LSU wraps up spring practice on Saturday with its annual National L Club spring game (4 p.m. ET, SEC Network). Here are three things to follow:
1. Dave Aranda’ defense: Saturday gives us our first glimpse of new defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s 3-4 defensive scheme. Take a look at how players such as Arden Key and Tashawn Bower are handling the transition from defensive end to outside linebacker. Check out how the defensive linemen handle their new roles – such as when Davon Godchaux has to face a double team on the plays where he lines up at nose. This game won’t tell us much since LSU is sure to play things close to the vest prior to opening the 2016 season – the Tigers will probably play their share of nickel defense on Saturday, as well – but Saturday is still notable since we haven’t seen Aranda’s rearranged crew do anything in a competitive environment.
2. Passing game: LSU coach Les Miles has said that the Tigers focused more heavily on the passing game this spring than in previous years. Let’s see whether the additional work yielded a more competent aerial attack. It’s no secret that LSU’s passing game has been a disappointment since Zach Mettenberger entered the NFL following the 2013 season. But Miles said recently that junior Brandon Harris now looks like a starting quarterback, a year after experiencing growing pains in his first season as a starter. Let’s see what Harris accomplishes on Saturday – and who he targets most frequently. Malachi Dupre is a given, but who else will step up with senior Travin Dural sidelined? D.J. Chark or Jazz Ferguson? Slot receiver Derrick Dillon? Perhaps one of the early enrollees, Stephen Sullivan or Dee Anderson?
3. The new guys: Just as we’ll get a first look at Aranda’s defense on Saturday, this also will represent the first opportunity for multiple players to play for the first time in front of a crowd at Tiger Stadium. Sullivan and Anderson are among five LSU early enrollees, along with linebackers Devin White and Michael Divinity and cornerback Saivion Smith. All five players were ESPN 300 recruits, led by No. 31 overall prospect Smith, who seems likely to get some time with the first-team defense on Saturday. The list of newcomers does not end there, however. There are nine redshirt freshmen – a group that includes Dillon, running back Lanard Fournette, safety Xavier Lewis and offensive linemen Chidi Okeke, George Brown Jr. and Adrian Magee – who should also get their first chance to play in Tiger Stadium. And don’t forget Purdue transfer Danny Etling. The junior quarterback will see plenty of action Saturday, his first live game-like reps since joining the Tigers last summer and sitting out the 2015 season under NCAA transfer rules.