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Starting Spots Up For Grabs As LSU Plays Spring Game

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LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis will be using the spring game to decide a number of key starting positions for the 2014 season. Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images.
LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis will be using the spring game to decide a number of key starting positions for the 2014 season. Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images.

With spring practices coming to a close for the LSU Tigers, many starting spots remain up in the air. The spring game will be a nice representation of where coach Les Miles and the rest of his staff believe players stand. With battles at multiple positions, it should be an exciting game with playing time up for grabs.

Here is a breakdown of the key battles.

Defensive Tackle

Christian LaCouture is a name people should get used to hearing. He stepped it up this spring and has become a leader among the big fellas in the middle. If I had to pick the other starter today I would go with Quentin Thomas. That second defensive tackle spot is a little iffy to decide with guys like Frank Herron sliding over from defensive end and former redshirts Greg Gilmore and Maquedius Bain showing potential in practice. They will all get a good amount of reps, but that second defensive tackle battle is going to be fun to watch.

Right Guard

This spot comes down to three players: Fehoko Fanaika, Evan Washington, and Ethan Pocic. Jonah Austin is also a name to consider, but I see him as an outside chance. The race is pretty open, but I see Washington emerging from the pack. He’s the most balanced of the three, with great strength and mobility. Pulling from that right guard position is key and that works in his favor.

Wide Receiver

This is probably the most uncertain situation LSU has experienced at wide receiver in years. Travin Dural is the only returnee with playing experience, yet he had only seven receptions last season. Still, he’s most likely a lock as the primary receiver. Then it gets confusing. Quantavius Leslie and John Diarse came out strong early in the spring, but Leslie started to fall off a bit and Diarse got banged up. Then Avery Peterson and Kevin Spears, who were supposed to shine this spring, were plagued with the injury bug. Rob Bolden switched from quarterback to receiver, so expect him to get some targets. The spring game should be wide open with a ton of passing to get all the receivers some action.

Quarterback

The job will go to either Anthony Jennings or Brandon Harris. Jennings is the early favorite, but Harris is gaining fast. Harris showed his youth early in the spring, which was expected, but he has matured as practice continued. Jennings has displayed leadership qualities by firing up teammates and coaching up some of the other quarterbacks. His play, however, has been shaky. The new receiving corps has taken time to get used to and that plays in Harris' favor. With new receivers, it becomes a matter of who is on the same page more often. I expect loads of similar looks between Jennings and Harris so offensive coordinator Cam Cameron can ultimately decide who takes control of the offense.

Linebackers

D.J. Welter returns in the middle, but Kendell Beckwith has been moved from the outside to his natural middle backer position. This competition is overlooked in my opinion because Beckwith is extremely promising and could develop into a machine at his original position. But the main attraction among the linebackers is on the outside. With Kwon Alexander holding down the weak side, the strong side slot is open with Lamar Louis as the favorite. Contenders are Deion “Debo” Jones and Ronnie Feist. Jones showed glimpses of excitement last season and I see him giving Louis a run for his money. Don’t be surprised if Beckwith gets a few looks, too. He’s got a lot of talent and defensive coordinator John Chavis will look to get the best guys on the field.

It should be an exciting day on Saturday with many unfamiliar faces getting reps and fighting for starting jobs. Look for this spring game to be intense as ever with stars emerging in front of our eyes.