BATON ROUGE, La. — The LSU football team opens up fall camp Monday afternoon. And while the team won’t be in full pads yet and very little of the offense has been installed, it’s the first step toward the Sept. 2 season opener against BYU.
One of the most exciting parts of fall camp are the position battles. While some positions have been won without debate (see Guice, Derrius), most spots on the field are still up for grabs with a month left before the season begins.
Today, let’s take a look at three of LSU’s most premium battles, and what coach Ed Orgeron had to say about how the positions will shape up in the fall.
Obviously, the most notable battle heading into fall camp is the quarterback one. Back in the spring, the reps were divided pretty equally between incumbent starter Danny Etling and challengers Justin McMillan, Lindsey Scott Jr. and Lowell Narcisse. But now, LSU has added freshman Myles Brennan into that mix.
And Brennan is going to get his looks. Just ask Coach O.
“We have to get Myles Brennan some reps. We will have a lot more walkthroughs and what we call ‘two spots.’ Instead of having just one offense go against one defense we might have an offense versus defense here and an offense versus defense there. One day we may put the freshmen together and get them as many reps as we can just to simulate game-time situations and see how they perform.”
Orgeron singled out Etling and Brennan as the two players he’s most excited to see. With Brennan, it’s the element of surprise. This will be the first time Orgeron sees Brennan throw in an LSU uniform, so the expectations high.
Etling is recovering from an offseason back surgery and Orgeron hasn’t seen him throw since the procedure was done. Reports from players say that Etling is feeling 100 percent. But until Orgeron sees it with his eyes, he won’t know for certain.
As LSU’s only returning player who caught more than 10 passes in 2016, D.J. Chark has a starting wide receiver job locked down.
But beyond Chark, the wide receiving corps is a wild west. Orgeron threw out seven names as potential options behind Chark, most memorably throwing some extra motivation Drake Davis’ way.
“Russell Gage had a tremendous spring. Drake Davis needs to come along. He had some great days in the spring, but he needs to be more mature and consistent. Derick Dillon has got to come in and play for us. Stephen Sullivan had a great spring. Dee Anderson needs to mature. He has a lot of athletic ability he just needs the maturity doing things on a daily basis and I believe he will do that. I am so excited about Racey McMath. He’s big, strong, physical and has a great work ethic. All I’ve done is see him run and he looks fantastic. Mannie Netherly has been with us. We do so many shifts and motions that all of them will have to play. We’ll need a fantastic rotation there.”
Anderson, Gage and Davis combined to catch 10 passes a year ago. Dillon and Sullivan didn’t catch any passes last season and McMath and Netherly are both freshmen.
After losing Tre’Davious White and Dwayne Thomas to graduation, the LSU football team isn’t as deep at cornerback as it’s accustomed to being. Donte Jackson is returning as a starter with high expectations for his junior season. And the expectations are just as high on former 5-star Kevin Toliver.
But after those guys? LSU doesn’t have much experience at corner. But Orgeron isn’t concerned. What the unit lacks in experience, it makes up for in youthful talent.
“I feel that we have two great corners in Kary Vincent Jr. and Jontre Kirklin. They haven’t done much yet, but I think they’ll be really good. Greedy [Andraez] Williams did a tremendous job. You’ve got Donte Jackson and Kevin Toliver and backing them up with Greedy Williams, Jontre Kirklin and Kary Vincent I wouldn’t trade away anybody. I think they’re very, very good. Kristian Fulton will be a nickel back and he could be a corner.
“One of the first things we talked about in the staff meeting is coaching the nickel position. Xavier Lewis can play it Kristian Fulton can play it. Donte Jackson can play it if we want to move him from corner. He’d probably be the best one there. I think Kary Vincent Jr. will be fantastic there. I think those are some guys right now at nickel that we’re looking at very hard.”
Only time will tell how these battles shake out. But for now, LSU has more than enough options to keep fall practice just as interesting as the season itself.