The Competition at Quarterback is Legit
Count me among the many who believed LSU’s quarterback competition was mostly manufactured, that Myles Brennan would inevitably end up the starter under center in the fall and that Lowell Narcisse would be mixed in as a running option. Consider me among those whose minds were swayed somewhat by Saturday’s showing. I’d still say the smart money is on Brennan (11-of-21, 125 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT), but Narcisse (6-of-13, 205 yards, 1 TD) and Justin McMillan (13-of-27, 182 yards, 1 TD) each came up with scores in the first half. Both used their speed to avoid the oncoming rush and make nice throws. Narcisse benefitted from a nice Justin Jefferson grab to toss the first touchdown, while McMillan, who Ed Orgeron said had the best day of all the quarterbacks, engineered a pair of long drives before hitting Drake Davis with a lovely touchdown pass into the corner from 33 yards out. Brennan then threw an ugly interception in the second half, staring down his receiver before overthrowing him into the arms of safety John Battle. Narcisse and McMillan combined to lead the first six touchdown drives of the scrimmage. Brennan led the seventh with a nice touchdown pass to Jacory Washington. All that to say this: There’s nothing manufactured about this competition at all. It’s legitimate, and it remains open heading into the summer.
O’s Take: “If we’d have had a quarterback who was dominant all spring and was the clear leader, we’d name one. But we haven’t seen that. Tonight, under the lights, Justin played better than the other quarterbacks. That’s a fact. The quarterback competition is going to stay open. We’re going to have to find out who does the best in camp.”
Pressure’s No Problem
For Dave Aranda’s defense, that is. If replacing Arden Key as a pass rusher was priority number one for his unit this spring, Saturday was a good showing for the front seven. The best of the bunch was K’Lavon Chaisson, the former five-star edge rusher who looked every bit the part of a promising sack artist. He was consistently in the opposition backfield and would’ve had several sacks if allowed to actually tackle the LSU quarterbacks. Fortunately for their rear ends, he was not. He wasn’t alone, either: Travez Moore – whom Brennan comically ran into on one pressure, falling to the ground in a pile of bones – Rashard Lawrence, Tyler Shelvin, and Breiden Fehoko all made appearances in the faces of the Tigers’ signal callers, as did a host of blitzing linebackers. Even if it was poor offensive line play, there’s still little Aranda will be upset about regarding his defense’s ability to pressure.
O’s Take: “If we’d have allowed sacks, he’d have probably had five sacks. He was getting a lot of one on ones. He was in Arden’s shadow. He has matured. He was fired up. He turned it up game time tonight.” [On Chaisson]
Clyde Can Glide
How do you replace Derrius Guice, the three-year sensation out of Catholic High School in Baton Rouge now bound for the NFL? Perhaps with another Cur Dog. Clyde Edwards-Helaire showed why many think he can pick up where Guice left off with his performance on Saturday, mixing in some nice runs with some nice grabs in going for 74 yards on 14 carries. He added a nice second half score near the goalline, cutting against the grain to find paydirt among a host of defenders. Edwards-Helaire may not be the biggest back of the bunch, but he uses every bit of his 68 inches of height and 208 pounds of weight to push piles at the end of runs. He’s the shiftiest back LSU has, too, able to find creases and make the most of them. He may not be Guice or Leonard Fournette, but he’ll be plenty capable of leading the charge out of the Tiger backfield. Meanwhile, rookie Tae Provens (5 carries, 56 yards, 1 TD) showed his explosiveness with a 28-yard score.
O’s Take: “Clyde showed us that right now he’s our most explosive back. With Clyde in there we moved the football. He can make plays. He’s hard to tackle. The way he’s built and the leverage. He’s 5-9 going on 6-4. The guy has a great attitude about himself. He’s tough. I love the way he plays. He brings a spark to our offense when he plays.”
Finding an option opposite Greedy Williams at cornerback will extend into the summer. LSU’s corners, for so long the strength of its defenses, don’t possess the depth or talent of years past. LSU’s quarterbacks found plenty of success going at Jontre Kirklin, who allowed several of the Tigers’ long receptions. Kary Vincent worked most of the other reps at corner. Wide receiver convert Mannie Netherly had one nice pass break up early but gave up the touchdown to Davis later in the first half. Those three will battle incoming grad transfer Terrence Alexander from Stanford to take the mantle opposite Williams at DBU. The good news: Eric Monroe made some nice plays in the nickel, and he may hold that spot down this fall.
Orgeron came away “very encouraged” by the showing. “I wasn’t encouraged the first quarter. I was a little nervous. Things were going south fast. But they cam eback and they fought. I thought the second and third quarter was very good. It was indicative of the spring practices. Seesawing back and forth. The first quarter, the defense won. The second and third quarter, the offense came alive. That’s how the spring was.”