all impressions of the spring game must be taken with tweezers. while it’s always important to take a first look to see who’s taken the next step in their development or what a new offense or defense looks like, at the end of the day it’s a two-hour fight where the show is trying to be competitive. while at the same time not putting all his tricks into practice.
While it’s easy to get caught up on first viewing, there were some important learnings from the game and some positive trends that both sides of the ball can build on.
Reading: Lsu football spring game 2021
defense wins the day through plays, lack of explosive plays
Everyone wanted to see what this new defense with Daronte Jones would look like and it did not disappoint. the Tigers made a lot of plays, including five interceptions between the two teams along with eight “sacks” and 14 tackles for a loss.
but you can even put statistics aside for a moment. The real improvement came from player communication, an issue that led to multiple explosive plays per game throughout the 2020 season. It was easy to see from the start that communication was not lacking, particularly between supporting players.
ed orgeron told the media after the game that jones and cornerbacks coach corey raymond have done a fantastic job working together over the past few weeks and it shows in the way the back half of the defense has responded .
“we didn’t have eli ricks, he’s going to come in the corner. then we have some talented young safety, but i think daronte jones and corey raymond have done a tremendous job of playing with more zone coverage.” Orgeron said. “Knowing that we’re battered and beaten a little bit. we know we have to unplug some things, but I’ll tell you what, this daronte jones is a talented, talented football coach. i think our players have liked respecting him, but also wanting to play hard for him.”
That last part, that part about “always wanting to play hard with him” is something you just couldn’t say last season. It’s early days and there’s still an uphill climb, but if these miscommunications are clearly a sign of the past, then LSU should expect some level of defense improvement from him in 2021.
Anonymous players during the spring take an important step
We’ve heard about how Jay Ward has improved since moving to safety, how quarterbacks have been struggling, and linebacker Damone Clark’s growth in recent weeks. but as is the case with most first impressions, there are players who shine who come completely out of left field.
turns out a couple of fifth-year seniors, wide receiver jontre kirklin and linebacker jared small, were those two players. Kirklin was phenomenal in the slot as he posted catches for the white and purple teams all day, combining for 16 catches for 209 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
He showed glimpses of his potential game-changing speed during the 2020 season, most notably against Vanderbilt, but he never shone outside of that game. Sophomore Kayshon Boutte certainly took notice of Kirklin’s strong performance.
“Honestly, I think he fell asleep,” Boutte said. “I think him today he stepped up and showed he could be another wide receiver in the passing game that can make an impact.”
As for the little ones, the senior fifth-year field trip has never had an opportunity like it did on Saturday. But with Strong Navonteque, another spring camp favorite, being a late game scratcher, it was Small who opened the start alongside Clark and proved he’s a player worth moving forward.
recorded 14 tackles, 1.5 tackles for loss and an interception for the purple team, earning praise from orgeron and his teammates alike.
“it’s good to see you. to be honest with you, jared small has had a great spring and i haven’t mentioned it, but he’s going to play for us,” orgeron said. “He’s played very well and Jontre has had a good spring. He was limited by a few days that he was injured, but I’m very proud of those guys. Those guys are fifth-year seniors, with a lot of experience and they both had a good game. It was good see it, but that’s what we’ve been seeing every day in practice.”
Tigers offend true to their word
We heard all week that the offense wouldn’t be showing many of its tricks during the spring game and that was largely true. Both offenses had their moments where the rhythm between the players seemed a bit off, but the basic basics of what this offense will look like in the fall were put in place.
Returning to the offensive version of Joe Brady was a must for Orgeron, and the early signs of what Jake Peetz has brought to the offense were encouraging. moves with empty corridors and sets were just some of the variations on the scheme that were on display during the spring game.
While orgeron was happy with the performance overall, he admitted there is a lot to the tank that the tigers still plan to install and expand in the coming months.
“great job bringing joe brady’s offense back, look at the plays we made in 2019. do a good job of spreading the word about football and giving our players who are football athletes the space and allowing them to make plays” orgeron said. . “I think they’ve done a tremendous job on that. We’ve got work to do. I think when we consolidate replay between quarterbacks and get more quarterbacks, first- and second-team guys more reps, I think it’s going to look a lot better.”