Entering spring football, the hype machine for the LSU offense continues to build, and for a good reason. The Tigers return two quarterbacks capable of starting, a veteran running back room, and plenty of playmakers at the tight end and wide receiver positions. When you add that LSU will see continuity along the offensive line, it is easy to fall in line with many folks who feel that the Tigers’ could be a favorite to return to Atlanta.
But as spring football approaches and storylines start to emerge, one to keep an eye on is how quickly can this new-look Tigers’ defense gel. The Tigers brought in many new faces on the backend with four defensive back transfers, a linebacker, and five guys that can play align the defensive line or edge positions. That’s a lot of incoming talent, and the high-school signees haven’t even been mentioned. How this group comes together and creates a level of comfortability and reliance on one another will be critical.
The most significant factor aiding this is the job done by Brian Kelly and his staff in year one. It really can not go unnoticed by the foundation laid down by Kelly and his staff. To receive the buy-in and seeing the camaraderie formed between players and coaching staff lays the groundwork for this group of newcomers to have that same result. It will be imperative that they do so as quickly as possible to ensure success.
Josh Pate, the host of the Late Kick Podcast, touched on this subject in one of his more recent episodes regarding expectations for teams in the SEC West. Pate, along with others, is no doubt the work that needs to be done, but fans should tune their ears to hear something a little different than maybe they have come to expect.
“Here’s what you don’t want to hear. You don’t want to hear them saying hey we are set,” Pate said. “What it will sound like if LSU is on the right track is that they knocked it out of the park with these defensive transfers and we aren’t where we want to be yet, but we have around thirty more practices to get these guys ready.”
What Pate is alluding to is that fans should feel more comfortable if LSU leaves spring practice knowing they made the right decision on which guys to bring in. The play will take care of itself if the chemistry and the bond between teammates is built quickly. It’s okay to have things to work on; LSU wants that. But to know you made the right choice should allow fans to sleep better.
Everyone knows the name Harold Perkins now. Teams will be specifically game-planning for number forty and account for him wherever he lines up on the field. The Tigers will benefit from having arguably two of the top interior defensive lineman in the country in Mekhi Wingo and Maason Smith, but to succeed in this conference, teams have to have multiple stars and waves of reinforcements. Transfers like Bradyn Swinson, Jordan Jefferson, and Ovie Oghoufo will be tasked with providing quality depth and snaps along the front seven. On the back end, the Tigers must find a combination of talent that fits together as they welcome players such as Zy Alexander, Denver Harris, Duce Chestnut and JK Johnson. How will those players gel with the current defensive backs on the roster such as Major Burns or Greg Brooks Jr.
This team has the potential to be unique and build upon what was a successful year under Kelly. However, if LSU wants to its goals of getting back to Atlanta and even more, the groundwork for success has to be laid down during spring practices.