What I liked — and didn't like — from LSU football in spring game | Toppmeyer

Blake Toppmeyer

Given the amount of talent LSU returns, the Tigers have the potential to be one of the SEC's most improved football teams in 2021. 

LSU displayed some of that progress, especially on defense, during its spring game on Saturday. 

Here's my final assessment:

What I liked: So much of the chatter coming out of this spring game will focus on the quarterbacks, but the performance of LSU’s defense grabbed my attention.

LSU’s first-string defense had an advantage over the first-team offense for much of the day. The defensive line was disruptive, and the secondary looked improved. Dwight McGlothern stood out as a physical cornerback who uses his length well. Jared Small piled up 14 tackles and intercepted a pass to lead the defensive effort.

LSU’s defense was woeful last season, so Saturday’s solid showing is a good sign.

Overall, the defense supplied five interceptions, with three coming from the first team.

Myles Brennan established himself as the favorite for the starting quarterback job, even if Ed Orgeron isn’t ready to name him as such. Each of LSU’s four quarterbacks had a turn operating the first-string offense, and Brennan did the most with that opportunity.

Max Johnson was the second-best option.

Kayshon Boutte flashed star ability as the top receiver. Jontre Kirklin took advantage of playing with both squads to compile 16 receptions, as he looks to cement himself as LSU’s secondary option.

What I didn’t like: There was a lot of chatter during the televised broadcast about how Orgeron hired offensive coordinator Jake Peetz to try to emulate the offense that Joe Brady helped orchestrate during LSU’s 2019 national championship season. Just one problem: This team doesn’t have Joe Burrow at the controls.

LSU’s offensive success came in fits and spurts. TJ Finley and true freshman Garrett Nussmeier struggled, combining for five interceptions, leaving Brennan and Johnson as the top quarterbacks exiting the spring. Much of Johnson’s success came against the second-string defense. He formed a steady connection with Kirklin.

ANALYSIS:Trio of LSU QBs throw for over 100 yards each as White beats Purple in spring game, 23-14

RECREATING THE PAST:Spring game proves LSU football remains hell-bent on returning Joe Brady offense

RECRUITING:LSU lands commitment from nation's top tight end Jake Johnson, brother of QB Max Johnson

Brennan looked decent – he completed 12 of 20 passes for 116 yards with no major miscues – but didn't dazzle. The offensive line didn’t establish a dominance, either.

Quotable: “I think the secondary is the most improved part of the team.” – Ed Orgeron

Game ball: Dwight McGlothern. The sophomore had four pass breakups and four tackles. He more than held his own while filling in for Eli Ricks, who was out with an injury.

Lingering question: Who’s the quarterback? LSU’s defense looks like it’s ready to take a step forward, but what about the offense? Brennan appears to be the best option. If he can regain the form he showed in 2020 before suffering an abdomen injury, LSU should be much improved.

Blake Toppmeyer is an SEC Columnist for the USA TODAY Network. Email him at BToppmeyer@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter @btoppmeyer. If you enjoy Blake’s coverage, consider a digital subscription that will allow you access to all of it.