Scooter Hobbs column: Intangibles will make or break LSU
Published 9:00 am Wednesday, August 3, 2022
A few thoughts before LSU reports today for August football camp, with the first workout on Thursday, which will be the clear signal for the overanalyzing to commence apace, and the corresponding overreactions following as quickly and haphazardly as a pack of playful puppies:
LSU seems to have more question marks than usual this season, not unusual for a team with a new head coach in Brian Kelly.
There are a lot of boxes that must be checked before the season opens on Sept. 4 against Florida State in the Superdome.
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It’s the usual laundry list, of course, with a quarterback duel likely to attract the most attention.
Hogging of the spotlight, however, is not to be confused with what the biggest question mark will be.
But I’ll play along. My early favorite at quarterback is veteran’s veteran Myles Brennan, who, when he first arrived at LSU, seemingly backed up Bert Jones. Or maybe it was Y.A. Tittle.
One of those guys.
But if they can keep Brennan away from slippery fishing docks until the season starts, it makes sense that he reclaims the starting job that he originally won but lost to a freakish non-fishing injury in 2020.
Just a hunch.
He’s pretty much a football dinosaur, too, a pure passer in this RPO era, but the strength of LSU’s team will be the wide receivers, and they’ll want the best and most reliable arm delivering the goods to the whole flock of them.
So an almost totally new staff may spend all of August finding something to keep dual-threat transfer Jayden Daniels occupied that doesn’t look too suspiciously like a dual-quarterback system (Kelly doesn’t even like to utter the words “two-quarterback system”).
But, regardless, the quarterback room is solid. Even if redshirt freshmen Garrett Nussmeier or early enrollee freshman Walker Howard should win the job, you’ll know they’ve earned it for a reason.
So regardless of who it is, there’s enough talent there that LSU should be fine under center.
There’s a big difference between a bona fide (troubling) question mark and a spirited competition to play itself out.
The biggest real question mark, and stop me if you’ve heard this a time or two in recent years, is the offensive line.
The second biggest question mark, and I bet you never thought you’d hear me say this about DBU, is the secondary.
As long as we’re taking roll here, the strength of the defense is easily the defensive line, which should compare favorably to any in the land.
But none of that is really Job One this August.
The top priority, which started in the spring or even before, is for Kelly to get LSU’s culture, the locker room atmosphere, shaped up.
Yes, the Tigers have lost a lot of players in recent years. But LSU will always have a lot of talent — and does this year, even if some of it hasn’t been identified yet or at least been given a proper introduction to the fan base.
The key to this season, or any other, is getting the most out of that talent. The key to that is the team culture, the locker room atmosphere, morale and purpose, if you will.
Somehow it got away from the Tigers after the 2019 national championship. Or maybe Joe Burrow took it with him.
It can be a fleeting critter for sure, and you’d think the way the NCAA transfer portal brings a whole influx of new teammates that the upheaval could complicate creating that vital chemistry.
Kelly is well aware of it. It will be his way, for better or worse, of putting his own stamp on his program. He even has personal catch word for what he wants from the program: Accountability.
With a capital “A.”
It’s a tough cookie to judge in practice. You sure won’t find evidence of it studying stats from Tiger vs. Tiger scrimmages (a totally useless August ritual for fans).
But it will be as, or more important, than any position battle you want to try to keep up this August.
Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org