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Spring Game What to Watch For

LSU football is back...ish...kind of...sort of.

PlayStation Fiesta Bowl - LSU v Central Florida Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

LSU’s spring practices, to date, have been fairly uneventful for the Tiger football team. And most football coaches will tell you that’s more or less the best possible outcome.

Spring is about building your team and continuing development for the players that need it. You aren’t settling position battles yet, nor are you truly installing an offense — mostly just creating/reinforcing a knowledge base. The big questions for a football team won’t be answered until the fall. So what you really want is just to get through the session clean with no injuries.

Naturally, that extends into Saturday’s spring game.

What To Watch For On Saturday

I say this almost every year, but it always bears repeating. Spring football games are generally Rorschach tests. You’re going to see what you probably want out of it. Walk-ons are playing prominent roles, quarterbacks are off limits, neutering the pass rush, plus coaches certainly aren’t game-planning to attack offensive or defensive specifics.

Sure, it’s nice to see players step up when they know they have an audience, and you certainly want to see things run well. But it’s unlikely that you’ll see anything worth drawing a sweeping conclusion on one way or the other.

You want to see the offensive line do a nice job of staying in front of the pass rush, and receivers separating and making catches. And you want to see quarterbacks completing passes. But again, if Joe Burrow goes out and hits 13 of 15 for 300 yards, it doesn’t mean he’s going to be a Heisman candidate this year. And of course, you don’t want him struggling to hit 50 percent and throwing multiple picks either.

Don’t worry about offensive play-calling or fancy new looks. Spring isn’t for new installation unless you’re making wholesale scheme changes — which LSU isn’t — it’s more for polishing up the underlying basics that inform the new wrinkles that will be added in the fall.

I have my own reasons for optimism regarding what the offense might look like this fall, but don’t let interviews like this;

Get your hopes up if the offense doesn’t look all that different in form.

Here are a handful of points to watch for:

  • A rhythm to the offense — whether it’s going up and down the field at will, you want to see the offense operate smoothly, first and foremost. Get in and out of the huddle and avoid procedure penalties.
  • Pitch and catch — whether Burrow and Myles Brennan are throwing bombs down the field, you want to see them complete the basics like slants, curls, swing passes, stuff like that. Likewise, the receivers make the easy catches.
  • Chris Curry — It felt like every carry this guy got as a true freshman was completely blown up in the backfield before it could even get going. Can he create some space on his own, or shake guys in the open field?
  • Offensive line — can they make holes for the running game, particularly in short-yardage, and can they at least hold their own in one-on-one situations. It’s one thing for there to be the occasional free rusher on the defense. That’s kind of what Dave Aranda’s scheme does. But can they just hold up and not get blown off the ball in pass-rush situations?
  • Derek Stingley and Siaki Ika — our first real look at two of the marquee members of the last recruiting cycle.
  • Kickers — I suspect this is another spot that will remain open until the freshmen arrive, but Connor Culp and Jack Gonsoulin can use all the good impressions they can muster.

Of course, this is all assuming that this whole thing doesn’t get rained out, given the weather that’s hit Baton Rouge in the last few days.