by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
After spending a few days within Brian Kelly's LSU, I can tell you this:
Everything operationally seems to be laid out, meticulous, prepared, and then when you least expect it, Kelly himself is candid at the podium, offering details we didn't see coming.
Talking about his relationship with Kayshon Boutte was striking, as well as detailing a second surgery for LSU's starting receiver, heaping extraordinary praise upon Jack Bech, saying John Emery Jr is "meeting and then exceeding the line of where we want him to be", Kelly was more than candid....being there provided another bewitching, bizarre, funny aspect to it all.
It is worth noting: when I discussed Kelly's views with Kayshon's father Em Boutte, Em had no issue with Kelly's comments whatsoever.
Then, Kelly also gave us full injury information, that we know of, saying all scholarship players are participating, outside of the recovering Boutte & Major Burns, though Garrett Dellinger is battling back alongside the team.
Today, LSU media were barred from the first segments of practice, kept behind the Tigers' fence barricade with strict "no posting until end of practice" rules...
After an eternity, Tigers' media kingpin Michael Bonnette finally allowed us through the gates, a cavalcade of media members following us as we led the pack into LSU's training grounds. The team were assembled before us, running out together as one heaping mass of white, purple and red-colored humanity.....Kelly's Tigers...you could feel a new era had just begun at LSU...
Quarterbacks were clad in red jerseys, ditching LSU's tradition of yellow for QBs in the past, while defensive players wore purple and offensive players wore white.
LSU's QBs Coach Joe Sloan caught my ears and eyes, issuing some hot-mouthed intensity at sophomore QB Garrett Nussmeier and freshman QB Walker Howard, flying around the practice field with energy as he jumped towards Myles Brennan to defend the veteran QB on a passing drill.
At times Sloan was frothing at the mouth out there.....demanding nonstop energy from his quarterbacks unit.
New transfer QB Jayden Daniels seems to be settling in still, though he did get out and move on the edge and throw some nice passes, everything is still lacking full speed.....which is why his play selection / personnel grouping seemed to point at that when leading his reps down the field.
Myles looked crisp, throwing nice passes and looking legitimately hulky in his pads, thicker than he's ever been....and while he's received much taunting and mockery on social media due to his weight, Brennan could possibly chisel the weight fully by end of summer, still. He snapped the ball, dropped and released with quickness and a rhythm....all in all, this is just a spring practice.
Nussmeier had a nice bounce to his reps, at times, though there were a few disjointed collective plays from his unit. He received the third fewest reps.
Despite feeling pain in his thumb & palm area (to the point he still can't clap, according to Brian Kelly), Walker Howard threw the ball well, putting purpose, touch and precision to his passes, while his footwork will begin to develop fully in time. You have to love seeing the freshman out there, slinging it around, however the fact that he's wearing #14 didn't seem right to my eyes.
At receiver, we were able to see up close how thickly built Jaray Jenkins is for 2022, he looks in better shape than he's ever been...x10........if Jaray is that fired up for his final season at LSU, I cannot wait to see what #10 has in store for LSU on the field.
Jack Bech is more robust than last season, but he's still remained at a nice, compact receiver build, all while becoming stronger and more physically imposing at the same time...his speed or quickness hasn't diminished. He was not featured on the inside, usually on the outside of a tight end, usually Kole Taylor or Jack Mashburn, #82 Mashburn catching a pass during one rep and Kole Taylor catching a bootleg screen from Jayden Daniels on another.
Chris Hilton Jr caught a few nice passes right before our eyes, looking healthy, fit and firing well upon his return from injury last season, his legs catching a nice flow and rhythm in stride.
At running back, I was impressed with John Emery's burst out of the backfield, his readiness between the tackles, he had a few good catches out in the flat, though we always knew Emery Jr could catch the football well....it was just a good thing to see the former Destrehan superstar wearing purple & gold for the first time since summer 2021.
While I could see some flashes of defensive activity in the distance, LSU's media involvement was limited to purely the Tigers' offensive side of the field, yet I was able to take some fantastic shots of Jamar Cain's defensive line in action from across the field, which of course are being uploaded on the site.
If you haven't checked out our film piece already, you absolutely must...with tons of photos & the entire media-allowed portion filmed in its entirety, from multiple points of view and up close angles.
You could see Hankton keeping his receivers regimented as well, all as Brian Kelly ushered his way from one part of the offensive squad to the other, quarterbacks, running backs, receivers and tight ends working separately; you could see Kelly listening to trusted staffers such as Will Redmond about the goings-on......
LSU Odyssey then recorded exclusive footage of Kelly instituting a huddle with his offense, lighting a fire under his players, although remaining measured in tone; the team appear to be buying in, sprinting away to their assignments without a wasted movement.
After the practice, waiting for Kelly's press conference among LSU's media disciples, I heard one analyst after another comment about how "I haven't seen a practice this intense since Saban" or "this is the first time I've actually seen players being taught in the 5 years I've been here"....it was remarkable to hear from such long time beat reporters.
There's a definite change in the air at LSU football.....one I welcome fully.
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
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