Today, LSU was back at the practice field in front of the media and the biggest takeaway had to be the number of offensive weapons that quarterbacks Jayden Daniels and Garrett Nussmeier have at their disposal.
For Coach Kelly, Coach Denbrock, and Coach Hankton, the coaching staff has a good problem on their hands in which receivers they should start on the field. The talent on the field showed out today in 7v7 against the defensive backs.
Thursday’s practice was won by the defensive backs, but the receivers had a bounce back session in the 7v7 session today.
Chris Hilton Jr continues to have his best offseason as a LSU Tiger as not once, but twice scored on deep touchdown throws. The first one, he beat Ashton Stamps on a deep touchdown pass from Jayden Daniels and the second one, he made a great adjustment on a deep ball thrown from Garrett Nussmeier where he beat Duce Chestnut in coverage.
The speedster from Zachary was the biggest winner today in the receiver group, but Kyren Lacy was a close second as he had two touchdown catches in the redzone period including one in which he mossed Sage Ryan in the back of the endzone.
Malik Nabers was the third receiver to score as he got open on a crossing route in the left of the end zone to score. While those three can certainly make an impact, Brian Thomas got some solid work today and Shelton Sampson is rising up the depth chart working with the second team.
Although the wide receivers won the majority of the time, there were some good plays made by the secondary as Sage Ryan got a pick six when a football went through the hands of freshman running back Kaleb Jackson. Also, talented defensive back Denver Harris made a great break on the football in 7v7 as well. Clearly, the talent is there for the former five-star Texas A&M signee to have a role on this defense, but the coaches want to make sure that he is focused on continuing to prove the coaching staff that he is mature enough to get starting reps.
Besides the interception, which was not his fault as it went through the hands of the receiver, Jayden Daniels looked really sharp today completing all of his passes including a touchdown pass in 7v7 and two touchdown passes in red zone.
Garrett Nussmeier also rifled in some passes displaying the arm strength including a deep touchdown connection with Chris Hilton Jr.
It was a great day for the offense and while that side of the ball is in a good spot, the potential is there for the defense to have a strong season as well, especially with a great defensive front and another year in defensive coordinator Matt House’s system. Speaking of Coach House, he met with the media today to give some updates on how the defensive side of the football is after offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock met with the media on Thursday.
“So far, we are in the eighth practice of fall camp. We are growing, but by no means we are ready for competition yet, but we are in the process and guys need to continue to embrace the process and grow everyday.”LSU DC Matt House on defense’s progress in practice
Today, it was interesting that safety Major Burns was working with linebackers Harold Perkins and Omar Speights in some drills today. With his length and athleticism, it looks like Coach House is experimenting with putting Burns closer to the line of scrimmage as a potential box safety. Coach House had this to say about Burns’ versatility after I asked him about it at the press conference.
“Major’s improved. He’s a guy that has length and the speed to give the options to do different things. It’s also time for him to take his development into the next level.”LSU DC Matt House on Major Burns
Versatility and putting the defensive backs in different roles in which they can excel at is what Coach House and safeties coach Kerry Cooks have been focusing on with the secondary.
There have been some players that have flashed in the secondary, but the key for Coach House is that he wants to see the secondary piece it together on a more consistent basis.
“We have guys that have flashed. Duce has brought in a couple of practices together this week. Ashton Stamps is growing up fast. Zy has done some good things. We just have to continue to grow.”LSU DC Matt House on the cornerbacks
Two of those cornerbacks that have consistently been getting starting snaps are Zy Alexander and Duce Chustnut. As two players that have come in through the transfer portal, House can see why both guys are savvy veterans.
“Duce is a heady player. What I have seen is that he’s got a unique skillset in baiting guys. That’s the thing that you can tell and that is Duce has played a lot of football.”LSU DC Matt House on Duce Chestnut
Along with some of the veterans, there have been a couple of freshmen that have caught his eye including one that is also in the backend of the defense that has been rising up the depth chart at cornerback.
Coach House would also go on to say that Ashton Stamps really wanted to play at LSU as he came to the LSU camp three times in order to earn an offer. That type of commitment and dedication shows why the freshman from Metairie, Louisiana wants to compete right away.
Although not a freshman, another player that has instantly put his stamp on this team is another Southland Conference transfer in Andre Sam from McNeese State, who has been impressive this week in getting first team reps at safety.
“We are really pleased to have Andre. I love his energy, veteran presence, his buy in. He is a guy that has embraced everything we do here. It is great to have him here and he is going to be an integral part of what we do.”LSU DC Matt House on Andre Sam
Moving to the defensive line, another player that has showcased his versatility already is Da’Shawn Womack. When asked about the role Womack is going to play, this is all he had to say.
While also working Da’Shawn Womack at Jack, the Tigers have other options to replace BJ Ojulari in that role. Coach House talks about a couple of those options that could step up as pass rushers including two pass rushers that have come through the transfer portal.
“I love the traits that both of those guys play. Ovie is a guy that you want to play with focus and attention to detail. He is doing that. Bradyn is a guy that has a great attitude everyday so I am excited about the trajectory of those guys.”LSU DC Matt House on Ovie Oghoufo and Bradyn Swinson at Jack
When healthy, Maason Smith can wreck an offensive game plan on the inside and a lot of people have been following on the Terrebonne five star’s health heading into the season. Being around him everyday, House likes where he is at, but Smith continues to shake the rust off.
“As we all know, Maason has elite size and athleticism for a big man. He would be the first to tell you that he is knocking some rust off. If you look at his first eight practices he’s had when he was able to go 11 on 11, he hasn’t been able to do that in a year. What you do see is that size and that athleticism. Now, he is just like everybody else. He’s got improvement to be made, and if he would tell you, he would tell you that he needs to improve on his pad level.”LSU DC Matt House on Maason Smith
“I have been pleased with the buy in there. Two, I have been pleased with the competition. I have been excited about Jordan. You haven’t got the chance to see him in the spring. He’s done a nice job. Paris has done a nice job. Jalen Lee has gotten better since the beginning of summer. I can tell you that they bring competition and depth.”LSU DC Matt House on defensive line depth
At linebacker, Coach House potentially has the best duo at the position in the country heading into the season in Harold Perkins and Omar Speights. Having a veteran guy like Omar Speights will help the sophomore star linebacker develop at an even higher level.
“Right now, you are in the process of trying to teach him multiple positions and when you get in a specific game, you see the scheme to best stop that team not only for Harold, but for all of our players. When you are looking and trying to find roles, you are trying to find things that they can be successful at. What do they do well and what do they need to work at? That is really what the summer is all about.”LSU DC Matt House on Harold Perkins
With another year in the system with guys that he is more familiar with plus a coaching staff he is more familiar with, that familiarity will help even more than last year at the start of 2023.
“I think comfort is a relative term. Everybody wants to be comfortable, but what you do see is that you understand the expectations. We are all not trying to learn Coach Kelly’s program. We now know exactly what our traits are and what they look like. Now, there is an expectation for those that return to bring that to the next level.”LSU DC Matt House on familiarity with the defensive coaches and veteran players
The next LSU practice report will be on Monday as it will be a viewing only session. Until then, enjoy some of our previous LSU practice reports that you can find below!