Anthony Jennings vs Brandon Harris
Jennings is coming into the spring game as the QB to beat out for the job. He has game experience, albeit only 1 full game in the Outback Bowl against Iowa and one series vs Arkansas where he led LSU to a 99 yard game winning drive. Technically, Anthony has only played in two more games than Harris has. On the flip side of that coin, he does have over a year's experience in Cam Cameron's offense. He's familiar with the playbook and knows all the calls. The question is can he utilize that knowledge of the offense and translate it onto the field consistently? The bowl game vs Iowa he did not show that at all as he struggled mightily against a very good Iowa defense. SEC defenses are typically much bigger, stronger and faster than those from the Big 10. Can Jennings use this spring practice and game to catapult him to keep the starting QB position?
The 6-2, 190 pound QB comes to LSU as the number three dual QB from Parkway Baptist high school in Bossier City. The question about Harris is his high school resume and talent alone enough for him to unseat Anthony Jennings as the starter? Brandon has already utilized his skills to jump ahead of second-year QB, Hayden Rettig. Rettig, who also has a year's experience under Cam Cameron, seems to be third on the depth chart directly behind Harris. Clearly, Harris has the tools to unseat one person with experience in a college system. Does he have enough talent to get past a second person?
What to look for? I'd like to see someone separate themselves from each other. Can Jennings or Harris make all the throws and calls? Can one of the QB's lead their respective teams to consistent scoring drives? Will the QB's rush their throws or sit in the pocket, make the necessary reads and make a smart play with their arm or legs? The key is to be consistent and whoever provides that will likely win the QB battle.
DJ Welter vs Kendell Beckwith
Welter is a senior and has experience lining up the front seven and starting in defensive coordinator John Chavis' defense. Welter is not going to surprise you with his speed to the edge or going sideline to sideline to make plays. However, what he does do is simply make tackles and last year he had 80 of them with two sacks. What I'd like to see Welter improve upon from last year is shedding blocks. Last season, Welter had difficulty getting rid of blockers in order to make a play up the field.
Last season, Beckwith played strong side linebacker and defensive end. This season Beckwith was moved to middle linebacker and it's one he has been quoted as saying that he is extremely happy in doing. Beckwith is 6-3, 225 pounds and possesses the speed to go sideline to sideline to make plays. His speed and overall strength and talent make him a starter on paper. The question about Beckwith is can he make all the correct calls, lead and organize everyone in the front seven to get the correct calls to everyone. In a recent media interview after a practice, one in which he made an excellent goal-line play, Beckwith said, "I forgot what defense we were in." I give Kendell a lot of respect for admitting he forgot the defense that was called and then made a play after that. However, what happens during a game when he forgets a call and the offense makes a big play against his defense?
What to look for? I'm looking for someone to make big plays. Can Welter or Beckwith cause a fumble, make an interception, cause havoc in the backfield - essentially be in all-out menace to the offensive?
Jalen Mills, Ronald Martin, Rickey Jefferson, Corey Thompson, Jamal Adams & Ed Paris
As you can see, depth is not a problem at the safety position. Ed Paris is a highly recruited true freshman who enrolled early, while another highly recruited safety in Jamal Adams will arrive in the fall. Jalen Mills is a converted cornerback now playing and appearing to be the starter at free safety. While teammate, Ronald Martin looks to be the starting strong safety. Sophomore Rickey Jefferson and junior Corey Thompson, who is out right now with a knee injury, provide depth at both safety positions. Six players definitely provide a ton of flexibility for defensive coordinator John Chavis. Martin will be at the strong safety position and will look to use his 6-2, 220 pound frame to help stop the run, while Mills will be at free safety making calls to the rest of the defensive backs and assisting in coverage. The question for both Mills and Martin is can they make plays on every down? Coach Chavis likes to be aggressive on defense by calling blitzes and this leaves cornerbacks in man to man coverage with receivers. Can Mills make the right play and use his speed to break up passes, get interceptions and make tackles? Or will freshman Ed Paris show he has the skills to take over and start?
What to look for? Like the middle linebackers, I'm looking for the safeties to be ball hawks and find the ball. Can Mills make an interception or big play? Can Martin cause a running back to fumble and show that he can be trusted in run protection?
I don't expect tomorrow's spring game to showcase a lot of things. What I do hope to see is big plays being made on offense and defense. Big plays meaning maybe a long touchdown pass or long running play and/or a fumble or interception for a touchdown. Last season, LSU did not have many of those big plays or wow moments that turn the momentum in their favor. Hopefully, tomorrow's spring game shows us a little glimpse of some of those plays and what's to come this football season.