LSU Spring Game 2021: Top Storylines and Prospects to Watch

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistApril 16, 2021

LSU Spring Game 2021: Top Storylines and Prospects to Watch

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    Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

    The LSU Tigers should aim to reach the SEC Championship Game every season.

    To achieve that goal in 2021, the Tigers need to make the right decision at quarterback. Saturday's Spring Game could help shape that race going into the fall. 

    LSU has four candidates for the starting job, and head coach Ed Orgeron is expected to give some reps to each member of the quartet Saturday. 

    The starting quarterback job will not be decided by the end of the weekend since the Spring Game is an exhibition, but it could give the coaches an idea of which player has made the most progression. 

    Defensively, Derek Stingley Jr., who is one of the best defenders in the nation, will be the main draw, but there is one newcomer who could steal the show inside Tiger Stadium. 

Top Storylines

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    L.G. Patterson/Associated Press

    Who Gains Advantage in Quarterback Battle? 

    Saturday's game will not determine the winner of the quarterback competition, but it could at least give the coaching staff an idea of who has progressed the most in spring practice. 

    The Spring Game is an exhibition with no pass-rushers allowed to tackle the quarterbacks, and there is a less detailed offense in place. 

    Senior Myles Brennan, sophomores Max Johnson and TJ Finley and freshman Garrett Nussmeier will do their best to impress in the action they get. 

    Orgeron made a blunt assessment of his quarterback situation earlier this week when he said "there is no starting quarterback," per The Advocate's Brooks Kubena

    Brennan, Johnson and Finley played a similar amount of snaps in 2020. Each player threw at least 130 passes. Brennan finished with the most touchdowns and passing yards despite attempting the fewest amount of passes. 

    The experience earned by Brennan, Johnson and Finley leads you to believe one of the three will start the season opener against the UCLA Bruins, but if Nussmeier impresses enough, he could earn the inside track for the job in the fall. 

    With injuries plaguing the running back room, LSU will likely throw the ball a good amount on Saturday, which will give the coaching staff a look at how each player controls the offense. 

           

    Which Defensive Backs Shine In Eli Ricks' Absence? 

    The top two spots on LSU's cornerback depth chart should be locked down by Stingley and Eli Ricks. 

    With Ricks out for Saturday, a handful of other players have a chance to make their mark on the LSU defense. 

    Orgeron told reporters that he has been impressed with Dwight McGlothern, per 247Sports' Billy Embody

    "I'm impressed with Dwight McGlothern," Orgeron said. "I think the guy's done a tremendous job. He's tall. He's 6-2. He has tremendous skills. He can change direction. He showed out a little bit this spring."

    Even if McGlothern settles in behind Stingley and Ricks on the depth chart, he could be an important piece on the LSU defense with so many talented wide receivers strewn across the SEC West. 

    Look for Cordale Flott and Jay Ward to be the other standouts alongside Stingley and McGlothern. Ward may be under a bit more attention since he shifted from corner to safety. 

    If LSU has a deep secondary unit, it should feel much better about its chances to navigate what is arguably the toughest division in college football. 

Navonteque Strong, LB

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    Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

    Navonteque Strong may be the most buzzworthy newcomer entering Saturday.

    The top-rated junior college linebacker committed to LSU over the Mississippi State Bulldogs, and he could be an X-factor on a crowded depth chart. 

    Strong and Mike Jones, a transfer from Clemson, will compete with Damone Clark and Micah Baskerville for playing time. 

    Strong is an intriguing player to watch because he starred in the junior college ranks and has the potential to be a heavy hitter in the middle of defense. 

    Strong's linebacker coach at Mississippi Gulf Coast Community College, Dr. Brett Shufelt, described what type of player LSU was getting back in December when he talked to The Athletic's Brody Miller

    “Very, very smart on the field,” Shufelt said. “He would do things that I didn’t call. He would make plays and people would be like, ‘Shu, that was a great call.’ I’d be like, ‘Yeah, it was, wasn’t it?’”

    If Strong makes a seamless transition from junior college to the SEC, he could be in the discussion as the conference's top newcomer. 

    For now, Strong has to focus on making a good first impression in game action and then hopefully turn that into a strong fall. 

Kayshon Boutte, WR

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    Matthew Hinton/Associated Press

    Kayshon Boutte showed during his freshman season that he could be the next top wide receiver prospect to come out of LSU. 

    Boutte led the Tigers in receiving yards and was second to Terrace Marshall Jr. in receptions and touchdown catches. 

    With Marshall and JaMarr Chase, who did not play in 2020, off to the NFL, Boutte will have more attention on him going into the 2021 campaign. 

    Boutte's one year of experience and chemistry with three of the four quarterbacks could help him stand out on Saturday. Whoever lands the starting job in the fall will send a large number of targets in Boutte's direction.

    Boutte's play will also be intriguing because the Spring Game marks the first time we will see how he looks in the system of new offensive coordinator Jake Peetz.

    The Tigers will not run a fully installed offense on Saturday, but there should be glimpses of how Boutte will be utilized as the top target, whether it be on the outside, the slot or even in the backfield. 

           

    Statistics obtained from ESPN.com.

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