Year two of spring games under Ed Orgeron. Year...nine of trying to write something that will make it sound interesting...
And of course, the obligatory:
There really is only one important thing to draw from anything that happens this weekend, regardless of program, quarterback, offensive coordinator or what have you —
Don’t get me wrong — this is the closest thing we’re getting to Tiger football in Tiger Stadium until September 8th when Southeastern Louisiana visits. I’m all for enjoying it, especially at night, with what, as of press time, is forecast to be some pretty good weather. These events basically exist to provide TV networks with content and the program with a recruiting event.
Just don’t expect to learn a whole lot about the 2018 Tigers.
What to Watch For Saturday Night
Oh Look, a Butterfly!
Over the last 10 years, I’ve become a big believer in people’s ability to see what they want in most given situations. Confirmation bias is a helluva drug, and most of us are addicts.
Spring games are a great feeder of that complex, because there’s almost always something. Somebody’s going to look good. Somebody’s going to look bad. Most of the people walking in pessimistic about the 2018 season will probably see something that confirms that for them. Likewise, people who have their minds or hearts set on one quarterback or another will also likely find something that cements belief in Myles Brennan or Lowell Narcisse.
Believe me when I say that, outside of injury or something really bizarre, nothing you see on Saturday night will tell you all that much about the 2018 Tigers.
In the Margins
Just remember one name whenever you start to think about how anything “looked in the spring game”,: Ronnie Feist.
In his career as a linebacker at LSU, Ronnie Feist made somewhere around 30 or 40 tackles in spring games. In four regular seasons as a Tiger, Feist had eight career tackles. EIGHT. He later transferred to UT-San Antonio, where he had 35 tackles as a senior in 2016.
But every year, damn if he didn’t look great in the spring game.
So a lot of what you’re going to see Saturday is a mirage, one way or the other. In big-picture terms, things along the margins — to the extremes one way or the other — might have some meaning. If the quarterbacks complete 33 percent of their passes and toss a couple interceptions? Yeah, that’s bad. You never want to see quarterbacks have that bad of a practice. If they complete 80 percent of their passes with five or six touchdowns? Probably a good sign.
But the pass-rush will be muted with the quarterbacks off-limits in terms of hits. Likewise, you don’t get a full grasp of what somebody like Narcisse can do as a runner if the defense knows they can’t hit him.
Just look for things like basic rhythm in and out of the huddle. Comfort. Does the offense move like a unit that knows what they want to try and do play to play? Do receivers get open against man-to-man coverage? I don’t mean just running by the corner deep, I mean separating on a break, or finding the soft spot in a zone. Can they get off a press? Shuck a defensive back down the field?
Individual things, like a back’s speed to the edge, or how a linebacker stacks and sheds in his gap. Big things in this game won’t mean much. But there might be some clues in the little things.
Although we might not even know that until we’re looking back on this thing with knowledge of the 2018 product.