Max Johnson takes first team QB snaps on first day of LSU spring, but Coach O says it’s an open competition

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

All eyes were on LSU’s four quarterbacks – three which started games and one a true freshman – as the Tigers opened spring practice Tuesday afternoon.

And taking the first snaps was the same QB who took them at the end of last season.

LSU head coach Ed Orgeron said it was his decision to choose sophomore Max Johnson to start at the top of the depth chart.

“I know this – there’s one quarterback on campus who’s 2-0 and that’s him,” Orgeron said of Johnson

Orgeron indicated senior Myles Brennan, who won the starting job to begin last season and was 1-2 when he was sidelined for the rest of the year with an abdomen tear, was the second quarterback to take snaps behind Brennan

He was followed by sophomore TJ Finley, who was 2-3 last season starting games four through and then freshman signee Garrett Nussmeier.

“I’ve got to give it to Myles, he played good enough to win it (start the spring as the No. 1 QB),” Orgeron said. “TJ against South Carolina had a tremendous game. Garrett is very capable. He showed us he can scramble and make plays with his feet.

“There is no favorite here. I just thought Max won the last two games, so to keep the continuity led him take the first snaps. The competition is open and may the best man win.

“I’m gonna tell you this – during the fourth quarter (LSU winter conditioning) Myles graded elite three or four times.”

Last season, Brennan completed 79 of 131 passes for 1,112 yards with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions before getting hurt. Finley hit 80 of 140 passes for 941 yards with five TDs and five interceptions. Johnson completed 88 of 150 for 1,069 yards passing, eight TDs and one interception. He also ran for 119 yards and two TDs on 54 carries.

Orgeron also said Tuesday that sophomore cornerback Eli Ricks will miss most of the spring because of an undisclosed injury. Senior linebacker Micah Baskerville will miss the entire spring because of academics.

“This was one of the toughest first days (of spring practice) since I’ve been here,” said Orgeron, who is starting his fifth full season. “We didn’t have contact, but we got after it pretty good. We did a lot of pursuit and effort drills, offense and defense.”

Here’s what Orgeron had to say on various subjects:

On the defensive line

“The defense line had a good day. We weren’t in pads, but the inside guys had some penetration. Ali Gaye had a good day rushing the passes.”

On sophomore receiver Kayshon Boutte

“Kayshon Boutte had some great catches. Max (Johnson) hit him on a back shoulder route. Fantastic.”

On four new coaching staff additions in the last couple of weeks to form what appears to be a scouting department

“Austin Thomas came (hired as general manager in January) and I let him make those hires. Those are some guys he knew throughout his travels. He thought it was for the best for our program.”

On for the first time having two new coordinators (Jake Peetz on offense, Daronte Jones on defense) in the same season

“It’s good energy, it’s energy, they both want to prove themselves. These guys, this is their first time ever at LSU. They’re hungry. They’re here early in the morning. They’re here late at night. They’re doing a tremendous job preparing this football team. Both of them are very capable, both of them are bright coaches. Probably both of them will be head coaches one day. They are great leaders. They have great organization about themselves. And the players believe in them. They’ve both made tremendous connections with our players.”

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