SEC Country is examining each LSU position group following the Tigers’ spring as we await the start of fall camp.
Friday’s breakdown features LSU’s 2016 collection of wide receivers.
You should already know: Malachi Dupre, Travin Dural
Also keep in mind: Jazz Ferguson, D.J. Chark, Tyron Johnson, Stephen Sullivan, Dee Anderson
Analysis: LSU’s wide receiving corps received a bit of a makeover this offseason, as John Diarse and Trey Quinn elected to transfer.
Their absence has left holes — and created opportunities — for members of a strong 2016 signing class and some breakout candidates lower on the depth chart.
Of course, leading receivers Malachi Dupre and Travin Dural are both back in the fold, which gives the Tigers a strong veteran presence as the offense tries to emphasize more of an aerial attack under first-year wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig.
Aside from the incumbents, Jazz Ferguson and D.J. Chark saw expanded roles this spring with Dural, who sat the spring as he recovers from hamstring surgery. As did Tyron Johnson, who was one of the nation’s elite wide receivers in the Class of 2015.
The new-look crew has elevated expectations for the receiving game.
“All those guys, from Malachi all the way down to our freshmen, have all done a good job this spring,” LSU quarterback Brandon Harris told SEC Country this spring. “Those two guys, along with Jazz Ferguson, everywhere you look it’s tall guys, real long, rangy guys. I have a big margin of error and they make some freakish catches. I can put it anywhere in their facility and they can catch it.”
Craig has helped install more spread principles in the LSU offense, a process that began last December in the Tigers’ romping of Texas Tech in the Texas Bowl.
Shorter passes and screens are now staples in the offense, and LSU enjoyed success with that new wrinkle during the spring game last month.
Eventually, the offense should be balanced, which should put the Tigers in a position to make great strides this upcoming season.
“We hit short passes, little dinks here and there, and that takes some pressure off of the runs we might make and lets our deep game open up also,” Dupre told SEC Country after the spring game. “If we make quick throws, 10 to 15 yards in the game, the yards-after-catch takes care of the pressure in the running game and deep balls also. It makes our offense that much better.”
Key question: Can this collection of wide receivers help Harris take the next step in 2016? Without question, LSU has a wealth of talent spread out wide. The task is helping the quarterback become more confident and capable of making big plays in the passing game, including stretching the field. Dupre and Dural should be integral to Harris’ success as possession receivers, while Johnson and newcomer Dee Anderson could help with the vertical passing game. Ferguson and Chark should thrive in multiple-receiver sets as LSU attempts to exaggerate the short-passing game.
Bottom line: If LSU’s passing game is to evolve, then the wide receivers are going to play a huge part in this. Dural and Dupre are veterans capable of making plays, and should have added opportunities thanks to highly touted receivers such as Johnson, Anderson, Stephen Sullivan and Drake Davis.