LSU’s new-look defense debuts in spring; here’s why Les Miles calls the start ‘memorable’ _lowres

Advocate file photo by TRAVIS SPRADLING -- Anthony Jennings, left, may soon be able to resume his competitiong with Brandon Harris, right, for LSU's starting quarterback spot.

LSU coaches haven’t yet determined a format for the spring game, but coach Les Miles said reps for quarterbacks Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris will be “pretty even.”

The Tigers had their second-to-last practice of the spring Tuesday and will conduct the spring game Saturday at Tiger Stadium. The spotlight, for many, will be on a starting quarterback battle that’s been raging for a year.

What will Miles look for in his QBs?

“Run the team,” Miles said. “Use the tools at hand. Run the offense for us. Let it work. Take care of the ball. Move it aggressively. Those kinds of things.”

Coaches haven’t determined if the starting defense and offense will compete against each other or if the second string will play against the first string during Miles’ 11th spring game in Baton Rouge.

The health of the team factors into that, the coach said, as well as making “sure it’s competitive.”

There will be a running clock in the second half, Miles said.

With spring nearly complete, Harris is “much closer” to being ready to play quarterback at LSU than he was at this time last year, the coach said.

The rising sophomore didn’t see significant action in a game last season after struggling in his start at Auburn at the midway point in the year.

Pre-snap cadence and motion were hard for the quarterback to learn early on, Miles suggested.

“Executing the play takes some work,” Miles said.

Injury update

Defensive end Lewis Neal suffered an ankle injury and missed Tuesday’s practice, Miles said, and several others players are expected to return to full strength by fall camp.

The coach didn’t reveal specifics about Neal’s injury, but he said safety Corey Thompson and defensive tackle Quentin Thomas are expected to be at full strength by fall. Thomas, recovering from shoulder surgery, is not participating in spring, and Thompson, suffering from lingering effects of ACL surgery more than a year ago, has also not practiced this spring.

Cornerback Dwayne Thomas has practiced in a green no-contact jersey for all of spring practice, but that’s only precautionary. Miles said Thomas is game-ready now.

Developing the No. 2s

Miles and his staff are happy with the first-stringers. Now it’s time for the backups to improve, he said.

“What has to come is some of our second-team guys. ... We look forward to them going onto the field and playing big roles. That’s really what we’re looking at. We like our first team. First team is good,” he said. “We just need to make sure to develop some depth that allows us, when we substitute, to have the same style of performance.”

Rucker at FB

Miles said LSU hasn’t moved many players to different positions during this spring, but the team did make moves at fullback.

Jonathan Rucker, a linebacker from Ponchatoula, has been playing fullback along with John David Moore and David Ducre, Miles said.

Follow Ross Dellenger on Twitter: @DellengerAdv.