Expect a no-frills LSU offense and defense at Saturday’s spring game

Sophomore Max Johnson, who ended the 2020 season as LSU's starting quarterback, will take the first team snaps to open Saturday's spring game in Tiger Stadium. PHOTO BY Brandon Gallego/LSU Athletics

It’s the simple things that will make LSU head coach Ed Orgeron happy in the spring game this weekend in Tiger Stadium.

Part of the reason is that the basics are all LSU knows at this point under new coordinators Jake Peetz (offense) and Daronte Jones (defense).

“When you have a new offense and a new defense, you like to put the basics in and the core,” Orgeron said at his weekly spring practice Zoom teleconference on Tuesday. “The core run plays, the core pass protection, the core routes, the core defenses with one or two defenses, one or two coverages, one or two blitzes, that’s what we’ve done all spring.”

Also, since the 5-5 Tigers of 2020 seemed to struggle mastering tried-and-true elements that win games, Orgeron will be focusing on the small details rather than the grand scale.

“I’m looking forward to the passing game and pass protection, the timing of our quarterbacks in the new offense,” Orgeron said. “I’m looking forward to our defense eliminating explosive plays, to run to the football and tackling. Just good basic fundamental football.”

Saturday’s game starts at noon and will be televised on the SEC Network. Orgeron said the White team will include the first-team offense and the second-team defense while the Purple team will be the second-team offense and the first-team defense.

As it was at the start of spring, sophomore Max Johnson will get the first quarterback snaps with the first-team offense and senior Myles Brennan will work initially with the second-team offense.

Both will likely flip later on with Brennan on first team and Johnson on the second as well as sophomore TJ Finley and true freshman Garrett Nussmeier working in the mix.

“They’re getting equal snaps, that (who takes the first snaps) is more of a status deal,” Orgeron said. “There is no starting quarterback. They are all competing and all four are very, very talented.

“You’re going to like Garrett Nussmeier, he’s very talented, he has to learn the offense. TJ has had a good spring.

“We’re just getting started. We’re putting in a new offense every day. You can’t judge those guys yet. We’ve got to get them enough reps to where they can get in game situations and then give them a chance to compete for the starting jobs.”

Orgeron said running backs John Emery (recovering from surgery), Josh Williams and Kevontre Bradford (both with undisclosed injuries) won’t play Saturday. Also not playing because of injury are defensive end Ali Gay and cornerback Eli Ricks.

“We’re very thin at running backs, most of our running backs are hurt,” Orgeron said. “I wish we could have a full scrimmage to where we had all our backs and we could crank it up pretty good.”

Here’s Orgeron on other subjects:

On what cornerbacks have played well

“I’m impressed with Dwight McGlothern. He’s tall, he’s 6-2, he has tremendous skills, he can change directions, he showed out a bit this spring. Derek Stingley has shown more leadership this spring, he’s matured. It’s hard to complete a ball on him in the red zone.”

On how competitive does he want the spring game to be

“We want to compete, this is another practice and we need it. That’s why we’re going first offense vs first defense, second offense vs. second defense. We’re going to rotate some players. We’re going to rotate some players. We’re not going to do a lot things to put on TV, obviously UCLA (LSU’s season opening opponent) is going to be watching, so we don’t want to give up anything.

“There may not be a lot of motions and shifts and nothing tricky. We don’t want to give that stuff away. We’re going to play base defense, we might play one front, one coverage the whole time. We’re not going to blitz at all.

“We do want to do enough things to let our players compete and have fun.”

On looking into the transfer portal for help

“Every day, we’re looking at the guys that are in the transfer portal, which guys can come in and help us immediately. What’s the need position? That need position changes day by day, according to injuries.

As long as my guys aren’t transferring and I gotta go find someone, I’m going to be happy. We’ve just got to finish the spring and see which positions we need the most help.”

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Ron Higgins

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