LSU head coach Nick Saban and the Tigers have one last chance to work toward goals stated before spring drills commenced – finding team identity, establishing more consistency, cutting down turnovers and searching for the depth required to compete in the Southeastern Conference.
The Tigers will put it all on the line and display how much they have learned when the squad splits for its annual spring clash.
In last season's game, Matt Mauck connected with Guy Harper on a 63-yard touchdown pass with just over two minutes remaining as the Purple squad rallied for a 13-10 win over the White team before a crowd of 28,658 in Tiger Stadium.
In that game, a quarterback battle between Mauck and Marcus Randall was put to bed when Randall tore his ACL. Mauck was then named the first team signal caller by default.
An injury to Mauck's foot in the Florida win shifted control of the offense to Randall, who finished the season as the starting quarterback. Now, Mauck is back and looks to have risen back the top spot. The 6-foot-2 junior has taken a large majority of the snaps with the first unit throughout the spring.
At running back, Joseph Addai ascended to the role of first-team running back when LaBrandon Toefield and Domanick Davis moved onto the NFL. Addai is the odds-on favorite to see most of the action, but little man Shyrone Carey has made some noise in both spring scrimmages and could be a major factor in the backfield.
Ryan Gilbert still looks to be the most physically gifted of the bunch, but lacks the knowledge of the offense to get considerable playing time.
The buzz of Justin Vincent playing defense has been all the rage of spring. But Saban says he will not play the true freshman at safety in the fall.
By the way, did we mention Vincent is very good?
Brandon "Bull" Hurley is the top fullback on the squad, followed by human bowling ball Kevin Steltz. When Steltz (5-8) and Carey (5-6) are in the game at the same time, LSU may feature the shortest backfield in America.
At wideout, Michael Clayton is the stud everyone thought he would be this season. Devery Henderson is back from a broken arm and does not seem to have lost a step. Skyler Green is a prototype of Josh Reed with more speed, and checks in as the third receiver.
Right now, Bennie Brazell is probably the fourth wide out, but has missed a great deal of the spring due to track. Walk-on Gino Giambelluca opened some eyes in the second scrimmage with a few receptions at the fourth receiver position.
Eric Edwards still has the softest hands of the bunch at tight end, but his hulking frame has limited his speed considerably. Demetri Robinson will push Edwards heavily for playing time and is a great blocker. David Jones also has improved and was split out to the slot a few times during the spring.
In the trenches, a veteran offensive line is anchored by center Ben Wilkerson. Rudy Niswanger and Stephen Peterman flank Wilkerson and left and right guard respectively, while man-child Andrew Whitworth and veteran Rodney Reed register as the left and right guards.
Peterman appears to have gained a little too much weight as the hefty senior looks badly out of shape. Wilkerson is still recovering from a back injury from the offseason.
Terrell McGill has emerged as the sixth offensive lineman and will play guard when the versatile Niswanger is at center. Brian Johnson, Doug Planchard, Peter Dyakowski, Paris Hodges and Nate Livings are all key reserves who make up what Saban calls the best group of LSU linemen since his arrival.
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