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BATON ROUGE, La. – LSU football coach Brian Kelly caught himself sort of telling reporters what to write at a press conference Thursday going into his team’s spring game Saturday (2 p.m., SEC Network+).
“I think we go into this with the first unit should be looking like a first unit, top offense in the country,” he said. Kelly does return one of the top returning starting quarterbacks in the Southeastern Conference in senior Jayden Daniels.
“You should go into the spring game going, ‘Ah-hah, that looks pretty good,'” he said. “And then, defensively, the ideal situation would be, ‘The guys that they took out of the portal are going to be really good additions.'”
Brian Kelly: ‘I’d Feel Good If You Guys Would Write That’
Key portal additions on defense were cornerbacks Denver Harris from Texas A&M, Duce Chestnut from Syracuse and JK Johnson from Ohio State, linebacker Omar Speights from Oregon State, and five linemen.
“So, if we walk away from these two observations, I would feel good if you guys would write that stuff,” he said. After a pause, he added with emphasis, “If that’s what you end up writing. You write whatever you want, obviously, I know that. But if that’s what you write about, that would be good.”
Why, thanks, boss, or journalism professor, we appreciate it!
Now, how’s your accent developing? Just kidding.
Tigers May Be Popular High Pick Next Season
LSU will likely be a top 15 or top 10 team in the preseason rankings. The Tigers should also be picked among the top two in the West and top four or five overall at the SEC Media Days in July. Kelly does know his football and his team. He did reverse a severely slipping program that went from 15-0 national champions in 2019 to 5-5 and 6-7 the next two years. In his first season in 2022, Kelly led the Tigers to an upset of Alabama and to the SEC West title at 10-4 and 6-2. He left an historically successful tenure at Notre Dame.
LSU Heisman Winner Joe Burrow To Return
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow, who won the Heisman Tropy while at LSU in the 2019 season, will be at the spring game.
“He’s going to help us in recruiting,” Kelly deadpanned. “He’s a pretty good recruiter. He recruits quarterbacks really well, too.”
Like Burrow, Daniels will be in his second season at LSU after a transfer. Burrow came from Ohio State after graduating in 2018 – Daniels from Arizona State in 2022.
An improved offensive line should help Daniels. Star defensive tackle Maeson Smith is expected to be as good as ever by August after missing all but the first series of the opener last year with a torn anterior cruciate ligament. He will not play Saturday after missing most of spring practice.
Special teams, which killed LSU at times last year, may be improved with the removal of special teams coordinator Brian Polian. He is now in an off-field roster management role.
Jayden Daniels One Of Top Returning QBs In SEC
Daniels is the No. 2 returning SEC quarterback based on passing efficiency. He finished 39th in the nation at 144.5 on 266-of-388 passing for 2,913 yards and 17 touchdowns with just three interceptions. Arkansas’ KJ Jefferson is the SEC’s top returning quarterback as he finished No. 7 in efficiency at 165.2 (204-310-5, 2,618 yards, 24 TDs). Mississippi State’s Will Rogers finished No. 9 in passing yards at 3,974 (259-427-8, 35 TDs).
A dual threat like Burrow, Daniels was the No. 1 rushing quarterback in the country in 2022 with 885 yards on 186 rushes and 11 touchdowns. He has put on about 15 pounds since last year.
“He’s over 210 pounds. He’s thicker. He’s stronger,” Kelly said. “This is much more about veteran presence now than acclimating to a new program. There’s just a different presence to him.”
And Don’t Forget Garrett Nussmeier
Sophomore backup Garrett Nussmeier has worked with the first team often during spring drills.
“He’s really good. He’s had a great spring,” Kelly said. “When he’s with that first group, he’s excelled. We have two really good quarterbacks.”