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Monday, April 1, 2013
LSU spring: Top 5 storylines at break

By Gary Laney

BATON ROUGE, La. -- LSU heads into spring break nine practices into its 15-practice spring practice schedule. With LSU taking a week off, here are the biggest developments of the first three weeks of practice:

Quarterback Zach Mettenberger has put up solid numbers in two spring scrimmages and has drawn the praise of coach Les Miles.
1. Passing fancy? Quarterback Zach Mettenberger has completed 41 of 65 passes for 447 yards in two spring scrimmages under first-year offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. Those numbers look like an improvement over recent years -- both Mettenberger's first season as starter and the previous four seasons with quarterbacks Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee -- at first blush.

Head coach Les Miles noted that Mettenberger was "throwing the ball better."

But LSU fans have heard that song and dance in past springs. Is it reality? Is it wishful spring thinking? We won't really get to judge until the spring game.

2. Williford slides left: Josh Williford started most of the 2011 season and the first half of the 2012 season at right guard. After he went out midway through last season because of a concussion, Trai Turner moved into his spot. The spot opened up after La'el Collins moved from left guard to left tackle.

With Turner settled in at right guard, Williford has made the move to left guard, all while backing up Elliott Porter, the apparent replacement for P.J. Lonergan at center. Meanwhile, Fehoko Fanaika, the junior college transfer some though might take over as the starting left guard, is backing up Turner on the right side.

3. Early impacts: Several members of the 2013 signing class are making impressions in their first springs.

Ethan Pocic has looked solid at center and offensive tackle, while Christian LaCouture has looked good battling for playing time at defensive tackle. Meanwhile, John Diarse and Avery Peterson have made plays at wide receiver.

A year after LSU had 13 true freshmen play in games, it looks like 2013 might be another season in which the Tigers get an early impact from freshmen.

4. Welter in the middle: One of the surprises of the spring has been the repetitions D.J. Welter is getting as first-team middle linebacker.

Welter missed all of the 2012 regular season because he was academically ineligible. Many wrote him off, but he came back for the Chick-fil-A Bowl and played meaningful snaps behind Kevin Minter.

Many continued to write him off, assuming either Lamin Barrow or one of the Tigers' younger linebackers would step in.

But Welter has latched onto the first team and has drawn praise from coaches and teammates. Barrow, meanwhile, continues to work at weakside linebacker, where he excelled as LSU's second-leading tackler last season.

5. Magee magic: Cameron likes versatile backs, so it's no surprise that Terrence Magee -- a speedy former high school quarterback who has worked at running back and wide receiver at LSU -- is having a good spring.

Not only has Magee made catches out of the backfield in both scrimmages, including a touchdown in the first scrimmage, he has also been the Tigers' leading rusher in both scrimmages.

That's encouraging for a team that only has four scholarship running backs coming back to next year's team.