Spring football hits its stride in the SEC

Published 6:19 pm Friday, April 5, 2019

The real 2019 football season doesn’t begin until Aug. 31. The 2019 spring football season kicks into gear on Saturday.

Four Southeastern Conference teams — Ole Miss, LSU, Arkansas and South Carolina — will finish their spring practice sessions with their annual spring games on Saturday. Six more, including Mississippi State, will play them next weekend.

Vanderbilt had its spring game on March 30.

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The spring games are the final major on-field checkpoint before preseason practice starts in August, and one last chance to calibrate areas of concern and emphasis.

“I want to see them play underneath the lights. I want to see the same thing we’ve seen in practice from some players,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said at a press conference on Wednesday. “We still have a lot of questions along the defensive line. We need to see our corners play the deep ball and tackle in space. There’s some things we need to improve on.”

One of the big things LSU has focused on this spring is a transition to a more open, spread-style offense. Orgeron said the Tigers’ offense had no turnovers in 110 plays during a scrimmage last weekend.

Orgeron also said the Tigers have been running a lot of four- and five-receiver sets this spring, in a break from their traditional run-heavy offense. He said a lot of that might not be on display Saturday, however.

“We’re not going to show everything. It’s going to be a very basic spring game. We’ll show some things we’ve been doing, but we’re not going to open up the playbook,” Orgeron said.

Up in Oxford, Ole Miss is trying to break in a host of new players on offense as well as new schemes on both sides of the ball.

Matt Corral will take over as the starting quarterback, and he’ll have to find some new targets with top receivers A.J. Brown and D.K. Metcalf gone to the NFL. The spring game will also be a test for the Rebels’ offense and defense under new coordinators Rich Rodriguez and Mike MacIntyre.

Ole Miss is installing a 3-4 defensive alignment and it took a while for them to start playing rather than thinking about assignments on every snap.

“We’re getting to a point where we’re just playing.” said sophomore linebacker Jacquez Jones. “The way Coach MacIntyre breaks it down is easy to understand. So we’re getting to a point where we know it just like that.”

Oxford Eagle sports editor Nathanael Gabler contributed to this report.

April 6

11 a.m. SEC Network – South Carolina
1 p.m. SEC Network – LSU
3 p.m. ESPNU – Arkansas
3 p.m. SEC Network – Ole Miss
April 12
5 p.m. SEC Network – Kentucky
April 13
1 p.m. ESPN2 – Alabama
1 p.m. ESPNU – Mississippi State
1 p.m. SEC Network – Texas A&M
3 p.m. SEC Network – Auburn
3 p.m. ESPNU – Missouri
5 p.m. SEC Network – Tennessee

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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