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Hobbs Column: You'll only see what LSU wants you to see

Last Modified: Friday, April 19, 2013 10:13 AM

By Scooter Hobbs / American Press

I always get a kick out of the press box scene for LSU’s spring football game every year.

That would be tomorrow for this year, the Purple-Gold game, I guess they call it.

But it never fails up high in the press headquarters. It’s a rather informal gathering compared the media pomp and circumstance for regular-season games, meaning, of course, no free food for the huddled masses.

But, after some obligatory chit-chat, as the two teams are loosely divided, there’s a select group of mostly website writers who’ll turn dead serious, asking for quiet please, going as far as taking a seat and actually whipping out working binoculars to study the action intently while taking furious and detailed notes.

I have no idea what they could possibly be writing down, no clue what they could be overanalyzing.

After all, they are watching a farce. LSU is playing LSU, for better or worse, usually with a lopsided split, and, peer as they might, nothing that happens down there Saturday will give anybody any clue as to whether the Tigers might beat Alabama in November.

But they study the action intently, scribble some more, never missing a play through the binoculars, dissecting every nuance with furrowed brows and occasional all-knowing nods.

There’s a code down there to be cracked, if only they study it intently enough, the key to the season may well be in the spring tea leaves, so they peer downward, with notations and, who knows, possibly footnotes.

The real show-offs will tell you that their binoculars never stray from the grunt work along the line of scrimmage, where the real answers are hidden in the mayhem.

I’ll have to try it some time.

The press box veterans amuse ourselves by making fun of the busybodies, to be honest, which is about as painless a way to pass this day as possible.

Fortunately, it only comes once a year.

Give LSU credit, though. At least it won’t charge admission for this thing — and believe me, if it thought it could get away with it, ol’ Flagship U. would not pass on an opportunity to pull in a few extra coins.

Unfortunately, it won’t be televised by ESPN this year, robbing many Tiger fans who can’t get there in person an opportunity for an excellent, surefire Saturday afternoon nap.

But, OK, I’ll play along here.

It’s almost traditional in my line of work to outline what we should all be looking for when the Tigers play reasonable facsimiles of their brethren Tigers at 2 p.m. Saturday in Tiger Stadium.

Mainly, I will be looking (hoping, actually) to see if they start taking the “running time” approach to the game clock earlier than, as promised, the start of the second half.

Otherwise, unfortunately, you will see whatever the LSU coaches want you to see, to the point that the conspiracist in me sometimes wonders if the whole thing isn’t scripted. There always seems to be a big or exciting play just when the whole crowd, such that it is, appears ready to nod off.

Fortunately though, despite the best efforts of the coaches, you can also see whatever you want to see in a spring game and relay it to the water cooler on Monday.

For extra points this year, come up with some “subtle” differences, preferably positive, that you detected in the flashy ways of new offensive coordinator Cam Cameron compared to the Neanderthals of the past few years.

Warning: The fact that LSU’s offense has apparently sworn off “huddling” is old news, long ago leaked from spring workouts.

You’re going to have to do better than that, perhaps with detailed anecdotes of how comfortable quarterback Zach Mettenberger does or does not look without the security of the huddle.

The funny thing is, although everybody knows that LSU’s defense has been decimated by early exits to the NFL draft and is the real question mark and key for next season, it is still the offensive fireworks everybody will want to be amused by.

You, the more knowing fan, will be intently watching the defense, and you might well pay particular attention to middle linebacker, where nobody will be able to replicate the fine work Kevin Minter did with the position last year.

But the key, apparently, the big spring experiment, has been to see if they can keep Lamin Barrow from being forced to play it (ideally, he can stay at his natural outside spot).

For that to happen, either D.J. Welter or Lamar Louis, preferably both, have got to prove they can handle the spot even while being a tad undersized for it.

Analyze it to death.

But if you really want to be honest and all-knowing, you can sum up a spring game with one sentence:

It was pretty obvious they didn’t want to show any of the good stuff.

• • •

Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at shobbs@americanpress.com

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