Well, it took me about another 24 hours to give the game a look, but I was finally able to watch LSU’s 2018 spring game and cobble together a few thoughts.
Overall, this was a very spring-gamey spring game. Some things to like. Some things to be concerned about. Not really an abundance of either. So in the end, much like I said in the first place, a nice blank canvas for most fans to project their issues, anger, optimism, what have you.
Anybody with some particularly strong or strident opinion on this game either A) has no idea what they even watched, or B) just repeating what they were thinking about coming in to the game itself.
Some early thoughts:
- Foster Moreau definitely had a not-so-happy voicemail from his momma when she saw him flash the double-birds pre-game.
- The design of the offense was, mostly, what I expected to see. Pro-style in terms of formations, but with an emphasis on spreading the field. Some RPOs and tempo mixed in. A couple things stood out in terms of the schematics:
- Ensminger moved the tight ends around a lot — in line, flexed on the wing, in the slot and split out wide. It’s a useful tactic to both create physical mismatches, and also force the defense to expose itself a little bit in terms of how it reacts to the formation. Either they split out a linebacker and show that they’re in man-to-man, or cover the tight end with a corner and show that it’s zone. And things trickle down from there.
- As expected, there’s a big emphasis on wide/tight zone runs with bootlegs off that action, and creating some quick, easy throws on first down. That’s a good way to both get a quarterback in rhythm quickly, and also hide them a bit. Easy first-down passes that pick up a few yards can keep the offense in standard-down situations where the offense can keep run/pass unpredictability on its side.
- First play of the game was a basic inside zone/stick RPO — Justin McMillan missed the pass to Jonathan Giles — but both the purple and white teams came back to it a few times with all three quarterbacks. There was also what looked like a bubble RPO out of the I-formation, in which the flanker motioned from the string side to the weak slot. If he’s uncovered, the quarterback pulls and throws a quick bubble while the line/backs execute the called run.
- Far as the quarterbacks go, I think it goes back to what I said about the overall product — they all had their good moments and bad ones, but I don’t think anybody really stood out. The competition will almost certainly extend into the regular season, and we’ll see who asserts themselves and takes control of the job.
- Some thin-slicing impressions: Myles Brennan clearly has the best overall arm of the group, but seems to be the streakiest in terms of accuracy, both in terms of ball placement but also in terms of speed (i.e., he really puts a lot on his short throws, too much at times). Lowell Narcisse has a nice deep ball, but seems to be a little unsure of himself on the shorter throws. Hesitant at times. McMillan kind of bridges the gap between the two in terms of style, but I’m not sure he runs or passes well enough consistently.
- I can say that I’ve heard similar reports to the broadcast commentators regarding McMillan’s leadership and popularity in the locker room from several sources. How that translates to this fall? We’ll just have to wait and see.
- Yes, it’s true that McMillan’s units had the best success early on, but again...spring game. Once the quarterbacks warmed up, they all kept things moving a bit. Curious thing I noticed on McMillan’s first successful drive — he turned the wrong way on two straight play-fakes. Both completions though. Spring game.
- Overall, I see a passing game, and an offense, that looks like it needs fine tuning. I.E. the rest of the offseason and training camp. Dropped passes, blown assignments, etc... The type of things that stall drives in the red zone.
- Nice hard running by Clyde Edwards-Helaire. For a smaller back he has really nice balance and leg drive. Curious to see how that translates to the regular season.
- Justin Jefferson seemed to back up some of the hype he’s gotten this spring with his 94-yard touchdown. Although, at minimum, Narcisse would have been walloped in the endzone in getting the pass off, if not sacked outright for the safety. Nice job of taking off and pulling away from the defense to take off, and then a nice cut to get to the goal line.
- Jefferson should also go back to number 32, because numbers like that for receivers are awesome.
- Speaking of pressure, with K’Lavon Chaisson had a field day with some of the backup tackles in the game. And even with Badara Traore at times. Imagine he’ll move to right tackle when Saahdiq Charles comes back from injury.
- Speaking of injury, it does appear that Grant Delpit will have surgery today on the injury he suffered in the second quarter. Ross Dellenger is reporting that it’s just a broken collarbone, so one would think he’ll be 100-percent by training camp.
- As expected, LSU’s front seven looks very impressive — two players that stood out in small doses Saturday included Glenn Logan at nose tackle and Neil Farrell at defensive end. Both did a nice job of stacking and shedding blockers in the hole. Tyler Shelvin also showed impressive burst in a few snaps, but until his conditioning improves those snaps will be few and far between when Ed Alexander returns.