3 things I liked about LSU’s spring game
There were caveats in place in case either side of the ball was unimpressive during LSU’s spring game Saturday.
Head coach Ed Orgeron made it clear earlier in the week that observers shouldn’t expect to see much of new passing game coordinator Joe Brady’s schemes.
The new RPO stuff was going to stay behind closed doors, probably until the second game of the season at Texas. Sure there was going to be a hint of what the revamped offense would look like, but nothing that was going to help early-season opponents get a head-start on preparations.
So if the offense, the passing game in particular, didn’t look explosive, or even sharp, well that could be chalked up to sensible limitations placed on it by the coaches.
As for the defense, the absence of a handful of key players who are working their way back from injury and/or surgery meant that the starting unit that took the field in Tiger Stadium on Saturday afternoon was merely a shell of the one likely to take the same field for the Aug. 31 opener against Georgia Southern.
So any defensive shortcomings could be attributed to coordinator Dave Aranda being handcuffed by the absence of several of his key components.
But despite the limitations that could have handcuffed both units, the Tigers put on a pretty good show.
No one knows what, if anything, it will mean next season, but here are 3 things I liked about LSU’s spring game:
1. Myles Brennan is taking care of business
The redshirt sophomore quarterback has had to bide his time for two seasons and his patience is likely to be tested against this season as Joe Burrow finishes up his eligibility.
But Saturday, Brennan looked like a guy who’s still competing to be the starter even if it’s unlikely he can unseat Burrow.
He could have left the program like Lowell Narcisse and Justin McMillan, but instead he chose to stay and continue preparing himself to be the Tigers’ starting quarterback, even if that means waiting until 2020, which it probably will.
But Brennan was comfortable and sharp Saturday and if he looked like a guy who’s capable of generating enough passing productivity to keep the offense afloat if he should be called upon to spell Burrow at some point next season.
After an impressive first half with the second-team offense, Brennan was at the controls of both offenses to start the second half.
He finished 12-of-17 for 168 yards while Burrow was 15-of-25 for 159 yards with one touchdown and one interception.
2. The first-team defense overcame absences
The No. 1 defense, despite missing injured players such as Rashard Lawrence, K’Lavon Chaisson, Jacob Phillips and Kristian Fulton, performed very well, especially in the pass rush.
Freshman tackle Siaki “Apu” Ika had his way with the second-team offensive line, getting 2 sacks and generally being disruptive in the backfield. He’s penciled on the second team, but he showed Saturday that he’s capable of pushing for significant playing time and perhaps even a starting position.
The offensive line is still a work in progress, especially on the second unit, do the defensive line’s success should be taken with a grain of salt. Nonetheless the productivity of Ika and others was encouraging and with the wealth of talent that will be returning for preseason camp, the first-team defense could be outstanding.
3. Derek Stingley Jr. lived up to expectations
He has been the most talked-about newcomer since he took part in Fiesta Bowl practices as an early enrollee, so the potential was there for a letdown if he didn’t do something outstanding.
Not to worry. He made a very nice interception of Burrow in the end zone, showed excellent coverage throughout the day and generally looked the part of the next marquee member of DBU.
— Brooks Kubena (@BKubena) April 6, 2019
He didn’t get much of a chance to show what he can do as a punt returner, but he’ll have plenty of chances to do that going forward.