Zach Mettenberger got all the accolades and buzz from the annual Spring Game, but the LSU defense showed it’s still just as dominant as ever.
”We haven’t lost a beat,” defensive end Sam Montgomery said. “We’re still dominating.”
“I think we have a lot of young guys that are ready to see some SEC football and championship football,” said cornerback Tyrann Mathieu, who had a relatively quiet day, breaking up two passes for his only statistics of the game. “They’ve been working on it all spring long and they’re going to work over the summer to prepare for the season.”
There are some needs the young players need to fill. Aside from linebacker, the Tigers will try to replace two of the top players in the upcoming NFL draft in cornerback Morris Claiborne and defensive tackle Michael Brockers.
Brockers’ spot has plenty of potential candidates – senior Josh Downs (three tackles, one sack) and sophomores Anthony Johnson (three tackles, one for loss) and Ego Ferguson (five tackles) all looked like capable candidates. It should be noted that Downs is the one that got to play for the White team.
On the other hand, there might be some angst about the cornerback spot, an area where LSU has had a seemingly endless supply of talent in recent years with players like Patrick Peterson, Claiborne and Mathieu.
While Claiborne’s old starting spot is in the capable hands of Tharold Simon, it’s the third cornerback spot, the player who would allow the ball-hawking Mathieu to slide over to the slot, where he can cover inside receivers or wreak havoc on a blitz, where there are question marks.
The player who beat Collins has confidence in him though.
“Jalen Collins is going to be a phenomenal player,” Beckham said. “He’s got a great body type, a 6-3, lanky corner. It’s hard to just get past him.”
Head coach Les Miles said he thought Collins would learn from his mistakes and he was glad the mistakes came on a March Saturday and not on a September Saturday.
“Every cornerback in America, including Patrick Peterson, gets beat,” Miles said. “And you absolutely have to respond. And I thought (Collins) did today. He got sharper.”
Tyrann Mathieu thinks Mettenberger will be the key for the Tigers.