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Sunday, April 6, 2014

Gambit Sports: Dispatch from LSU's spring game

Posted By on Sun, Apr 6, 2014 at 10:59 AM


Tiger eye at midfield in Tiger Stadium.

  • JEFF PIZZO
  • Tiger eye at midfield in Tiger Stadium.

On a cool and windy afternoon in Tiger Stadium, the White team defeated the Purple team 42-14 in LSU's annual Spring Game at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, An attendance of 18,565 watched true freshman quarterback Brandon Harris play pretty well, while returning quarterback Anthony Jennings struggled mightily. Approximately four months ago, Jennings went 7-19 (37%) for 82 yards and 1 interception in LSU's win over Iowa in the Outback Bowl. On Saturday afternoon, those numbers were a little similar. Jennings went 9-17 (53%) for 157 yards with 2 interceptions (both returned for touchdowns), 1 touchdown and was sacked four times. Brandon Harris, the Bossier City native, seemed to shine. Harris was 11-28 (39%) for 195 yards, 4 total touchdowns (3 passing & 1 rushing) with zero interceptions and no sacks.


Quarterback play was the story of the day. Both Harris and Jennings struggled in the first quarter. On a 3rd and 8 on the Purple 29 yard line, Jennings waited too long on a pass play to FB Connor Neighbors and the pass was picked off by Jesuit alum and New Orleans native, Deion Jones. Jones returned the interception 67 yards for the first score of the game making it 7-0 Purple. After that pick, the game turned a bit into the Brandon Harris show. Harris tossed 3 touchdowns in the second quarter all to different receivers. The first was to DeSean Smith for 19 yards on a 3rd and nine play. The second TD pass was to FB Connor Neighbors on a 2nd and goal and lastly was the third touchdown on a beautiful 21 yard touch pass to wide receiver Travin Dural as time expired in the first half.

Summary

• As I mentioned earlier, the pretty good play of Harris compared to the not so good play of Jennings was the story of the game. Harris, when moved from the purple team to the white team - which was dominated by more the Tiger starting players - showed his true skills. He showed poise in the pocket for the most part, although scrambled without pressure a few times and ran when it wasn't needed. He also missed a couple of wide open receivers with overthrown passes as well. For the most part, he did what he had to do. He had a fantastic 41 yard scamper to the Purple six yard line that eventually set up the Harris to Neighbors touchdown. On the run, Harris found a wide open middle, took off immediately, then headed to the left sideline where there was more wide open space before being forced out of bounds. To me, it was a run that showed not only Harris' speed, but his quick decision making. He didn't wait to run when the pocket collapsed. He showed the presence of mind to just take off and make something happen.


• On the flip side of that coin, Jennings seemed to show just the opposite. He was hesitant many times when escaping the pocket. He was sacked three consecutive times by defensive end Danielle Hunter and just was very much out of sync. Since Harris has obviously made this a tight quarterback race in only 90 days on the LSU campus, what will happen when fall practice comes around?


• Prediction - what will happen? Brandon Harris will be LSU's starting quarterback vs Wisconsin in August. It's just hard for me to believe that Miles and offensive coordinator Cam Cameron will let Harris' skills sit on the bench. While Saturday's Spring game was just the end of the Spring practice session, it showed that Harris has come a long way since being in high only four months ago.


Notes

• New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator Rob Ryan was in Tiger Stadium for the game.


New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator talks to LSU Head Coach Les Miles.

  • JEFF PIZZO
  • New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator talks to LSU Head Coach Les Miles.


• Outside linebacker Ronnie Feist led all defensive players with 14 tackles.

• Kwon Alexander returned an interception 26 yards for a touchdown.

• Offensively, there were a total of nine plays of 20 yards or more. This is something I touched on "things to look for" Friday afternoon.




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