Brian Kelly addresses LSU's quarterback room for spring season

On3 imageby:Matthew Brune03/14/23

MatthewBrune_

LSU began 2023 spring practices in a very different spot than it was in last year. The entire on-field coaching staff was back for its second year with Brian Kelly at the helm, while the returning players now knew what to expect as practices began on Thursday morning.

There was one difference, though: This year, there is very little chatter around the quarterback room. In 2022, the room had Garrett Nussmeier, Myles Brennan, Walker Howard, and newly added Jayden Daniels. Eventually, Brennan chose to retire before 2022 fall camp, then Howard entered the portal after the 2022 season.

Now, LSU is down two Nussmeier and Daniels, but also added four-star quarterback Rickie Collins in the 2023 class. The Howard departure was major news when it happened, but with the success of Daniels and Nussmeier, there’s excitement that the Tigers could have the best quarterback tandem in the SEC.

“You’re ready for everything,” Brian Kelly said of Howard transferring. “You want to do a great job with retention but sometimes it’s out of your hands.”

After riding the bench for most of his redshirt freshman season, Nussmeier broke onto the scene during the final two games of the year, torching Georgia in the SEC Championship Game, and showing more quality quarterback play in the bowl game against Purdue.

The past two months have been about making sure Nussmeier is physically right for the fall, but he’s closing in on getting back to 100 percent for the spring. 

“Garrett was out there today even after he’s had some corrective surgery,” Kelly said. “He was out there throwing the football and he’ll be another week or so before he’s full go on everything. He’s excited. Collins got a lot of work today. We have three quarterbacks that will get a lot of work during the spring, so I think we’re in a pretty good place.”

With Daniels as the incumbent and Nussmeier as the incredibly talented No. 2, there’s not a lot of drama for the position at the moment. Perhaps in the fall, Nussmeier makes a push or Daniels doesn’t take the necessary steps forward for this offense to become more explosive, but early on in spring, there’s not a lot of drama like last year. That’s probably a good thing.

The wide-eyed freshman

While the two veterans push one another, it’s freshman Rickie Collins that has the most work to do this spring. After early enrolling, the Baton Rouge native has gotten straight to work, hoping to absorb as much as he can over the coming months, gaining a head start before his freshman season.

“As a quarterback you benefit greatly just by coming in and learning the system,” Kelly said. “There’s so much to learn even just looking to the sideline and picking up signals. It’s foreign to many; some of the signaling takes a while. Just getting that down. Then getting coached and hearing a different voice is equally as important as you transition into a new system. Joe Sloan is a great coach, but it’s a different voice. Then, it’s putting it together in a faster environment. You have to make quicker decisions, so from a quarterback standpoint, mid-year enrollment covers everything from the intellectual development to the physical development in the weight room, to the mental development and dealing with the ups and downs of college life as someone who should still be in high school, so that’s really important.”

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