by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
This Saturday, aka tomorrow, the Tigers will kickoff their first Spring Game since 2019 inside Death Valley around high noon central time, with the game completely open to the public.
If you are in the area, please....GEAUX to the game...
Seeing LSU for free?
Can it get any better than that???
Now just because a lot is talked about before, during and after the annual Spring game doesn't automatically mean the day's top performers ascend to starting glory.....sometimes the biggest producers fade far before the season even begins:
So many past Tigers have fallen by the wayside in search of ultimate Tiger glory and at times the overly publicized Spring Game can hurt a player's confidence, give some guys a reason not to work (either they feel the spot is unattainable or certain players think their respective jobs are sown up) and on other occasions give the fanbase the wrong impressions.
Well, the coaching staff don't really care how we feel about the trial run vanilla offense Jake Peetz will deploy (there will be some brilliant plays mixed in, I'm sure) or how much they'll disguise Daronte Jones' defensive philosophy, LSU's staff are executing a plan.
This team is unpredictable for opponents to game plan against and their new staff (combined with a bottomless squad of talent) is an unknown hazard for the rest of college football...we have the SEC right where we want 'em.
Coach O and co won't want to show their hand too early.
However, I have a feeling this Spring game will showcase a lot of LSU's renewed identity more than the nuts and bolts of their offensive/defensive schemes, demonstrating a reinvigorated fundamental mindset which allows our uber-alles athletes to take control of proceedings.
We GEAUX through some areas where fans need to pay attention:
THINGS TO LOOK OUT FOR:
One area of the field which will be mostly unsullied for viewers?
The Battle Within The Trenches between LSU's under fire Offensive line vs Andre Carter's militant D-Line.
Watch carefully, not only for who's winning the overall grind, but which players are influencing the teammates around them & who continues to win their one on one battles...
Last year we saw a purple & gold squad which became verrrrrry unlike LSU:
You couldn't hear any hooting, heckling or hollering from the sidelines, either from the coaching staff or players; no jumping up or down, emotional high fives, 4th quarter fist & fingers raised.......after Miss State and Missouri, the sideline became a sea of stunned faces, looking away in shame or disgust, others planning for after-game festivities and of course, Coach O wanting to donate Bo Pelini's face to the bottom of his boot heel.
Eli Ricks had to nearly decapitate an Arkansas receiver just to inject some life into last year's group...
This season, starting with the Spring game, I expect to see a new team:
Primed, cut like a knife, attacking the ball with calculated, organized fury;
I want to see an invested team...a group who are loving every minute of it.
We cannot have any more injuries...for god's sake.
I want to see hard hitting, although not at the sacrifice of our own guys....but this is football, sometimes you can't have both...all we can do is hope and pray our Tigers are safe out there on Saturday:
CB Eli Ricks
DE Ali Gaye will miss the Spring Game, a precautionary measure;
RB John Emery will also not be participating;
WR Deion Smith
DT Glen Logan
DT Jarell Cherry
We'll let you know about anymore outs, doubts or returns when it comes.
RB Tre Bradford looks to be highly questionable, although Orgeron hasn't definitively ruled him out;
LB Josh White looks set to return from injury in this game
RB Josh Williams is back after a spell out, roughed up by Joe Evans during a prior scrimmage.
DE/LB Phillip Webb switched back from gold to purple, looking cleared to play
We have to see gang tackling at its finest out there...I want to see communication, destruction, Bugg Strong annihilating ball-carriers, Damone Clark roughing up anyone over the middle and stuffing the run.
We need to see how Jay Ward will adjust to free safety and what that means for Todd Harris or Jordan Toles:
Who is the best tackling safety????
I want to see patience and rhythm from our quarterbacks, keeping turnovers off the board, passing with purpose, commanding the line of scrimmage.
But most of all, I am looking for these five intangibles:
1. A QB who Isn't afraid to take deep shots, automatically giving our playmakers an opportunity to make a play....and which QB is most accurate on those big plays.
2. A QB who Can Extend Plays, either by pure mobility or pocket presence.
3. A QB who Executes on 3rd or 4th down with the most efficiency.
4. A QB who Can Demonstrate the most complete overall chemistry with the backs, receivers & O-Line
5. A QB who Won't Be Bowled Over By the situation...which QB can handle the pressure.
PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Is he really the best D-Lineman on the team as Coach Ed Orgeron said?
