What to Watch For
This is, of course, assuming that the weather doesn't have other plans for this game.
Beyond the Pale
On the one hand, yes, this game will be available for TV. On the other, what that probably means is that it will be more vanilla than Barry Manilow eating mayonnaise on white bread off a paper plate in the middle of a snow storm.
You could call Les Miles paranoid, and you wouldn't be wrong. But just because you're paranoid, doesn't mean that coaches won't be trying to look at tape of your spring football game. Look for things to be pretty basic in terms of playcalling, and a running clock in the second half. Game circumstances are somewhat important, and it's always nice to see who really tries to turn things on in front of a crowd, but it's definitely not worth risking injury.
Most importantly, don't expect to find many long-term answers to the questions you may have. Miles is just going to change the questions again when fall camp gets here.
A consistent theme has been that OL coach Jeff Grimes has planned on tinkering with his squad this spring. If you ask him who his starting five would be if he had a game next week, he'd tell you that there isn't a game next week. The only two constants in the lineup seem to be Jerald Hawkins and Vadal Alexander at the tackle spots. The rest could be any combination of the remaining eight players.
So I'll be looking to see who plays with who, and who plays where. Is Ethan Pocic a center or a guard? Is K.J. Malone a guard or a backup tackle? How about Andy Dodd, or Will Clapp and Garrett Brumfield -- both of whom have gotten a lot of positive press to date. Defensive linemen are almost never going full speed in these things because the quarterbacks are typically non-contact, but you can still look for how guys are finding their fits on the zone plays, getting to the second level, things of that nature.
The junior defensive end has arguably been the biggest surprise for the LSU defense this spring, winning a ton of admiration from new coach Ed Orgeron, and reportedly a starting spot. Pass-rush and getting more plays in the backfield is going to be a huge focus from this group. Yeah, these guys aren't going to be barreling after the quarterbacks full-speed, but you can judge things like hustle versus the run and burst off the ball. I'm curious to see if Neal can make a few plays. Although, given that he's been out with an ankle injury, I wonder if he'll even play.
All About Progression
Obviously, this concept will center on Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris, but they're not the only players in need of growth. How do Travin Dural and Malachi Dupre handle physical press coverage? Is Ed Paris locking down the corner spot opposite Tre'Davious White? Dropped passes?
How about Davon Godchaux getting into the backfield a little more often, or Deion Jones maintaining his gap discipline in the running game? Who looks bigger and stronger, leaner and meaner, etc...The Fall will be the true test, but there's nothing wrong with a midterm.
Hustle & Flow
And of course, there are the quarterbacks.
It'd certainly be great to see Harris and Jennings combine to complete 70 percent of their passes for a solid yardage total, a couple touchdowns and no interceptions, but honestly, would that even really prove anything? It'd be nice, sure -- there's already been a low bar set for QB play this spring in the league with crappy or mediocre games for Ole Miss, Florida, etc... But nobody reasonable is going to believe in either of these guys until they start doing it in real games in the fall.
And I'd love to tell you about Matt Mauck throwing five interceptions in his first spring game as the starter, or J.T. Barrett and Cardale Jones combining for 28-of-62 for Ohio State last spring. But you all remember Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee laying spring game eggs, and Jennings and Harris looking less than stellar a year ago as well. I think it's fair to say that what happens on Sunday will certainly give us an indication of where these guys are right now, four-plus months from the start of the season.
But it won't give us a real indication of what they'll be like in September.
Honestly, I just want to see the offense flow through some drives successfully. In and out of the huddle, through the line of and onward. Mistakes are going to happen. String drives together, convert third downs when asked, and keep things moving along. Grease the wheels instead of pumping the breaks. There will likely be some big plays when Dural or Dupre get isolated on some poor walk-on. But that's not what will get me excited.
I would assume the drives will be scripted, certainly early on. Cam Cameron did let Mettenberger call his own plays in 2013, and it made things interesting to get a feel for what reads and throws he was the most comfortable with. It'd be nice to maybe catch a glimpse of that on Saturday, but it seems doubtful. Especially with the likelihood of inclement weather.
Richard Murphy. Guy Harper. Even Ronnie Feist last year, or DeSean Smith if you really want to be cynical. Every spring game, somebody finds a way to show out in a way that we will likely never see on Saturdays in the fall. Anybody want to take a best guess on who joins the club this year?
I'll take a wild guess and say D.J. Chark probably makes a big play or two, along with David Ducre. Not to say that Ducre won't have a role in the fall, but it wouldn't shock me to see him pop something impressive on the backups on Saturday, and there will just only be so many carries this fall.