Five Biggest Takeaways From LSU After Spring

With the conclusion of Saturday’s Spring Game, that puts a wrap on spring practice for the LSU Tigers. This period is a time for veterans to take ownership of starting roles while newcomers try to make a good first impression. It is also a time for Brian Kelly and his coaching staff to identify their strengths while improving on their weaknesses.

This spring, after seeing multiple spring practices including the spring game plus talking to coaches and players, here are five takeaways of where the LSU Tigers currently stand after spring football.

1. Garrett Nussmeier is in total control of the offense:

If there was ever any doubt, Garrett Nussmeier ended it this Saturday as the Tigers’ gunslinger was in total control and command of the first team offense. No quarterback could have played any better than what Nussmeier did against the first team defense as he completed all seven of his passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns on three drives against the first team defense. The way the offense looks may look different from last year’s prolific offense, but paired with talented receivers, this year’s version has a chance to be very explosive thanks to 13 working the controls.

LSU QB Garrett Nussmeier (Photo taken by Billy Metcalf)

2. The wide receiver room is once again in a good place.

The talent has been undeniable, but it is about being consistent in catching the football that has prevented Kyren Lacy from being a number one or two receiver. However, everybody is seeing a more focused, confident, and determined Kyren Lacy. That showed during spring football as almost every practice featured a big, circus catch by Lacy. His strong spring ended in a big way as he and Garrett Nussmeier connected on a 59 yard touchdown catch. It is telling that Lacy soaked everything in while being the number three receiver last year behind Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas. That should set him up for success in a breakout year. Chris Hilton Jr. has also proven to be a deep receiving threat for the Tigers and when healthy, has a chance to be one of the best receivers in the SEC.

Right now, there is a battle for the third wide receiver spot, but it is a good problem to have as there are four different players that are capable of being a starting receiver including former Alabama wide receiver Aaron Anderson, Kyle Parker, and two transfers that have performed well in the spring.

Mississippi State transfer Zavion Thomas showed off his big playmaking ability in the spring game when he caught a 45 yard touchdown in the spring game while Liberty transfer CJ Daniels showed off his strong hands and physicality by having two catches for 33 yards in the spring game.

Brian Kelly stated that he has seven wide receivers that he really likes that can all play. Add that to a tight end room that is going to be featured heavily in the offense, there are a lot of talented mouths to feed in the offense this fall, which is always a good problem to have.

LSU WR Zavion Thomas (11) (Photo taken by Billy Metcalf)

3. The defense still has a ways to go.

LSU head coach Brian Kelly made the first big moves in suring up the big defensive woes from last year by hiring a whole new defensive staff that features some of the best defensive position coaches in the country. It still takes a while for the coaches to fully instill what they want their players to be in their system. The spring game showed off those insufficiencies as the first team offense easily handled the first team defense as there were two busted coverages that ended up resulting in touchdowns. The run defense was not any better as Kaleb Jackson gashed the defense on a 32-yard touchdown run and Josh Williams ran through a big hole and made one guy miss to score a touchdown as well.

“We can’t let the ball over the top of our head. We had coverage mistakes and those can’t continue to happen. One of them was cover two and we’re in cover three and we’re playing cover two. You can’t have those kind of mistakes, they’re unacceptable and that’s gonna cost you a chance to be on the field. Then we just got flat out, out run for the football. We were in the coverage where we’re supposed to be over the top and got beat in those situations.”

LSU HC Brian Kelly on the defense

Miscommunication in the secondary along with lack of depth at defensive tackle are two worrisome issues from the spring that the coaches will need to address not only in the fall, but also in the transfer portal.

LSU RB Kaleb Jackson gashes the first team defense with a 32 yard touchdown run in the spring game. (Photo taken by Billy Metcalf)

4. Young defensive players impress and could get more opportunities in the fall:

Although the first team defense struggled, there were some positives to look at that side of the football as the second team defense got the better of the second team offense. The defense looked strong thanks to some strong performances from young, but talented defenders.

The biggest surprise of the spring was the emergence of freshman PJ Woodland, who ended up getting first team reps at cornerback. The Oak Grove (MS) product is still trying to put on pounds, but his aggressiveness and his ability to press receivers at the line of scrimmage has impressed Corey Raymond.

“Competitiveness. PJ Woodland is a competitor. He’s feisty, he’s physical, and he can run. More than anything, for a freshman, we’ve thrown him out there with the ones some and thrown him out there against our top receivers and he competes. That’s where it starts, but he has the physical tools. He has long levers, he’s physical and he can run, so I’ve been impressed with him. It wasn’t easy. Those first three days before spring break I guarantee you he was saying ‘what in the world did I do coming here early?’ but he’s been really impressive these last few days.”

LSU DC Blake Baker on PJ Woodland

Speaking of impressive freshmen defensive backs, Dashawn McBryde has definitely passed the eye test with his big, physical frame that can match up against bigger wide receivers and tight ends, but at the same time, has the ball skills necessary to become a ballhawk. That was shown in the spring game when the Denham Springs product intercepted AJ Swann in the red zone.

Although not a freshman, Kylin Jackson is a young defensive back in his second year that showed his ability in the spring game with three tackles, a sack, and a PBU.

Finally, there is freshman defensive end Gabriel Reliford, who got on Coach Kelly’s radar with a four tackle, two sack, and 3.5 TFL performance in the spring game.

Especially, with the defense still trying to search for answers, the answer could be any of these young players that got the chance to shine in Tiger Stadium on Saturday.

LSU DB Dashawn McBryde gets a interception in the end zone during the spring game. (Photo taken by Billy Metcalf)

5. The QB2 Competition is still far from being resolved.

There were a lot of questions heading into the spring not about who QB1 would be, but who QB2 would be, and the questions still linger after spring. All spring, the competition seesawed back and forth between Rickie Collins and AJ Swann. Both quarterbacks did not do much in the spring game as far as trying to separate from the other as the two combined to only complete 10 of 21 passes for 107 yards. To make things even more complicated, freshman Colin Hurley, who came to LSU as an early enrollee had the best performance of the three by completing four of six passes for 77 yards including a 67 yard touchdown strike to Khai Prean.

While it is clear that Garrett Nussmeier is the team’s starting quarterback, it is going to be just as important in the fall to find a consistent second option just in case something were to happen to Nussmeier.

See all of our LSU practice reports from the spring below!