Today we examine the quarterbacks and offensive skill positions. Be on the lookout for an offensive line (and tight ends) recap tomorrow and defensive assessments later in the week.
How They Exit Spring … Contrary to how the five-week practice period began, early enrollee Brandon Harris is now the 1 to sophomore Anthony Jennings' 1-A. Both exit spring in the hunt for the starting job, but Harris has a slight leg-up after out-playing Jennings in the spring game. A tale of the tape from that game has Harris as the better deep passer and scrambler while Jennings was more accurate inside of 20 yards. If Harris can become a better decision-maker on a consistent basis than Jennings, who's still struggling in the pocket and taking too many sacks, the job will be his outright. Redshirt freshman Hayden Rettig, who threw the ball well this spring, is LSU's number three heading into the summer.
Offseason Priorities … Harris and Jennings must take divergent mental paths after their public performances in the spring game. Jennings, who also didn't play his best ball in the Outback Bowl, needs a big helping of confidence. After his hero moment in the Arkansas game last November, Jennings hasn't had a lot go right for him when the lights were on. It's important he rekindle some of that spark he carried into TigerTown as an early enrollee, when many of his teammates, including Zach Mettenberger, raved about Jennings' moxie. Harris, on the other hand, must stay grounded. It's becoming more evident that the Bossier City native is going to have to play in some capacity in year one, even if as a rotational quarterback. An offseason's worth of humble pie, on top of staying in the weight room and diligently learning the playbook, will best prepare Harris for what could be a season of learning on-the-job in the toughest conference in America.
OFFENSIVE SKILL POSITIONS
How They Exit Spring … Going across the board LSU enters the summer in need of numbers at tailback, gamers and at least one freshman starter at receiver while resting just fine at fullback. The Tigers had only two scholarship tailbacks, but both have experience in rising seniors Kenny Hilliard and Terrence Magee, the latter of whom dealt with an ankle injury this spring. Magee is the preferred option of the pair, but with the way Frank Wilson uses his backs by committee, LSU will need its two signees at the position to hit the ground running. At receiver the situation is more dire. Position coach Adam Henry isn't seeking depth as much as he is frontline starters. Outside of redshirt sophomore Travin Dural, there may not be a sure thing currently in the corps. Many guys had chances this spring, but due to injuries and inconsistency, no one really grabbed the reins. At fullback Connor Neighbors and Melvin Jones are a nice one-two punch, giving LSU equal parts power and athleticism out of the backfield.
Offseason Priorities … Health and speedy progression from the freshman trio of Malachi Dupre, Trey Quinn and Tony Upchurch would be a good start. It's become a common refrain in Bayou Country that LSU will have to rely on one or two freshmen in the receiving game, so, like Harris on the passing side, these first-year players have to come in ready to go with a sharp mindset. At running back Magee, who did return to play in the spring game, needs to continue to heal that ankle while Hilliard has to stay on track with his weight. LSU no longer needs him to fill time at fullback, so No. 27 must be ready to tote the rock along with Magee and freshman Leonard Fournette this fall. That will require a certain level of conditioning for the senior from Patterson.