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3rd and Short: Three takeaways from LSU football’s 2023 spring game

From the quarterbacks to Harold Perkins, here are the three takeaways from LSU’s spring game.

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Quarterback Jayden Daniels throws a pass during the LSU Tigers Spring Game at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, LA. 

The game ended in a 32-32 tie as they were exciting highlights from both sides of the ball.

“Pleased with the outcome, first and foremost we got out of it clean, no injuries which is always important,” LSU head coach Brian Kelly said. “Then we had some guys step up and make plays.

Here are three things that stood out in the spring game.

Jayden Daniels and Garrett Nussmeier Achieved Expectations

Quarterbacks Jayden Daniels and Garrett Nussmeier balled out in the spring game as they combined for 307 passing yards and four touchdowns.

Daniels went 10-for-11 on the day with 168 passing yards and two touchdowns, with one of them being a 70-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Kyren Lacy. Daniels also ran the ball two times for 19 yards.

Daniels stretched the ball down the field with efficiency, something that Kelly and even the fans have harped on about what Daniels needs to improve on.

More importantly, Daniels established himself as the starter not only in the spring game but in the practices as well. Kelly has acknowledged his determination and leadership this spring.

“We think he is committed to being the best quarterback in the country,” Kelly said of Daniels. “We’ve seen that with his work ethic and he’s picked up where he left off, getting bigger and stronger, leading our offense, leading our team. He’s been a leader. Not only one of many quarterbacks in the SEC but one of the best quarterbacks in the country.”

Nussmeier looked impressive as well, completing five of his eight passes for 139 yards and two touchdowns. Nussmeier had a 70-yard touchdown pass to wide receiver Landon Ibieta and a 51-yard bomb to Brian Thomas Jr.

Although Nussmeier won’t be the starting quarterback next year, it is great to see his development as a quarterback. Nussmeier looked like he had better control of the offense as he showed better efficiency this spring compared to the previous two spring games. Kelly also noted that Nussmeier still was efficient even when he was with the second team.

For only the second time in the last 15 years, doesn’t have to worry about its quarterbacks because of Daniels and Nussmeier.

Kyren Lacy has that Dawg in Him

Although wide receivers Brian Thomas Jr., Landon Ibieta and Malik Nabers performed well in the spring game, Kyren Lacy was the wideout that stood out the most.

Lacy hauled in four receptions for 92 yards and one touchdown. Lacy’s biggest on his 70-yard touchdown. Lacy hauled in a pass with just one hand, broke a few tackles and dragged a defender into the end zone to complete the 70-yard TD connection.

“The work that Kyren [Lacy] is doing is much more about a consistent approach in practice. I think we are starting to see how that translates to his performance,” said Kelly. “At times he was trying to find himself relative to where he fit in on the team, but I think now he is comfortable in where he is in the rotation. His practice work ethic has been consistent and we can see it in terms of the way he is playing.”

Lacy, who has been one of LSU’s top performers this spring, will likely be on the first-team offense when preseason fall camp rolls around.

Defense shows promise despite its issues

Although the defense made common mistakes that usually happen during a live spring game, such as sloppy tackling by the secondary, this defense is primed to be one of the better defenses in the country.

“We saw some good things but it’s work in progress,” Kelly said after the game. “Just the consistency of doing it at a high level, we saw glimpses of it but we’re not there yet. We’ve got guys capable of playing at a high level but there’s work to be done.”

Even with star defensive lineman Maason Taylor and former 2023 five-star JACK linebacker Dashawn Womack sitting due to injury, the spring game showed the talent and depth of the front seven.

The front seven has a variety of playmakers who took advantage of some of the injuries and proved their worth this spring. Early enrollee freshman Jaxon Howard recorded four tackles and a sack. Defensive end Bradyn Swinson has awesome explosiveness off the edge, blowing up several plays including one sack.

Sophomore defensive end Quency Wiggins was also impressed. Wiggins recorded five tackles and a half of a sack.

Another defensive highlight came when linebacker Whit Weeks intercepted a pass from fellow freshman early enrollee quarterback Rickie Collins and returned it for a touchdown.

Harold Perkins, who is moving more to the inside this year, was put in the middle of the field and on the outside. It’s going to be exciting to see Perkins this year after his monster true freshman campaign where he racked up 72 tackles, 13 tackles for a loss and 7.5 sacks. Perkins also forced five total turnovers as he recorded four forced fumbles and one interception.