LSU Head Coach Brian Kelly said that they are not sneaking up on everybody this season and he is right. After winning the SEC West a year ago and with a lot of those key contributors from last season coming back, LSU is expected to be one of the heavy favorites to win the SEC in 2023. Although LSU was not at their full arsenal for this year’s spring game because of players recovering from injury and newcomers not arriving until the summer, there was still a lot to like from what the Tigers showed on Saturday to show that they have what it takes to defend their SEC West crown. Here are a couple of my takeaways why LSU is in a great position to contend for a College Football Playoff spot.
1. LSU’s quarterback room is one of the best in the entire country for 2023:
With the performance that both LSU quarterbacks Jayden Daniels and Garrett Nussmeier put on in the spring game plus add in the fact what both players did in improving over the course of last season, this LSU quarterback room may be the best in the country. Even though Daniels was wearing a non-contact jersey, the casual fan could even tell that he is feeling a lot more comfortable in the pocket and going through his progressions entering his second season as a starter at LSU. LSU’s QB1 was nearly flawless as he only had one incompletion going 10 of 11 for 169 yards and two touchdowns. While the Tigers’ starting quarterback was nearly flawless so was the backup as Nussmeier completed 5 of 8 passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns. Nussmeier was even that productive while working a lot with the second-string offensive line group that is not at full strength right now sitting at only two scholarship guys rotating in that group. It is safe to say that no matter who is under center whether it is Daniels or Nussmeier over the course of the season that LSU will be fine at the quarterback position this fall and because of both players getting that extra experience, the passing game should be much more consistent, especially at the start of the season.
2. Kyren Lacy is on his way for a breakout season:
Despite losing Kayshon Boutte and Jaray Jenkins to the NFL, this receiving core may be even more dangerous. Everybody knows about Malik Nabers and what he brings to the table as the Tigers’ number one wide receiver and what Brian Thomas Jr. can do, but a player that sent a big message about what he can do as a receiver this year is Kyren Lacy. Highlighted by a one-handed grab that went over 70 yards for a touchdown, Lacy was the spring game’s biggest star as he led the Tigers with four catches for 92 yards. With a lot of attention going towards Nabers’ way, Lacy is going to have a lot of one-on-one opportunities over the course of the season and because of his big, physical 6’2, 213-pound frame, he has a chance to be a big part of this LSU offense. Add in guys like Nabers, Thomas, Chris Hilton Jr., Aaron Anderson, Landon Ibieta, the talented freshmen, and the tight ends like Mason Taylor, this receiving core will still be very dangerous as it has always been in Baton Rouge.
3. The defensive line is as deep as it has ever been.
Even without guys like Maason Smith, Mekhi Wingo, and Dashawn Womack available to play in the Spring Game, there are still a lot of great options to rely on. On the inside, Jacobian Guillory, Fitzgerald West, Paris Shand, Jordan Jefferson, and Jalen Lee have shown that they can all command the middle and substitute in if either Smith or Wingo need a break. On the outside, Quency Wiggins and Saivion Jones look like they are going to be forces to be reckoned with at defensive end. Then, I have not even talked about the Jack position that features a whole lot of options to look at including not only the five-star freshman Womack, but a couple of other new faces as well. The Jack position featured some of the biggest standouts from the spring game defensively and showcases the quality depth that I saw throughout spring practice. Texas transfer Ovie Oghoufo was wreaking havoc in the red zone period at the beginning of the scrimmage when he beat All-SEC left tackle Will Campbell and sacked Jayden Daniels. He then followed it up by making an impressive come from behind tackle to save a touchdown. Also, Oregon transfer Bradyn Swinson and freshman standout Jaxon Howard both had sacks as well in the spring game. Once Maason Smith and Mekhi Wingo are fully healthy and ready to go, then this defensive line has a chance to be a very special group.
4. Harold Perkins will be even better this season.
Throughout spring football, defensive coordinator Matt House has worked with star linebacker Harold Perkins over the offseason and has moved him into different spots. Last year, Perkins was sensational off the edge in creating havoc as a pass rusher. The freshman All-American came on in the second half of the season when he was figuring out the playbook and the speed of the SEC. Now, heading into his second season, Perkins has had a full spring to add nuances to his game while becoming a more versatile player. This was even seen in the spring game. Perkins showed that he can still be as dangerous rushing from the inside and coming in on stunts that help free him. In the spring game, #4 had a tackle, a half sack, and a half TFL. Not only will he be utilized at different looks in House’s system, but he will have a counterpart in the 4-2-5 defense that could make LSU the best linebacking duo in the SEC. Oregon State linebacker transfer Omar Speights will take a lot of pressure off Perkins and his ability to be a thumper inside while also showing off his ability to run sideline to sideline will only help Harold Perkins even more into becoming a college football star.
5. Laterrance Welch gives some clarity on a crowded defensive backfield.
It was not the best performance from the secondary as a whole in the spring game, especially considering how both the quarterbacks played in the spring game, but this defensive backfield is still a talented group and perhaps is just as or more talented than last year’s group. Also, add in the fact that the Tigers were without its two starting safeties in the spring game, it makes a difference when going against a talented receiving core that is expected to be one of the best in the SEC. If there was one player from the entire spring game with perhaps the exception of Kyren Lacy that benefited the most from his performance was Laterrance Welch. Considering all the new talent that is coming in from the transfer portal including former five stars and Division I veteran defensive backs that arrived, it is often hard to remember some of the veterans that are on LSU’s roster. Welch made sure to remind everybody that he is also in the conversation of being one of LSU’s starting cornerbacks and he did so with a standout performance in the spring game. He went against some of the Tigers’ top receivers and passed every challenge tested as he had a couple of pass breakups in the secondary. There is still a long way of deciding who will be the Tigers’ top two cornerbacks, but one thing is for sure and that is the former Wreckin’ Ram will be a leading candidate.