5 observations from LSU spring game, including QBs and passing game
LSU’s ongoing search for a more explosive passing game might have come to an end.
Of course we won’t know for sure until the 2018 season gets under way, but the Tigers showed big-play ability in their passing game during Saturday’s spring game.
It seems every year LSU focuses on upgrading its passing game only to find itself once again leaning primarily on the running game and defense because of an inconsistent air attack.
This year it’s the implementation of new coordinator Steve Ensminger’s multiple attack and the presence of talented quarterbacks competing for the starting position that suggest the Tigers could be more balanced offensively.
In the spring game LSU had passing touchdowns of 94 and 33 yards and another 63-yard gainer that figure to have the passing game generating the most buzz during the dog days of summer and into preseason camp.
But the passing game isn’t the only thing the spring game gave LSU observers to chew on during the coming months.
Here are five observations from the Tigers’ spring game:
The quarterback competition will continue
Despite the big plays in the passing game — or perhaps because of the key players in them — the battle to succeed Danny Etling as the starting quarterback will remain competitive into preseason camp.
Myles Brennan remains the man to beat as the most experienced of the three competitors, even though he has very limited experience himself. But players talked all spring about how impressive Justin McMillan (above) has been, and Lowell Narcisse has done nothing to remove himself from the competition.
Coach Ed Orgeron said afterward that McMillan is playing with more confidence than the other two and it’s showing in his performance.
On Saturday, Narcisse had the 94-yard touchdown (to Justin Jefferson) and the 63-yard gainer (to Derrick Dillon), McMillen tossed the 33-yard touchdown (to Drake Davis) and Brennan’s lone score was a 5-yarder to JaCory Washington.
“The quarterback competition is going to stay open,” Orgeron said.
Wide receivers worth watching
The wide receivers look like they will be among the most competitive position groups in preseason camp.
The unit features mostly newcomers and unproven players, though Jonathan Giles, a transfer from Texas Tech, is expected to be the No. 1 receiver.
Jefferson has opened a lot of eyes during the spring and he provided the first significant highlight Saturday when he snared a short pass with one hand, cut back and made several defenders miss on his way to the 94-yard touchdown. Narcisse threw the pass, though he probably would have been sacked if defenders had been allowed to hit the quarterbacks.
Dee Anderson was the other starter when the Tigers opened in a three-receiver set.
But the receiving group had several drops just as they did in the scrimmage a week earlier.
Pass rush should be fine
Arden Key has left for the NFL, but it looks like the Tigers will still be able to rush the quarterback.
Linebacker K’Lavon Chaisson provided the most pressure Saturday and coordinator Dave Aranda’s blitzes brought pressure from a variety of angles, though defenders weren’t allowed to tackle the quarterbacks, making a thorough evaluation of the pass rush a little tricky.
Another wild card in the pass rush equation is the presence of a rebuilt offensive line that likely will feature three new starters in the fall.
How much of the pressure was a defensive positive and how much of it was an offensive negative. It was presumably a bit of both and the offensive line and the pass rush will both warrant close scrutiny in preseason camp.
Secondary is a bigger question mark than usual
LSU likes to call itself DBU because of its annual success in developing NFL-quality defensive backs, but this year’s group has a lot to prove. The depth at cornerback and safety is uncertain.
One starting position that figures to be very competitive in preseason camp is the cornerback spot opposite sophomore Greedy Williams. Jontre Kirklin, Kary Vincent and Mannie Netherly, a converted wide receiver, all had mixed performances Saturday.
The competition won’t get into full swing until true freshman Kelvin Joseph and graduate transfer Terrence Alexander (Stanford) join the mix in the summer.
At safety, Grant Delpit left the game Saturday with a shoulder injury, the extent of which was not immediately known.
Edwards-Helaire stands out
The Tigers will enter next season without a proven running back for the first time in a long time, but that doesn’t mean it won’t have a productive running back.
Sophomore Clyde Edwards-Helaire had a big spring game a week after having a standout performance in a scrimmage.
He is the favorite to replace Derrius Guice as the starting running back, though Nick Brossette also has more but still limited experience. Edwards-Helaire, Brossette and Lanard Fournette each had a touchdown as did true freshman Tae Provens.
— Reggie Chatman (@ReggieChatman) April 22, 2018
Provens, who enrolled early, and fellow recruit Chris Curry, who will come on board in June — will be factors in preseason camp.