The various LSU football position battles will be something to keep an eye on as Spring ball continues for the Tigers. The National L Club Spring Game is set for April 17 at Tiger Stadium. While there are still a few weeks until the final scrimmage, the Tigers are in full force on the practice field.
After a 5-5 finish to the 2020 season, LSU must rebound in 2021 and get back to national prominence. The team dealt with numerous injuries and a new system on defense under Bo Pelini. That never worked out and now the team has new coordinators on both sides.
Entering the Spring, the biggest question surrounding the program has been the quarterback battle. The Tigers retain all three starters from last season. Myles Brennan, TJ Finley and Max Johnson are all back to battle it out. However, newcomer Garrett Nussmeier could be in the running for a spot as well.
After Brennan suffered an abdominal injury against Missouri, Finley stepped into the spotlight. While he had ups and downs, the freshman played solid. Then, Johnson started the final two games, which resulted in two wins to finish at 5-5.
Other positional battles will be intriguing, especially on the defensive side. At linebacker, the Tigers have to replace Jabril Cox, the former grad transfer from North Dakota State. A few names come to mind for that battle, but we’ll get into that in a bit. Defensive line will be another spot to keep an eye on as the Tigers have a multitude of talent up front.
How will it all play out leading up to the spring game on April 17? Let’s take a look at what lies ahead for the Tigers in the weeks ahead.
LSU Football Spring Battles To Watch: Offense
The question at quarterback is an obvious one. But the coaching staff really has three options with this. Starting with Brennan, the rising junior played well in his three games before suffering a season-ending abdominal injury. In those three starts, the signal-caller passed for 1,112 yards on 79-of-131 completions with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions. The consensus thought late last season was that had Brennan not got hurt, LSU could have won more games. While that could be true, he is back to claim his starting spot and will be fully healthy entering 2021.
Now to Max Johnson. The rising sophomore started the final two games against Florida and Ole Miss. In both of those games, the Tigers came out victorious. For the 2020 season, Johnson finished with 1,069 passing yards on 88-of-150 completions with eight touchdowns and one interception. He is the favorite to be the second string backup. But, he started spring practice as the one taking first-team reps. That could be an interesting note moving forward.
Finally, TJ Finley put forth a solid season as a freshman. While he did have his not so great moments, Finley performed well enough to be in consideration entering the spring. He finished 80-of-140 passing for 941 yards and five touchdowns with five interceptions. Finley’s touchdown to interception ratio wasn’t great by any means. However, he has the mentorship ahead of him to bounce back from those numbers.
This position battle could be a key one for the Tigers. After former five star recruit Arik Gilbert announced his decision to transfer, the Tigers had to look elsewhere at the position. Insert former Tigers baseball player Nick Storz. He didn’t record a catch last season, mainly due to the late arrival to the football program. But he provided the team with depth at the position. Kole Taylor recorded six catches for 36 yards and played a key part in the win over Florida.
Entering the spring, the tight end position will become one of the under-rated position battles.
Defense Battles To Watch
LSU’s defense ability in 2020 was great, but the leadership wasn’t. That resulted in the program parting ways with Bo Pelini. As 2021 nears, new defensive coordinator Daronte Jones will look to turn things around, and rather quickly. There are a number of roles up for grabs on this side.
The Tigers saw the departure of Jabril Cox, who was a grad transfer. He finished last season with 58 total tackles, one sack, five passes defensed and three interceptions. His immediate replacement would likely be Damone Clark or Micah Baskerville. Both players have experience playing the position and have matured into their respective roles. It’s still early in the spring, but this position will be one to keep an eye on.
While the defensive line is made up of numerous individual positions, looking at it from a team perspective is more insightful. Last season, the Tigers defensive line was as strong as it’s ever been. Ali Gaye quickly gained stock and had a breakout season. Neil Farrell Jr. was a dominating force for opponents. Joseph Evans, and Jaquelin Roy earned playing time as highly touted freshman.
This LSU team is returning 19 of 22 starters. Every starting defensive lineman fom 2020 is back. That could set up for an exciting position battle across the line.
The LSU Football spring battles will give the coaching staff and fan base a better idea of which players are going to contribute heavily in 2021. Now that the 2020 season is over, it’s time for LSU Football to begin preparations for a tough 2021 schedule. The season kicks off September 4 at UCLA. For now, the Tigers are focusing on getting better and giving little insight into the new offense in the spring game.