Just you wait & see!
Rebounding nicely from his injury woes, Ty is a sleeping giant among LSU's offensive lineup;
I feel he is the Tiger who can seize control of this #1 RB spot....right here, right now.
Get ready to see what all the fuss is about....
At his new position, Ward already has 3 INTs and a pick six in four scrimmages, showcasing his wild ball-hawking ability and dynamic range at his new safety position.
His heightened tackling prowess will surprise many; I heard plenty questioning Ward's tackling skills during this offseason...I'm glad I've never been one of 'em.
Here's the big dawg....
We've been waiting to see him in full action for the Tigers and now his time has arrived.
Will he be among the starters at DL?
Will he be as dominant as advertised???
Can he take full advantage of his outrageous size and skill?
After being earmarked as the leader of Daronte Jones' defense only a month and a half ago, Orgeron then announced Harris was still dealing with "injuries".
We don't exactly know what that means, as Harris still featured in limited reps during the final scrimmage, although we do know for a fact he's fighting for his free safety job against a converted corner....
Due to these turn of events, Harris is battling for the spot which was supposed to be his alone.....
However....could Daronte Jones use both Ward and Harris???
That's what we saw Jones favoring on occasion throughout Spring, a double free safety look, while the more athletic tackling safety will approach the line in an attempt to read the play, the other purely focused on coverage concerns.
Does that mean Harris is still a starter?
We'll see a glimmer of what's going on this Saturday.
Many have asked for my thoughts on the super senior right tackle and I have this to say:
I love Deculus as a leader and OL, I'm not only thrilled he returned....LSU need his long blonde Sampson locks.
Deculus should end up holding his position against challenger Marcus Dumervil, but I have to see aggression and quicker reactions out of Austin at right tackle.
His place cannot be without question....no player is beyond reproach in 2021.
Called "our best one on one blocker" by Coach Orgeron, Anthony Bradford is looking to swoop in and finally claim the right guard job out from under Chasen Hines.
Is Jaray ready to take over?
Is he equipped to challenge for the top WR spots?
How much has he improved?
I feel you're all going to love what you say from Jaray.
Suiting up for his first ever LSU spring game, the second year safety is a thick, strong hunter of the football.
We've heard plenty of hyperbole thrown his way, still, I want to see Toles geaux out there and secure some reps for himself.
He's an extremely talented safety, let's see if he's put it all together under Daronte Jones' guidance.
-DERRICK DAVIS JR:
Is the hype real??
I'm telling you...it is.
Just wait until you see Davis prowling around pre-snap, dissecting the play before it's even ran and suddenly, he's invading the backfield like hell hath no fury.
The reps I'm most interested in watching?
How the freshman early enrollee handles his coverage responsibilities.
No teenager is ever going to be 100% anxiety free in their first public game inside Tigers Stadium, we could see Davis Jr's first hiccups of the offseason.
Still, I doubt it.
We straight up NEED to see this kid play in purple & gold...such is his boundless potential.
He's one of the players I'm most excited to see out there on Saturday.
Webb could possibly be LSU's secret weapon off the bench.
KEY POSITION BATTLES:
- 2nd and 3rd WR (behind Kayshon Boutte):
- Running Back
-2nd and 3rd LBs (behind Damone Clark):
DE ANDRE ANTHONY
DT JAQUELIN ROY
DT JOSEPH EVANS
DE B.J OJULARI
LB DAMONE CLARK
LB BUGG STRONG
LB JOSH WHITE
FS JAY WARD
FS TODD HARRIS
CB DEREK STINGLEY JR
CB DWIGHT MCGLOTHERN
LT DARE ROSENTHAL
LG ED INGRAM
C LIAM SHANAHAN
RG ANTHONY BRADFORD
RT AUSTIN DECULUS
QB MAX JOHNSON
RB TY DAVIS-PRICE
WR KAYSHON BOUTTE
WR JARAY JENKINS
WR KOY MOORE
WR TREY PALMER
OFFENSIVE PREVIEW ON MARK ROGERS SHOW
DEFENSIVE PREVIEW ON MARK ROGERS SHOW
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
Copyright 2021 Uninterrupted Writings Inc LLC