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Tigers Head Coach Brian Kelly during the LSU Tigers Spring Game at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, LA.

2023 Preseason: Four things to pay attention to throughout LSU’s fall camp

With LSU’s fall camp starting on Thursday, here are four things to keep an eye on.

In arguably one of the most anticipated seasons since 2019, LSU will kick off fall practice on Thursday, Aug. 3.

After finishing 10-4 in 2022 with an SEC West title and a thrilling overtime victory over Alabama, a lot of people around the SEC and college football as a whole believe that LSU is a legit playoff contender.

There are two reasons for this: the Tigers return most of their offense from the last year and they filled up their positions through stringent recruiting as well as the transfer portal. It also helps that LSU has the winningest active coach in college football right now, Brian Kelly.

With LSU’s football season officially kicking off tomorrow, here are some things to look out for during fall camp.

How Much Will Nuss Be Involved?

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 02 Cheez-It Citrus Bowl
LSU Tigers quarterback Garrett Nussmeier throws a pass during the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl between the LSU Tigers and the Purdue Boilermakers on January 2, 2023 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fl.
Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

When starting QB Jayden Daniels decided to come back for one more year to have another shot at a playoff berth and bump his draft stock, everyone was worried that Garrett Nussmeier was going to enter the transfer portal. Nussmeier is extremely talented, which is why Kelly threw the kitchen sink to make sure he stayed at LSU.

However, how much will Nussmeier be involved? You could assume that he will take second-team reps. However, because of his talent and the fact that he is the heir to the throne, will he take a lot of first-team reps? I think this may be the case because if something happens to Daniels, having a guy like Nussmeier ready to go is key on the bench who knows the offense and has chemistry with the first-string group will be key.

There is no such thing as too many DBs

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: JAN 02 Cheez-It Citrus Bowl
LSU Tigers safety Greg Brooks Jr. during the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl between the LSU Tigers and the Purdue Boilermakers on January 2, 2023 at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Fl.
Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

For the first time in a few seasons, LSU’s defensive backfield now has the depth to compete for an SEC Championship, if not a national title.

LSU lost a lot of experience in its defensive backfield despite retaining Greg Brooks, Sage Ryan and Major Burns. Although LSU lost some veterans on its defense from last year, the school known as DBU had no issues finding players to fill the void left behind.

LSU landed former five-star Denver Harris (Texas A&M), former two-time FCS All-American Zy Alexander (Southeastern Louisiana), former Freshman All-American and two-time All-ACC selection Duce Chestnut (Syracuse), JK Johnson (Ohio State) and a very talented safety in Andre Sam (Marshall) through the transfer portal. They also picked up highly touted four-star DB Javien Toviano in its 2023 signing class.

Although having lots of depth doesn’t hurt, the only problem is that there are only a few sports. It will be very interesting to see what the depth chart looks like on a week-to-week basis leading up until the first game in Orlando.

Will John Emery Ever Come Back?

Alabama v LSU
John Emery Jr. rushes for a touchdown against the Alabama Crimson Tide during a game at Tiger Stadium on November 05, 2022 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

If you would have told me a few years ago that RB John Emery would stay at LSU for five years while battling eligibility issues going into his final year of eligibility, I would have told you to get a brain scan.

Emery, the former five-star who was the No.1 RB in the 2019 recruiting cycle, is once again dealing with eligibility issues regarding his academics. He has dealt with both inconsistency and academic issues his whole time at LSU. All though he has shown flashes of how great he can be, he has been one of the most disappointing prospects that LSU has ever signed in recent times.

Everyone is hoping that Emery turns it around in his final year wearing the purple and gold as his time at LSU has been a disappointment. However, the issue with Emery isn’t so much what he does on the field, it’s a matter of what he does off the field. If he doesn’t figure out his off-the-field issues, EMery will be another “what-if”.

Who Wins the Kicking Battle?

LSU Tigers place kicker Damian Ramos (34) watches his PAT sail through the uprights as LSU Tigers punter Jay Bramblett (19) holds during the football game between the LSU Tigers and Texas A&M Aggies at Kyle Field on November 26, 2022 in College Station, Texas.
Photo by Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Usually, the conversation surrounding fall camp is about how the quarterback battle is unfolding. However, in LSU’s case, there is a kicker battle happening instead.

Although Damian Ramos is the incumbent, he had to battle fellow sophomore Nathan Dibert for the job. For a unit that had to deal with mishaps game in and game out last, neither kicker separated themselves from the other in the spring game, which is making the state of Louisiana very nervous. Kelly said leaving the spring that there is competition at that position going into the fall. LSU desperately needs that battle to produce an unfazed kicker, because just like last year, there will be games where it will come down to the performance of the special teams.