Yesterday I played the hindsight game, providing updated answers to five big questions TSD originally posed prior to spring practice.
For the next two days, while LSU football is in the midst of time off for spring break, it's time to look at offensive and defensive storylines and which players have stepped up the most on both sides of the ball through three weeks of practice.
Tomorrow I'll tackle defense, but today it's time to examine the goings on for the Tiger offense in spring ball.
Biggest Storyline: Cam has the troops marching at a new speed
For just shy of a month now you've been beaten over the head with this topic, so I won't pile on too much more. Just know, though, that there's a reason why those who've seen LSU practice this spring can't stop talking about the new pace of the offense. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron is demanding faster reps, quicker mental through processes from the quarterbacks and is installing new terminology while barking out commands to ensure that LSU's signal callers and offense are as efficient as possible. There's been a noteworthy difference in the tempo the Tigers' skill players are working under this spring from any time in the Les Miles Era.
Runners Up: Miles getting hands dirty with line; Magee reminding all of his talent
The byproduct of Cameron taking control of the quarterbacks and other skill players (and really of true trust from LSU's head coach) is that Miles has been extremely hands-on with the offensive line. Every single day in individual drills, the Hat is teaching technique to the line, getting in players faces and bringing along newcomers, like Ethan Pocic at center and Fehoko Fanaika, who has required a lot of one-on-one training, at guard. His involvement in the trenches has been fun to watch.
By now everybody around the SEC knows about Jeremy Hill and Alfred Blue. Most even remember Kenny Hilliard despite No. 27 falling off the map as a sophomore. Rising junior Terrence Magee is serving notice this spring that he'll be a name opposing teams need to get familiar with as well. Magee, a high school quarterback recruited as a running back but moved to receiver in 2012, is back to dotting the "I" due to position scarcity. His skills in pass blocking and catching are making him more and more valuable every day in Cameron's offense. Magee's latest scrimmage effort (76 yards, 1 TD) further suggests he'll be a part of the RB rotation in 2013.
Offensive MVP: WR Jarvis Landry
Spring scrimmage stats always smell a little fishy, but typically if they're skewed, it's in favor of the quarterback. Seldom are numbers fudged to aid a wide receiver. With that in mind, check out the numbers Landry has reportedly put up in two scrimmages this spring. First scrimmage: 10 catches (team high), 141 yards, 2 TD. Second scrimmage: 7 catches (team high), 77 yards, 1 TD. The junior did miss one practice and was in a green jersey for another, but other than that he's been all LSU could ask for as Zach Mettenberger's favorite target. And for a guy who led the Tigers in receptions and receiving touchdowns in 2012, he seems ready to take things to another level.
Runners Up: LT La'el Collins; TE Dillon Gordon; WR Travin Dural
Collins deserves mention for his work at left tackle, validating to date the staff's decision to move him to the most important position on the line. Time will tell how he responds to week-in, week-out competition, but it's a good sign that the coaches haven't had to abort mission yet … Gordon makes this honorable mention list for keeping his nose out in front of JuCo transfer Logan Stokes at tight end. The two may currently be 1 and 1-A, but it's impressive that Gordon, who is a better athlete and pass-catcher than Stokes, has made his way to being the former and not the latter … Dural missed LSU's second scrimmage, dealing with an undisclosed injury, but he reportedly lit up the first one. In Miles' most recent press conference, he expressed just how comfortable the Tigers would be with Dural as the starting X-receiver when the player is healthy.
Best Newcomer: Tie – OL Ethan Pocic and QB Anthony Jennings
After week one I would have simply responded Pocic in this category. It's extremely difficult to walk into a program like LSU's as an early enrollee and make a name for yourself on the offensive line, even more so if you're adapting to a new position as Pocic, a high school tackle, is at center. He's handled the transition fairly well with the exception of some center-quarterback exchange issues in the second LSU scrimmage. Pocic is currently running as the second-team center and is also cross-training at tackle should he be needed there. That's pretty heady stuff for a kid who could be in high school.
But, since I've had the benefit of watching a full three weeks, I'd be remiss (and wrong) if I didn't include Jennings. He's running third on LSU's depth chart at quarterback, thanks in part to Rob Bolden not being at full speed as he recovers from an injury. Whatever the circumstance, Jennings is taking advantage of the reps and exposure. He really throws a nice ball and looks the part much more than fellow newbie Hayden Rettig. Before it's all said and done in Fall Camp, I wouldn't be surprised if he challenges Stephen Rivers for second string. From perceived redshirt candidate to possible contributor in year one, Jennings is turning heads.
Midway Spring Review: Offense
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