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Wednesday, April 17, 2013
5 things to look forward to at spring game

By Gary Laney

Cam Cameron
Expect to see snippets of Cam Cameron's offense at LSU's spring game on Saturday, but nothing that will give anything away.

BATON ROUGE, La. -- For the first time since the disappointing loss to Clemson in the Chick-fil-A Bowl, LSU will be in action for public consumption Saturday when the Tigers play their annual spring game at Tiger Stadium.

Like many teams in college football, most of the Tigers' preparations are done behind closed doors. For the public, there is no access to practices. For the media, there are a mere 10-15 minutes of open practices most days. For students, there's Thursday's open practice (4 p.m. with student ID).

That makes Saturday's game a rare public viewing for most LSU observers. With the curtain raised, here's what we look forward to seeing the most:

1. Cameron's offense: We know most of the players in LSU's offense. Zach Mettenberger, Jeremy Hill, Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry -- you can go down the list of familiar names.

The big question is how they will be used in new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron's offense. Will the Tigers still be a power-run team, as they've been in recent seasons? Will Cameron spread the field with a lot of four-wide sets? Will running backs and tight ends be split wide? Will they throw it in the red zone or try to power it?

Certainly, we don't expect to have Cameron's LSU offensive playbook figured out based on the spring game, but it will be interesting to see what is valued most in the new offense.

2. Young ends ready?: Two of LSU's returning defensive ends have played sparingly, but figure to get a lot of spring game snaps given a numbers crunch LSU is temporarily experiencing at the position. Jordan Allen is a player we had been hearing has been on the cusp of earning more significant playing time before a knee injury ended his 2012 season. Danielle Hunter played on special teams a lot last year and looked like a future star.

They both were caught up in a numbers game behind a talented group of ends, including three players will will likely be taken in next week's NFL draft. Are they ready to replace that production?

We won't get to see  Jermauria Rasco in action, however. A likely starter at one of the end positions, his spring ended with a shoulder injury.

3. Kicking it around: With a new offensive coordinator and so many new faces on defense, the battle for the place kicker spot has garnered little attention. But it's a key spot, considering LSU's consistency at the position over the years and the Tigers' emphasis on gaining an edge on opponents on special teams.

James Hairston, who handled kickoff chores last year, is battling walk-on Colby Delahoussaye for the field goal spot. Can they provide the Tigers with the same consistency they received from Drew Alleman the last couple of years?

4. La'el at left tackle: La'el Collins came out of high school with a reputation as being arguably the nation's best tackle prospect.

Now a junior, we'll finally get to see him play tackle in a game. After starting at left guard last season, the spring game will be our first chance to see him start at left tackle for LSU.

5. Man in the middle: D.J. Welter has been the surprise starter at middle linebacker throughout spring. Most expected the junior, who missed all of last season for academic reasons, to fall behind members of the talented 2012 linebacker recruiting class in the depth chart.

So far, Welter has been the guy with Lamin Barrow, who many expected to move to the middle to replace the departed Kevin Minter, staying on the weak side, where he excelled last season. Is this going to be the 2013 lineup or will Barrow eventually slide to the middle to make room for one of the talented sophomores, such as Kwon Alexander?