LSU takes the practice field for the first time today, in split-squad sessions from now through Friday (freshmen/newcomers in the morning, veterans/select n00bs in the afternoon). Here's a quick primer on some general notes to watch for in the position groupings, in as much as we can really tell from the standard beat reports.*
Who backs up Zach Mettenberger? It seems like a clear-cut battle between Stephen Rivers and true frosh Anthony Jennings, but is there a difference between the true backup and the future backup? Will Jennings have an on-field role in special situations? How has Hayden Rettig progressed this summer?
What does the depth chart look like without Jeremy Hill?
Hill has a hearing set for August 16, and as of now he's still suspended, which means he won't be on the practice field. UPDATE: Hill's probation was continued this morning, with an allowance in his curfew for him to participate in football activities. Coach Miles has yet to announce if or when Hill will rejoin the team. Alfred Blue's likely the No. 1, but what do Terrance Magee and Kenny Hilliard look like behind him? Will the coaches move somebody else to the position for depth, like Jeryl Brazil?
Jarvis Landry and ODB's roles in the offense are fairly set, but who joins them when LSU puts other wideouts on the field? Has Quantavious Leslie hit the ground running, or will Travin Dural continue the momentum he had this spring? And there's still seniors Kadron Boone & James Wright.
Who starts and what do their roles look like? Logan Stokes was signed to fill in as a blocking tight end, but Dillon Gordon flashed some two-way talent in the spring. It will also be interesting to see how the second tight role develops with veteran pass-catcher Travis Dickson, and stud recruit DeSean Smith.
Here, you might see some shuffling. It seemed like a starting lineup of La'El Collins, Josh Williford, Elliot Porter, Trai Turner and Vadal Alexander was set after the spring. But there's been a lot of talk of recent weeks about sophomore Jerald Hawkins taking over at right tackle, with Alexander shuffling over to guard and Williford to the T-Bob Hebert Memorial Backup position for multiple spots. And is Ethan Pocic's move to center permanent, or just a depth move? Freshman Josh Boutte is also a player I expect to make some noise, as well.
Three starters seem pretty set: Anthony Johnson & Ego Ferguson at the tackle spots with Jermauria Rasco at defensive end. The other end spot is up for grabs between Jordan Allen and Danielle Hunter, and the class of 2013 will litter the rest of the two deep. How that shakes out will be crucial to this defense's development.
How in the hell do you pick three starters out of this group? The only one that's a lock is Lamin Barrow. After that, Kwon Alexander, Tahj Jones, Deion Jones and Lamar Louis all have experience and speed. And then there's D.J. Welter running first team at middle linebacker in the spring, and freshmen Kendall Beckwith and Duke Riley, who are going to find their way on the field somehow.
Once again, your starters are set with Jalen Mills & Jalen Collins. Will frosh Tre'Davious White jump the redshirt guys on the depth chart, or will guys like Dwayne Thomas and Derrick Raymond make it a competition? Fellow newbie Rashard Robinson also made a lot of noise over the summer. He's a bit thin, has he added enough weight to see the field?
Who starts next to Craig Loston? Ronald Martin is your most experienced guy, but sophomores Corey Thompson and Jerqwinick Sandolph looked real, real good in the spring. I expect there to be a three- or four-man rotation here, but in what order? There's also been some talk of Rickey Jefferson drawing rave reviews here as well.
*There really isn't that much you can tell in week one aside from who looks in shape, who's ready to go and who's hurt and what freshmen are ahead of the curve in week one. But football season back, beggars & choosers and all that.