Garrett Nussmeier, First Team Offense Shines While Young Defensive Players Elevate Their Stock in Spring Game

Last fall, the consistent theme for LSU was how explosive the offense was, but at the same time, the defense gave up just as many explosive plays. Things were pretty much the same when it came to this year’s spring game as the first team offense got the best of the first team defense scoring three touchdowns on three drives.

LSU QB Garrett Nussmeier was in command completing all 7 of his passes including two that went for touchdowns. (Photo taken by Billy Metcalf)

“We have been striving for controlling the line of scrimmage, running the football, and that will set up the explosiveness within this offense. It is not going to be Jayden Daniels, Malik Nabers, Brian Thomas. It is going to have a different look to the explosiveness. You can still be explosive, but it starts at the line of scrimmage.”

LSU HC Brian Kelly on offensive identity

Garrett Nussmeier showed that he was in total command of the offense and frequently showed off his rocket arm with two deep touchdown strikes on busted coverage. Nussmeier completed all seven of his passes for 187 yards. The first touchdown was thrown to a wide open Zavion Thomas from 45 yards out while the second touchdown was thrown to projected WR1 Kyren Lacy, who was streaking down the sidelines wide open for a 59 yard catch and run.

“I thought he did a really nice job. The throw as he stepped up in the pocket was quintessential in terms of what he’s able to do. He keeps his eyes down the field. As he steps up in the pocket, he sees an open receiver down the field. I thought he was clean today. I thought he was efficient. I thought he did the things that we expected him to do.”

LSU HC Brian Kelly on Garrett Nussmeier

Kaleb Jackson also showed some of his raw potential as he broke through the line and scored on a 32 yard touchdown scamper to give the first team offense three scores against the first team defense.

“What I liked about Kaleb was his patience today. He was a lot more patient on his running fits. He was a lot more north and south. He had been a guy that had a tendency to bounce out and bleed out to the sideline instead of just hitting the thing north and south, and that was really encouraging. With his physicality and speed, if he hits those things north and south as you saw on the goal line piece of our scrimmage, he can crease a defense.”

LSU HC Brian Kelly on Kaleb Jackson
LSU RB Kaleb Jackson runs for a touchdown during the 2024 spring game. (Photo taken by Billy Metcalf)

Although the first team defense struggled, linebacker Harold Perkins Jr. looked comfortable and made some plays on the inside with four tackles, a sack, and a TFL.

“I thought Harold Perkins did a really nice job working in the box and seeing counters. We were purposeful in running the ball at him, making him defend, get over the top of the veer block of the tackle, getting it back out and forcing to tackle that so that was good to see.”

LSU HC Brian Kelly on LB Harold Perkins Jr.

The depth of the defense also showed as plenty of young players flashed in the spring game.

It was headlined by freshman defensive end Gabriel Reliford, who consistently showed pressure off the edge with two sacks. The Evangel Christian Academy product also had four tackles, two sacks, and 3.5 TFLs. His performance skyrocketed his stock and could potentially get him some looks against the first team offensive line.

“Gabe was going up against a freshman, and he’s a freshman. I get that, but now, we’re going to have to take Gabe and we’re going to have to get Gabe some reps against Will Campbell. We’re going to have to get him up against Emery Jones because he’s earned that now.”

LSU Head Coach Brian Kelly on Gabriel Reliford

Fellow early freshman enrollee Dashawn McBryde snagged a pick in the end zone during the red zone portion of the game while sophomore safety Kylin Jackson added three tackles, a sack, and a PBU.

A big storyline coming in was to see who would separate themselves at QB2 between Rickie Collins and AJ Swann. As up in the air as it was before spring, it is just now as questionable after spring as both quarterbacks combined to complete 10 of 21 passes for 107 yards.

However, Colin Hurley gave Tiger fans a glimpse into the future when the early enrollee threw a 64 yard touchdown strike to Khai Prean.

In the end, the final score is only just a number as it turned out to be a tie in the end with the offense tying the defense with a final score of 34-34, but just like any other spring game, there were some positives and some negatives.

Mississippi State transfer Zavion Thomas was one of the positives from today’s spring game as he showed his big play ability with a deep touchdown catch from Garrett Nussmeier. (Photo taken by Billy Metcalf)

With the first team offense not skipping a beat and some young defenders being able to shine on a big stage in front of the LSU fans, there was a lot to like, but Kelly and the rest of the Tigers coaches will be looking to sure up some holes heading into fall camp.

“Some guys took this as a real game opportunity. Kyren Lacy has had a great spring. Let’s see him in a game-like situation. I thought that was clear. Then, the other thing we highlights is a running game and how important that is with our offensive line to exert our will, and I thought I saw that. Now, you also saw the things that we have to get better at. Certainly, we can’t let the ball over our head. We had coverage mistakes. Those can’t continue to happen, certainly. We’ve got to evaluate and recruit at the defensive tackle position. That’s a must. I like what our edges are doing. We’re getting good pressure from the edge, but we’ve got to be really stout inside so those are a couple of the observations that I think were what we talked about as a group in the sessions that we had that I saw today.”

LSU HC Brian Kelly on what he liked and what he wants to see improvement after spring game

We will have more breakdown from the spring game this week so make sure to keep up to date with everything going on at!

Final Stats:

Offense Passing

PASS TOTALS21-343713062

Offense Receiving

17HILTON JR.,CHRIS11601616333
14 RECEIVERS2032936416.53459

Offense Rushing

9 RUSHERS34691322

Offense Punting


Offense Field Goals


Offense All Purpose Yards


Offense Defense

#Player (Starter)TotTkSoloSackTFLIntBrUpQBHFF

Defense Defense

#Player (Starter)TotTkSoloSackTFLIntBrUpQBHFF
33Weeks,West (LB)50000000
95Washington,Shone (DT)5111.50000
19Reliford,Gabriel (DE)4323.50010
30Penn III,Greg (LB)4000.50000
4Perkins Jr.,Harold (LB)33110000
27Woodland,PJ (CB)31000000
40Weeks,Whit (LB)3101.50000
16Womack,Da’Shawn (DE)20000000
25Toviano,Javien (CB)2100.50000
26Stamps,Ashton (CB)22000000
44Brathwaite,Christia (LB)20000000
48Cobbins,Kolaj (LB)22110000
56Makane’ole,Kimo (DL)2100.50000
97Carpenter,Dylan (DE)2111.50000
98Hickey,Preston (DT)20000000
12Johnson,JK (CB)11000000
15Ryan,Sage (CB)10000000
17Brown,Jyaire (CB)11000000
38Blount,Darian (CB)11000000
42Keys,Davhon (LB)10000000
46Singleton,Tylen (LB)10000000
55Ibieta,Jake (DE)10000000
92Lee,Jalen (DT)1000.50000
93Breaux,Ahmad (DE)10000000
96Johnson,De’Myrion (DT)10000000