Myles Brennan, Max Johnson Shine as White Beats Purple in 2021 LSU Spring Game

Mike Chiari@mikechiariFeatured ColumnistApril 17, 2021

LSU quarterback Myles Brennan (15) passes in the second half an NCAA college football game against Mississippi State in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. Mississippi State won 44-34. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)
Gerald Herbert/Associated Press

The White team defeated the Purple team 23-14 in the LSU spring game at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, on Saturday.

While many of Saturday's highlights occurred on the defensive side of the ball, with interceptions against quarterbacks T.J. Finley and Garrett Nussmeier, the play of quarterbacks Myles Brennan and Max Johnson turned heads as well.

Brennan and Johnson are locked in a battle to earn the Tigers' starting quarterback job in 2021, and they both made strong cases for why they should be considered Saturday.

Brennan and Johnson represented the White team in the first half and the Purple team in the second half. All told, Brennan went 12-of-20 for 116 yards and one touchdown, and Johnson completed 11 of his 17 attempts for 180 yards and two scores.

After beginning 2020 as the starter and playing well, Brennan was lost for the remainder of the season with an abdominal injury and was eventually replaced by Johnson. He showed no ill effects from that ailment in the spring game, however.

After the White team opened the scoring with three field goals in the first half, Brennan finally accounted for the first touchdown of the game when he hit Kayshon Boutte with a 39-yard strike late in the second quarter.

The long touchdown came off some trickery from Brennan, as he executed a fake spike before completing the pass:

LSU Football @LSUfootball

The Throw. The Catch. Touchdown. The 39-yard bomb from @MylesBrennan ➡️ @KayshonB15 to extend the lead! 📺 SECN+ https://t.co/nQPHT79WiU

That play capped off a fantastic first half for Boutte, who was clearly the favorite target for both Brennan and Johnson early in the game.

Boutte finished with an impressive 11 receptions for 162 yards and one touchdown, but his numbers would have been even better if not for a long touchdown catch from Johnson getting called back because of an illegal block in the first quarter:

Jeff Nowak @Jeff_Nowak

Max Johnson and Kayshon Boutte have picked up right where they left off. This is basically a shot-for-shot remake of the record-breaker in the Ole Miss win last season. Called back for an illegal block, but that’s not what matters today for #LSU. https://t.co/zd7i9fQdGj

Even so, Boutte accounted for nearly all of the passing yards accrued by the White team in the first half, per TigerBait.com's Preston Guy:

Preston Guy @PGuy_77

BREAKING: Kayshon Boutte is good at football. Beautiful throw and catch from Brennan to Boutte for a 39 yard TD. White team has 166 yards passing. Boutte has 131 of those yards. 😳 #LSU

Boutte also showed a great deal of competitive spirit, as evidenced by a first-half play that saw him wrestle a ball away from No. 1 cornerback Derek Stingley Jr.:

Brody Miller @BrodyAMiller

Kayshon Boutte and Derek Stingley just wrestled for a tight ball from Myles Brennan, like actually wrestling for the ball on the ground. WR 1 vs. CB 1, Orgeron rules Boutte caught it.

Aside from the Brennan touchdown pass and the Johnson touchdown pass that was called back, most of the other big plays that occurred in the first half came on defense.

That included an interception of Finley by corner Raydarious Jones:

LSU Football @LSUfootball

Raydarious Jones said not today ✌️😎✌️ 📺 SECN+ https://t.co/poxzwJVuJW

The Purple defense also carried out an impressive goal-line stand against Brennan and the White offense, otherwise the first-half score could have gotten even more out of hand:

Brooks Kubena @BKubena

LSU defense holds at the goal line after Myles Brennan's QB sneak: - A Soni Fonua forced fumble - A holding call - A short completion - An incomplete pass Preston Stafford makes a 27-yard field goal.

While the first half was all about Brennan, Boutte and the second-team defense, Johnson stepped up in the second half, and wide receiver Jontre Kirklin was the main beneficiary.

Johnson and Kirklin connected on two touchdowns in the second half, including this score from 22 yards out:

LSU Football @LSUfootball

All Aboard 🚂 @qbmjohnson2020 ➡️ @13nation__ for his second TD today 📺 SECN+ https://t.co/Y3wOcXVTq5

Kirklin played for both White and Purple throughout the game, and that was reflected in his stats, as he recorded 16 catches for 209 yards and two touchdowns.

Johnson had better numbers than Brennan on Saturday, but both quarterbacks played well.

Jeff Nowak of The Advocate expressed his belief that there could be a full-blown controversy moving forward:

Jeff Nowak @Jeff_Nowak

The Myles Brennan vs Max Johnson QB competition is going to be fascinating... because Myles Brennan is unquestionably legit. His start last year wasn't a mirage. But Max has the proven clutch gene. Even if Brennan wins easily in camp it'll get loud QUICK at the slightest hiccup.

The other quarterbacks in Saturday's game didn't fare so well, with Nussmeier throwing three interceptions and Finley getting picked twice, but they went out on a high note.

On the final play of the game, Nussmeier threw a touchdown pass to Koy Moore to secure the win for the White team.

Head coach Ed Orgeron undoubtedly saw some good things from players on both sides of the ball, which is a good sign that the Tigers will be able to bounce back from a 5-5 season in 2020 after going undefeated and winning the national title in 2019.