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Opinion: LSU Spring Practice & Offensive Opportunites & Challenges

LSU football’s spring practices begin Thursday as coach Brian Kelly tries to build on the Tigers’ 10-win campaign in 2022.

To preview the next two months of practices, here are five questions surrounding LSU’s offense heading into the spring.

Can Garrett Nussmeier challenge Jayden Daniels for the starting job?

He could, but the starting quarterback job is still Jayden Daniels’ to lose.

Garrett Nussmeier played an impressive half of football in the SEC Championship Game and split reps with Daniels in the Citrus Bowl. But Daniels likely would have transferred or headed to the NFL if he thought Nussmeier could easily snatch his job.

Nussmeier’s time to shine will likely be in 2024, especially following Walker Howard’s departure. The bigger question remains whether Kelly can prevent him from transferring before the start of next season.

Who will step up on the offensive line behind the starting five?

LSU is in better shape than most on the offensive line. The Tigers brought back five of their top six offensive linemen this offseason, and the only major contributor who left was Anthony Bradford.

But if any of them suffer injuries, LSU doesn’t have much depth to replace them.

The Tigers lost four veteran offensive linemen to the transfer portal this offseason. They reloaded with highly-touted freshmen signees like Zalance Heard, Tyree Adams and DJ Chester, but LSU’s only veteran options projected to return are Bo Bordelon and Marlon Martinez.

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However, reinforcements may be on the way. Maryland transfer Mason Lunsford took an official visit with LSU this past weekend.

Following Malik Nabers’ arrest and Aaron Anderson’s injury, where does LSU’s wide receiver room stand?

Alabama transfer Aaron Anderson’s injury and Malik Nabers’ recent arrest place LSU’s wideouts room in an awkward spot entering this month.

If both sit out most, if not all, of the spring, it will be fascinating to see who will step up in their absences. Between returners Chris Hilton, Brian Thomas Jr., and Kyren Lacy and freshmen signees Shelton Sampson Jr., Kyle Parker, Jalen Brown and Khai Prean, LSU still has a lot of depth.

Sampson and Brown, in particular, could shine – Sampson with his size and Brown with his speed – if allowed extra reps this spring.

How much more will LSU’s tight ends be involved in the offense?

With only one reliable pass-catching tight end, LSU mostly stuck to 11 personnel (three wide receivers, one running back and one tight end) sets last season. But after adding four-star signees Ka’Morreun Pimpton and Mac Markway and three-star signee Jackson McGohan over the winter, LSU can get much more creative with its tight ends now.

For that reason, it would be surprising if offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock didn’t lean into more than 12 personnel (two wide receivers, two tight ends, and one running back) this year, especially given how he and Kelly value the position and the versatile skill sets he has within the room.

Who will make the biggest leap of improvement?

Daniels should take the cake.

The improvements he made and the comfort he developed within Denbrock’s offense were tremendous last season. And with Denbrock back along with Nabers, Thomas, Lacy and almost his entire offensive line, Daniels – the center of LSU’s offense as its quarterback – should be the greatest beneficiary of that continuity.