If LSU’s football season is about a love affair between a passionate fan base and their team (you had me at “Call it in the air”), then the spring game is usually mere mild curiosity at first sight.
The Tigers' spring game will begin at 7 p.m. Saturday, televised by SEC Network. But you may…
However, this year, there is much to peak the interest as the Tigers give us one last glimpse before heading into their summer hibernation. Here are five things to watch for Saturday night in Tiger Stadium:
1. A fresh breeze from Canada. The biggest reason to watch LSU’s spring game is to see what new offensive coordinator Matt Canada’s play-calling and formations look like. That said, it’s not happening behind the high wooden fence at LSU’s practice facility, so you can be certain all of LSU’s opponents will be running the DVRs on the SEC Network telecast. To that end, you can bet Canada won’t be unwrapping his full arsenal of motion packages and misdirection. That said, we should at least get a taste of what he will have the Tigers doing — or not — on offense. Let us count the I-formation plays versus the number of jet sweeps.
Dave Scheib is to blame.
2. Is there really a quarterback battle? Common sense says no. Senior Danny Etling is a cinch to take the first snap Sept. 2 against BYU in Houston. The talk of an open QB competition was all but certainly a Canada/Ed Orgeron production designed to gin up some healthy work ethic on the part of Etling and his supporting cast. The rest of LSU’s quarterbacks have thrown a combined one pass. Add punter Josh Growden, and it’s two pass attempts. You might as well ask, “Will Derrius Guice carry the ball some this season?” Now, do we get a sense Saturday night of who his prime backup is likely to be? Plenty of focus will be on Justin McMillan, Lindsey Scott and Lowell Narcisse to see if a likely understudy shows some flashes.
LSU’s quarterback competition is extending to preseason camp.
3. Ask, can they receive? If Etling is the surefire No. 1 quarterback, then senior D.J. Chark is his top target. The two have a chemistry going back to their days on LSU’s scout squad. A much more interesting thing to watch for is who looks like the Tigers No. 2. Will it be Dee Anderson? Drake Davis? Stephen Sullivan? Additionally, you have to hope for some good looks at this new hybrid H-back position they’re talking about, a meld of tight end and fullback. If you see Bry’Kiethon Mouton lined up in something resembling the slot, you’ll know this LSU offense has truly evolved.
With LSU's spring game approaching, Matt Canada's new offensive schemes will be on display f…
4. A Key complimentary position. Fans can set aside the paper bags and stop hyperventilating. It looks more and more certain that Arden Key will return in the fall from his (self-imposed?) offseason exile, returning to menace opposing quarterbacks like that big ball chasing Indiana Jones in “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” He will be a spectator at the spring game, of course, so the most interesting thing will be to see who else performs capably in this spot. Eyes will be on redshirt freshmen Andre Anthony and Ray Thornton (sophomore Sci Martin is out with a knee injury), both strong candidates to be LSU’s edge rushers of the future — assuming Key turns pro after this season.
5. If you move it, will they come? For all the trappings of LSU football — and this year they’re adding the ambiance of Saturday night in (hopefully dry) Tiger Stadium — it’s still faux football, and everybody knows it. LSU fans traditionally give a big yawn to the big simulated affair, averaging a little more than 25,000 fans per spring game since 2012. That seems low among SEC teams — but in the eight conference spring games held before Saturday, the average attendance was just 25,742, from an estimated 48,000 two weeks ago at Florida to about 8,000 at Ole Miss. Considering the “debut” of the Canada offense, a night kickoff and free admission, the Tigers might have have one of its best spring game crowds in years. But with the heavy threat of rain (75 percent at kickoff), all bets are off.
Ed Orgeron's first spring game will kick off at 7 p.m. Saturday in Tiger Stadium.
Then again, it never rains in Tiger Stadium, right?
Keep thinking the good thoughts.