Saturday, April 20, 2013
LSU spring game: What we learned
By Gary Laney
BATON ROUGE, La. -- Five things we learned in LSU's spring game Saturday, a 37-0 win for White (first-team players) over Purple (various reserves):
1. Mettenberger adjusts: Quarterback Zach Mettenberger completed 12 of 19 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns, all in the first half, after he evidently adjusted his own game plan.
Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron came up with the idea of allowing the quarterbacks to call their own plays in the spring game, so Mettenberger had some adjustments to make to his own calls.
"It was tough out there," the quarterback said. "Coach Cameron allowed us to call our own plays and it was the first time I've ever done that. It was kind of a slow start to get going, but we turned it around and had a pretty good day."
LSU coach Les Miles said the idea was to allow coaches to get a better feel for each quarterback's preference in certain situations and to allow the quarterbacks to gain a respect, and some insight, in the play-calling process.
"It allows you to see how the quarterback thinks," Miles said. "It allows you to see how he views the game plan, what he would call. I think it was a tremendous exercise."
It didn't get off to a rip-roaring start. Playing against a depleted second-team defense, the White offense managed a single field goal in its first three possessions before threw touchdown passes of 15 and 79 yards from Mettenberger to tight end Dillon Gordon and receiver Odell Beckham on consecutive possessions.
"We turned it around and had a pretty good day," Mettenberger said.
That goes especially for Beckham, who had two touchdown and 202 receiving yards on six catches, and Jarvis Landry, who added 132 yards on six catches.
2. Left out: LSU was without six injured first team players, as the secondary was depleted by injuries that kept out Jalen Collins, Jalen Mills and Ronald Martin. Offensive linemen Elliott Porter and Vadal Alexander also missed the game, as did defensive end Jermauria Rasco.
In their places, LSU had good production. True freshman Ethan Pocic was solid at center, save a couple of snap issues. Christian LaCouture started at end for the second team and wound up with four tackles and a sack.
"When this team reconvenes in June with a real quality freshman class -- four defensive ends, two defensive tackles and a secondary, some real quality additions that I think will reconfigure this team -- we will be a different team," Miles said.
3. Dominant D?: Even without several starters on a defense already in a rebuilding mode, Miles noted the core defensive players "looked like a first-team defense."
With seven tackles from the defensive tackle spot, Ego Ferguson looks like he's ready for a breakthrough year. Sophomore end Danielle Hunter had two sacks and eight tackles and drew praise from Miles. Safety Craig Loston intercepted a pass in the second half.
4. Kicking issues?: Two walk-on kickers competing for the starting job missed two of three field goals and one of five PATs. For a program that usually outplays opponents on special teams, that's a concern going into August.
Colby Delahoussaye missed an extra point and a field goal and Trent Domingue missed a field goal. Scholarship kicker James Hairston appears to still be a kickoff specialist.
5. Second-team QB up for grabs: Anthony Jennings started for the Purple team and the true freshman looked solid, completing 8 of 21 passes for 98 yards while keeping his poise surrounded by second-team players against first-team defenders.
At halftime, it looked like Jennings might be headed for the second-team job, but junior Stephen Rivers, who did not play in the first half, played in the second half for the White team and was sharp, completing 7 of 10 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns.
Rivers had the advantage of playing with first team players against a depleted second team defense, but it was hard not to notice his accuracy and poise.