LSU Spring Practice Report #1: Players Take On More Accountability With New Coaching Staff

Today, the media got its first access to spring practice and although it was only a 20 minute viewing period, there was a lot of action to see in the LSU indoor facility. Most noteworthy was not the players themselves, but the coaches as this was the first time that the media got to see the return of former defensive coaches Corey Raymond, Bo Davis, and Blake Baker that are back coaching their position including Baker, who is not only the linebackers coach, but the defensive coordinator. LSU head coach Brian Kelly got the chance to talk to the media after practice about how the defensive coaches are adjusting in their return back to LSU as Raymond, Davis, and Baker all did coach in Baton Rouge at one time.

“I have been happy with Corey’s attention to detail, his interaction with the defensive backs, and we have a number of guys including some new players including JK and Jyaire and all the other freshmen that are now sophomores that he had no idea who they were. He’s got a whole new group of kids he has to reintroduce himself to. I think he has done a good job from that perspective. His ability to engage and connect with the players that are here has been impressive.”

LSU head coach Brian Kelly on Corey Raymond

The return of Blake Baker also puts a magnifying glass on how he utilizes LSU’s star linebacker Harold Perkins Jr. After talking to the media, Kelly stated that Perkins will still work a lot at inside linebacker, but of course, Baker and the rest of the defensive coaches would love to move Perkins all around the defense.

“There is no question that Damone Clark is a really good pro and certainly had a great career here. Blake was a part of that and Damone has already been back. I’ve gotten the chance to talk to him about Blake and what he meant to him. Clearly, that has excited our linebackers as well when you bring back Damone and his experiences. Those kinds of situations are beneficial.”

LSU head coach Brian Kelly on Blake Baker

With old familiar faces returning back to the sidelines on the defensive side of the football, there are some familiar names that will be entering new roles on the offensive side as quarterbacks coach Joe Sloan will be taking on the play calling duties this fall.

LSU’s offense was one of the most productive in the country last fall. Even though there will be some pieces the offense will have to replace, the offense can still be just as productive this fall even though it may look differently than last season.

Case in point at the quarterback position, Garrett Nussmeier enters the spring as the starter and although Nussmeier will certainly not run the ball as much as Jayden Daniels, the Tigers will lean on the ground game in the more conventional way led by Kaleb Jackson, Josh Williams, and a veteran offensive line.

When it comes to the passing game, LSU has a chance to be just as dynamic despite having to lose two first round talents in Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas Jr. In practice today, Kyren Lacy, Chris Hilton Jr., and Aaron Anderson were getting first team reps with Nussmeier while CJ Daniels, Zavion Thomas, and Kyle Parker were working with Vanderbilt quarterback AJ Swann on the second team. Another player that could be primed for a breakout year is former five-star wide receiver Shelton Sampson Jr., who Kelly was asked about during the press conference.

Zavion Thomas was another receiver that was asked about because of his punt returning background, but Kelly iterated that it is his ability as a receiver first that jumps off the page.

Inheriting for the most part a lot of new names to the coaching staff, Brian Kelly has stated that the team has done a great job of setting the tone as this has been the closest of a player led team since he has arrived.

“I think the guys have done a good job. The offseason has been really good. The attention to detail, the accountability in terms of the offseason workouts has been outstanding. It has carried its way into the practices. When it is a player led football team, you are always going to be in a much better situation than the coaches leading it. This is the closest that I’ve had since I’ve been at LSU that is a player led football team.”

LSU head coach Brian Kelly on the players leading the way

When the players are already setting the tone and are taking accountability in the spring, it could be the start of something special in the fall.

We will have more in-depth LSU practice reports throughout the spring. The next LSU practice report will be on Thursday, March 21st.