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Anthony Jennings, Brandon Harris to split LSU spring game reps

BATON ROUGE, La. -- Les Miles and his coaching staff haven't decided how to divide reps between their quarterbacks in Saturday's LSU spring game, but Miles said Tuesday afternoon, "It'll be pretty even."

Much like last season's spring game, when Anthony Jennings and Brandon Harris split time between the first- and second-team offenses, their battle to claim the starting job will be the most scrutinized story of the day.

Miles said he will evaluate the quarterbacks' performances using a number of objectives.

"Run the team, use the tools at hand. Run the offense for us. Let it work," Miles said. "Take care of the ball and move it aggressively. Those kind of things."

But don't expect Saturday's game to settle anything. If spring game performances were the ultimate measuring stick, Harris would have been LSU's starting quarterback last season.

He easily outperformed Jennings in last year's spring game, tossing three touchdowns, rushing for another and compiling 195 passing yards and 76 on the ground. Meanwhile, Jennings had two interceptions returned for touchdowns and finished 9-for-17 for 157 yards.

But in the season opener against Wisconsin, Jennings was under center -- as he was to open 11 of the Tigers' other 12 games in 2014. Spring game performances aside, Harris quickly learned once the season started that playing quarterback in the SEC as a true freshman is no easy feat.

"It's, 'I can walk on the field and just kind of figure I can do this, because I've done it in high school,'" Miles said, "but then, 'Oh my gosh, there's a little bit more to it than I thought.' That cadence thing really works on a quarterback. Stem and motion. And then the play, executing the play takes some work."

Miles said Harris is closer to being able to play like the coaching staff expects from its quarterback after getting "a pile of reps" this spring. So while he might not cement a starting job even with a standout performance on Saturday, Harris and his Tigers teammates can prove that they deserve consideration by excelling in the gamelike environment.

"They can affirm the spot that they have, and they can make a play that allows that coach to say, 'He needs to make that play on Saturdays,'" Miles said. "And to me that's making the team; but it's really for those guys that have already made an impression that just need to confirm it."

Miles said the coaching staff has not set the rosters for the spring game or settled on an exact format, although he confirmed there will be a running clock throughout the second half, as is the norm in the Tigers' spring game.

He will decide later this week whether to pit the starting offense and defense against each other or whether to put them on the same team against the reserves.

Asked what will factor into that decision, Miles responded, "Health. The matchup of the one offense or defense versus the two, and make sure it's going to be competitive, certainly."

There also is the necessity of seeing as much as possible of reserves who have had little on-field experience. Miles said after Tuesday's practice that he feels confident in his starters but that building quality depth behind them remains an objective.

Saturday's game will be a valuable evaluation tool for Miles and his staff in that regard.

"What has to come is some of our second-team guys will look forward to go onto the field and play, and play big roles. That's really what we're looking at," Miles said. "We like our first team. Our first team's good -- offense, defense and special teams. We just need to make sure that we develop some depth that allows us to when we substitute have the same style of performance from that LSU Tiger, even though he's a little younger."