BATON ROUGE, La. — LSU’s passing game continues to be an ongoing project.
During the team’s spring game Saturday, some of the nuances of the aerial attack were revealed as numerous short passes were called to a variety of wide receivers.
It should come as no surprise that those types of plays were utilized. Essentially, they’re an extension of the LSU running game, which has long been the team’s bread and butter.
More importantly, the emphasis on short passes opens up more lanes in the running game and a couple of other new wrinkles that the Tigers have yet to unveil.
“We got 5 (Derrius Guice), 7 (Leonard Fournette), (Darrel Williams), guys in the backfield that can make plays, but so do we in the receivers’ room,” junior wide receiver Malachi Dupre said Saturday after LSU’s spring game.
“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. 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.”
The installation of screens was a concept introduced by first-year wide receivers coach Dameyune Craig, who did the same thing during his time at both Florida State and Auburn.
The former Auburn quarterback just wrapped up his first spring at LSU on Les Miles’ staff, but he has already had a profound impact with the wide receivers and the overall passing game, given his background both behind center and working with his position group.
“I know Coach Craig comes from an offense with a lot of options with quick throws at Auburn, so coming in here, he has helped us out a lot with that,” Dupre said. “You see it today, and by the time the season gets here, we will be deadly in every aspect of the passing game.”
What lacked a bit Saturday was the deep passing game, with the exception of true freshman Dee Anderson corralling a 70-yard touchdown from backup quarterback Danny Etling at the start of the second quarter.
There has been an emphasis on improving that area of LSU’s passing game this spring, but it remains a work in progress.
Anderson and second-year wide receiver Tyron Johnson were both prominent components in that area on Saturday and should carry over those roles into the season.
“Dee is fresh out of high school, and he did a great job as the only receiver who scored,” said Dupre. “He’s got to continue to keep improving and getting better, and the sky is the limit for him. Ty improved tremendously since last year, and the sky is the limit for him, too.”
Johnson and Anderson, as well as fellow early enrollee Stephen Sullivan will all be major additions to LSU’s receiving corps, which on Saturday was comprised of Dupre, Jazz Ferguson and D.J. Chark. Travin Dural, who is out for the spring as he recovers from hamstring surgery, will also be a major role player.
Dupre is impressed with the progress the entire unit has made this spring under the tutelage of Craig. He expects the entire receiving corps to stay on that path leading into the summer and eventually the season as LSU prepares to make a leap as a passing team.
“The biggest thing I feel like in the springtime is maturing,” Dupre said. “I’ve matured a lot since the season ended. We need to work harder to keep growing and get better every day. The guys that came in early out of high school have matured a lot since they got here, and they had a lot to learn and did a wonderful job at that. They need to be ready to continue to work in the spring, the summer and get ready for the fall.”