BATON ROUGE, La. — Nothing is set in stone for the 2018 LSU Tigers with a week remaining in spring practice, but we are starting to see the proverbial cement getting poured into place.
Here are how things look at five key position battles as the Tigers go into their final week of spring practice:
In the early portion of the spring, Justin McMillan’s veteran presence gave him a legitimate shot against young guns Myles Brennan and Lowell Narcisse. Based on the recent returns, it looks like their talent has caught up and surpassed the experience in LSU’s last two spring scrimmages.
I’m starting to believe the most likely outcome is a two-quarterback system in the style of the 2006 Florida Gators, who primarily played Chris Leak but had multiple packages installed for then-freshman Tim Tebow. In this scenario, Brennan would play the Leak role while Narcisse reprises Tebow.
That could change if one quarterback is head and shoulders above the rest in August — especially if that quarterback is Narcisse. Should he win the job, there’s not really a need to give a set of packages to the dropback passer. He just becomes the backup.
Perhaps this is still Nick Brossette’s job in Week 1, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that Clyde Edwards-Helaire is on a trajectory to be this team’s feature back by the end of the season. The question coming into the spring was whether Edwards-Helaire was a third-down back or a three-down back, and it’s looking like the latter is the case.
This position is still a huge question mark as the Tigers replace their top two running backs for the first time since 2010. But it’s looking like Edwards-Helaire might be an answer the way Stevan Ridley was the last time LSU found itself in this position.
We weren’t necessarily expecting position battles on the offensive line, but we’ve got one.
Even though the Tigers return starting guards Ed Ingram and Garrett Brumfield, it’s becoming clear that it will be nearly impossible to keep junior college transfer Damien Lewis off the field. In that case, one of the incumbents would fall out of the lineup. It might be Brumfield, who coach Ed Orgeron noted is also getting snaps at center. Brumfield would potentially be LSU’s No. 3 guard and No. 2 center behind Lloyd Cushenberry, who graded out as the best offensive lineman in last week’s scrimmage.
Saahdiq Charles, who is injured, is likely to start at left tackle once he’s able to play again in August. That leaves a battle pending at right tackle that could feature Austin Deculus, Badara Traore, Adrian Magee and incoming freshman Cam Wire.
Jacob Phillips seems to be taking the bull by the horns as the guy who starts next to Devin White. Talent was never an issue for Phillips, but catching up to defensive coordinator Dave Aranda’s expectations was a challenge for most of his freshman season. Everything clicked leading up to the Citrus Bowl, and it is carrying over this spring.
The most surprising development this spring is that fellow sophomore Patrick Queen appears to be forcing his way onto the field despite being the backup to the All-American White. On Saturday, Orgeron revealed that Queen’s emergence might allow LSU to rest White in certain situations to make sure he’s fresh in crucial moments.
Don’t expect to know which player is starting across the field from Greedy Williams until the Tigers take the field against Miami on Sept. 2.
It’s likely that Stanford graduate transfer Terrence Alexander will be there, or at the nickel.
“He’s going to compete for a starting corner spot and the starting nickel spot,” Orgeron said Saturday in his first comments since Alexander signed with the Tigers earlier this week. “He has experience. He’s fast. Motivated. Mature. He’s going to have a chance to start.”