LSU Football: 5 Things We Learned About Tigers This Spring
LSU entered spring practice this season with plenty of holes to fill. Now practices are over, and fans are still left pondering what the Tigers will look like next season.
The SEC West will be loaded with talented teams, which is now the norm in college football. Despite the elite talent the Tigers have on both sides of the ball, Bleacher Report's SEC Lead Writer Barrett Sallee has LSU ranked as the No. 4 team in the division coming out of spring.
Here are a few things fans know about the Tigers now that spring practice is completed.
Quarterback Battle Is Still Open
The biggest spring storyline for LSU was the quarterback position. Even with practice over, there is still no clear-cut answer who will replace Zach Mettenberger under center.
Sophomore Anthony Jennings and freshman early enrollee Brandon Harris are the top two candidates for the job. Jennings entered spring as the starter, but his two interceptions returned for touchdowns in the spring game were atrocious. Harris was, for the most part, sensational, combining for four touchdowns.
Les Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron are in no hurry to name a starter. But if there was anything learned, it was that Harris has some serious talent.
Incoming Freshmen Will Play
Les Miles loves his incoming recruiting class.
LSU was thin on the depth chart at skill positions this spring. The Tigers lost two players at running back and receiver with eligibility remaining to the draft, which hollowed things out for Miles' offense. To make matters worse, LSU had injuries to running back Terrence Magee and receivers John Diarse, Kevin Spears and Avery Peterson.
But even if the injuries did not happen, Miles has made it clear his need for the 2014 class, via Shea Dixon of Geaux247:
I just think some of those guys are going to get first snaps. They are going to be advantages for us, and we have to use them well. … I think the skill players on offense are going to be a must. And I think the skill players on defense, with safeties stepping in there and being ready to play, I think this recruiting class will hit us just where we need to be hit.
There is little doubt 5-star running back Leonard Fournette and receiver Malachi Dupre will see the field immediately. Fournette and Dupre have the ability to make game-breaking plays as true freshmen.
Quarterback and fellow freshman Brandon Harris posted a video last week on his Instagram account of him throwing passes to Dupre at LSU's facility.
LSU's Pass Rush Should Be Better
SEC quarterbacks should keep an eye out for Danielle Hunter.
Hunter had a magnificent spring, highlighted by two sacks and two quarterback hurries in the spring game. The speedy defensive end had only three sacks last season. Expect him to at least double that number next season.
Hunter will have help from fellow defensive ends Jermauria Rasco, Frank Herron and Lewis Neal. The push up the middle from the defensive tackles will be better as the unit will be deeper in 2014.
Last season, The Tigers defensive ends only raked in 9.5 sacks. That number must improve for LSU to be SEC title contenders.
LSU's Linebackers Should Be Much Improved
LSU's linebackers were the best unit on either side of the ball in the spring game.
The group, despite losing leading tackler Lamin Barrow, will be more consistent in 2014. Projected starters Kwon Alexander, D.J. Welter and Lamar Louis have the chance to be spectacular. If they struggle, backups Debo Jones and Kendell Beckwith have massive playmaking potential.
Defensive coordinator John Chavis also serves as the linebacker coach. Chavis will make it a point of emphasis to have them playing better next season.
DBU Will Be Back in Session
The LSU defensive backs have a reputation to live up to.
The Tigers are also known as "Defensive Back University," better known as "DBU," thanks to the illustrious history of the LSU secondary. But the Tigers have allowed over 219 passing yards per game in conference play in the past two seasons after holding opponents under 160 the two seasons prior.
But DBU will return to its elite status in 2014.
LSU's secondary has a pair of All-SEC-caliber corners in Tre'Davious White and Rashard Robinson. The Tigers have a variety of talented safety options to chose from as well.
LSU's last SEC Championship Game was in 2011, when the secondary was at its peak. If the Tigers want to get back to Atlanta, they need the defensive backs to play at a high level again.