LSU’s spring football season was as much about not losing players as it was about finding players.

Spring football generally reveals newcomers who can have an immediate impact as well as seldom-used veterans who are poised to handle expanded roles in the fall.

The Tigers got a glimpse of that as spring practice concluded Saturday, but second-year coach Brian Kelly was most pleased that the short-handed team didn’t lose any players.

“We wanted to stay healthy and look sharp,” Kelly said after LSU’s “spring game” Saturday afternoon in Tiger Stadium. “We did that today.”

Several key players, most notably running backs Josh Williams and Armoni Goodwin, center Charles Turner III and defensive tackle Maason Smith were held out of the spring as they recover from injuries last season.

Others, including linebacker Greg Penn and early-arriving freshman tight end Mac Markway, were held out Saturday. Kelly said both players had Grade 2 hamstring strains though Penn probably would have been healthy enough to play in a real game.

But there was no need to take any chances since the Tigers are more than 3 months from the start of preseason camp and even farther from the Sept. 3 season-opener against Florida State.

It was less than 16 months ago that the newly hired Kelly watched LSU lose in the Texas Bowl with fewer than 40 scholarship players available. He has a lot more Tigers to work with now, but LSU is still below the NCAA maximum of 85 scholarship players.

“The area of concern for us is depth,” Kelly said. “Two or three key injuries put us in a very difficult position. That’s not where you want to be (in the SEC).”

On Saturday, Kelly put the available players through situational work and a brief scrimmage.

The scrimmage, which featured 2 15-minute quarters in the first half, 2 10-minute quarters in the second half and running time, was structured in an offense-vs.-defense format with a scoring system that rewarded the defense for big plays.

For the record, the game ended in a 32-32 tie. Kelly said it was what he “hoped it would be.”

“We played good, fundamentally sound football,” he added.

The workout was hardly a gauge of what to expect from Kelly’s team this season, but it did allow individuals to show what they’re capable of doing.

On the first play of the scrimmage, Kyren Lacy made a one-handed catch and broke multiple tackles on a 70-yard touchdown from Jayden Daniels.

On the first play of the second half, freshman Landon Ibieta turned a short pass from Garrett Nussmeier into another 70-yard touchdown.

Kelly praised Daniels’ “work ethic” in the spring, saying “he’s committed to being the best quarterback in the country.”

Daniels completed 10-of-11 passes for 169 yards and Nussmeier completed 5-of-8 for 139 yards.

“The QBs were sharp,” Kelly said. “Defensively guys were making plays.”

Whit Weeks intercepted freshman Rickie Collins’ first pass and returned it 55 yards for a touchdown.

Nussmeier also threw a 7-yard touchdown pass to Brian Thomas, freshman running Trey Holly caught a 15-yard touchdown from Daniels and Damian Ramos kicked a 34-yard field goal on the final play to produce the tie.

Holly was the primary ball carrier, finishing with 26 yards on 8 attempts and he caught 2 passes for 21 yards. Kelly praised his exceptional vision, saying it’s something “you can’t teach.”

Speaking of running backs, Kelly said there is “a path back” to the team for John Emery Jr., who missed spring while focusing on academics.

“We love him,” Kelly said, “but we’re putting academics first and foremost.”

Kelly added that senior running back Noah Cain might be a player that “we’re sleeping on a little bit.”

Ramos also missed a 44-yard field goal, Nathan Dibert missed from 46 yards and Kelly said he hasn’t decided which will be the starter.

Jayden Daniels cover photo via Twitter @LSUfootball.