Brian Kelly talks about key positional battles ahead of LSU football’s spring game

LSU football has almost finished its spring training with the spring game coming on Saturday. PHOTO BY: Jonathan Mailhes.

Brian Kelly and the LSU football team have almost wrapped up spring training with the spring game coming on Saturday.

The Tigers have completed 14 of 15 spring practices and Kelly is happy with the progress the team has made with a few positional battles still to be decided in the spring game. LSU has managed to avoid any injuries so far during the practices.

“Overall, I think we walk away here with a better understanding of our football team and the strengths and weakness and where we need to go in the offseason,” Kelly said.

Maybe the most intense positional battle heading into the spring game is for the No. 2 quarterback spot. Transfer quarterback AJ Swann and second year player Rickie Collins.

Collins was the No. 3 quarterback for LSU last season and got into one game for the Tigers. He came into LSU’s win over Grambling last season with a 63-10 lead. He led a short touchdown drive where he rushed for six yards and completed one pass for two yards.

Swann played two seasons at Vanderbilt where he threw for 2,731 yards and 22 touchdowns with nine interceptions. Swann and Collins have split second team reps throughout spring practice, and it seems like both quarterbacks are neck and neck in the race to be the backup.

“There’s a battle going on there now for that number two position,” Kelly said. “AJ and Rickie are battling that out right now. They’re going to play a lot on Saturday. That’s a pretty good battle right now.”

On the defensive side of the ball, the defensive tackle position remains an area of concern for the Tigers. Kelly has spoken about the position being an area of weakness multiple times this offseason and said it’s the only area he will be targeting in the transfer portal.

“I don’t see any other positions that we need to be in the transfer portal for other than the defensive tackle position really,” Kelly said.

During spring practice, Jalen Lee and Jacobian Guillory have been the starters at defensive tackle. Earlier this spring, Kelly said that Guillory “has been outstanding” in run defense. Kimo Makane’ole switched from offensive line to defensive tackle and has seen first team reps as well.

LSU has already added defensive tackle Gio Paez from Wisconsin and will continue look in the portal for me depth at the position.

Kelly said the most important part of the spring game is evaluating players that are “auditioning.” He also said established starters might not play as much as they try to get a better view of guys that are fighting for playing time.

Kelly mentioned Chris Hilton, CJ Daniels and Aaron Anderson as standouts at the wide receiver position. The battle for starting wide receiver positions is one of the most tightly contested because of how deep the receiver room is.

Kyren Lacy has established himself as the team’s No. 1 receiver and has made several standout plays at spring practices, but behind him there are multiple players fighting for a few spots. Hilton seems to be the favorite to land the No. 2 spot, which leaves serval players fighting for the No. 3 spot.

“I just like the depth of the wide receiver core,” Kelly said. “There’s probably seven guys that can contribute.”

Kelly said the format of this year’s spring game will be the same as the previous season’s.

“We’ll split it like we did last year where it’ll be an offense versus the defense and that kind of crazy scoring thing,” Kelly said. “It’s really not about the scoring as much as it is about giving certain players that are in key positions the opportunity to compete.”

Last year, the defense scored points by forcing a three-and-out, a turnover, a 4th down stop or a sack. An interception or fumble returned for a touchdown counted for the normal number of points. The offense was scored regularly.

LSU’s spring game will start at 1 p.m. and will be streamed on ESPN+.

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Will Nickel

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