LSU Football: Final Winners and Losers from Spring Ball
LSU's spring practice had no shortage of headlines, the biggest of which were on offense.
The Tigers lost quarterback Zach Mettenberger, running back Jeremy Hill, right guard Trai Turner and receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr. To make matters worse, only Mettenberger was a senior.
But LSU had question marks defensively as well. The Tigers lost key components in their run defense in Anthony Johnson, Ego Ferguson and Lamin Barrow.
Performing well in spring practice does not mean a player will play during the season. But there is no doubt it helps the coaches know if a player has the talent to play in games.
Here are a few of LSU's performers who rose to the occasion, and a few who didn't.
Winner: Brandon Harris
The star of LSU's spring was early-enrollee quarterback Brandon Harris.
He learned the basics of offensive coordinator Cam Cameron's offense in a short period of time. The freshman earned the praise of his teammates beginning in Week 1, including fellow quarterback Anthony Jennings, according to David Ching of ESPN.com.
Harris looked the better of the two signal-callers in the spring game, passing and running for four total touchdowns. Bleacher Report Lead SEC College Football Writer Barrett Sallee believes it is Harris' job to lose.
Loser: Anthony Jennings
Anthony Jennings did not gain any fans with his performance in the LSU spring game. He threw two interceptions, both returned for touchdowns, and struggled to get in rhythm until the beginning of the second half.
But LSU receiver Travin Dural stressed the performance does not indicate Jennings' overall spring performance.
"Every quarterback has games where he throws an interception or two, so you can't really hold that against them," said Dural. "I'd say both of them (Jennings and Brandon Harris) had a decent spring and a pretty good spring game."
Jennings can still win the job. The sophomore's, albeit brief, experience is valuable when competing against a freshman. But he looked much like he did in his only start against Iowa last season, which was mediocre.
Winner: The Offensive Line
LSU's key components of the offensive line did not suffer any major injuries this spring. That alone is a major victory for first-year offensive line coach Jeff Grimes.
The Tigers return four of their five starters up front. The only spot open is at right guard, which has turned into a highly contested battle between seniors Hoko Fanaika and Evan Washington.
Les Miles will rely on the experienced group to carry the young skill-position players early. It is key for the group to remain healthy, as LSU has lost a projected starter up front before the season opener in two of the past three seasons.
Spring practice mainly consists of drills within a position group. Fortunately enough for Grimes, LSU has talented backups who push the starters every day. This makes an already gifted group even better.
Loser: Avery Peterson
Avery Peterson can't catch a break...or a pass in front of LSU fans.
He battled injury this spring after sitting out of 2013 with a broken ankle. He sank deeper in the depth chart because of it, as Quantavius Leslie rose in his absence.
Peterson did not register a reception in the LSU spring game. He could be completely phased out of the offense when highly touted incoming freshmen Malachi Dupre and Trey Quinn step on campus.
Bleacher Report's Jake Martin still sees promise in Peterson, but he must make strides in the fall if he wants to see the field next season.
Winner: The LSU Defensive Tackles
LSU defensive tackles Maquedius Bain and Greg Gilmore could be massive pieces to the defense next season.
And those are just the backups.
Bain and Gilmore both showed run-stuffing potential in the spring game. They will spell starters Christian LaCouture and Quentin Thomas in 2014, who served as the backups to Ego Ferguson and Anthony Johnson last season.
LSU defensive line coach Brick Haley did not substitute out Ferguson and Johnson enough last season, partially because LaCouture and Thomas were average. LSU could bring in fresh bodies more often if Bain and Gilmore can be productive.
Bain told David Ching of ESPN.com to expect more rotations next season. The unit as a whole improved this spring. But the Tigers will need one of the incoming freshman defensive tackles to play right away to add even more depth.
Loser: Jordan Allen
LSU defensive end Jordan Allen left the program midway through spring practice. The Arizona Daily Star reported earlier this week that he will join the Arizona Wildcats.
Allen said he left LSU because he was unable to get into the grad school program, according to Luke Johnson of Tiger Rag. Whether or not that is true, the fifth-year senior also was competing for playing time with defensive ends who were better than him.
He was rather ineffective last season. He started the first three games yet came off the bench for the rest. He only registered one tackle in the final five games of the season combined.
LSU will have more than enough resources to replace Allen. His career in Baton Rouge will be remembered as a disappointment.
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