LSU football quarterback performance after first spring training

BATON ROUGE — On the first day of LSU football’s spring workouts, the intensity was evident from the jump.

The players didn’t run, they ran. The coaches weren’t modest, they were fiery and loud. There was a strict rhythm and organization to the whole Thursday affair.

“I like intensity through repetition,” said new coach Brian Kelly. “I think that’s the best way to learn. … Look, everyone has really good players. I think it’s about preparation and that was, for me, a way of preparing our team. football for Saturday.”

The intensity only raised the stakes in many positional battles, especially at quarterback.

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The Tigers have four stock quarterbacks this spring. Sixth-year senior Myles Brennan has returned from the transfer gate. Elder Jayden Daniels transferred from Arizona State in February. Redshirt freshman Garrett Nussmeier and incoming freshman Walker Howard, both four-star recruits, are also competing for the job.

In the 20 minutes the media were allowed to view the practice, all four quarterbacks fully participated in the drills. This included Howard, who underwent surgery on the base of his thumb over the winter.

“We’ve prepped him, his arms are great. But he’s had this surgery on the fatty part of his thumb and our cadence is a hit,” Kelly said. “Well, he claps and he winces every time. We weren’t smart enough to think he should maybe use a verbal cadence.

“We made that change today. He was verbal after saying ‘Uh, coach, that really hurts.’ “

Once the team left the group, the quarterbacks — including Tavion Faulk, who took no reps but helped with drills — performed a no-group drill with two sets of offenses. Brennan and Nussmeier took the first batch of reps, while Howard and Daniels worked with the second.

All four quarterbacks threw an equal number of pitches, with most being check-downs and flat fastballs. But once this exercise was over, there was no time for hesitation. It was on the next activity with quarterbacks coach Joe Sloan.

Along with Sloan, the four performed various throwing drills to motionless assistants at 5-10 yards. The first drill was a simple quick pull back and release drill designed around the speed and precision of mechanics and the accuracy of quarterbacks. This was followed by a play-action/run-pass option activity and a dropback workout focusing on hip rotation and quickness.

All the while, Sloan was constantly giving instructions and making slight adjustments to his players. He was didactic and detail-oriented, yet firm in his delivery.

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“This[quarterbacks coach]position requires incredibly detailed communication because obviously they’re directing your offense, they’ve got the ball in their hands,” Kelly said.

Determining a favorite for the starting position or declaring a winner after 20 minutes of practice would be premature. During his spring training press conference Wednesday, Kelly said the starting position was open to one of four.

“My job is to create competition in every position,” Kelly said. “If you don’t like competition, this isn’t the place for you. I came here because I like competition. So it’s starting to get to me and it’s going to go through all the positions.”

Thursday was the first of 15 practices over the next five weeks, with the spring game not arriving until April 23. There is still a long way to go before a starter is named.

But if Thursday taught LSU fans anything, it’s that whoever wins the job will have earned it in a high-intensity, detail-oriented environment.

“It’s a continuation of what we’ve been doing since January,” Kelly said. “I loved the energy, the enthusiasm.”

Koki Riley is a recruiting and high school sports reporter for The Daily Advertiser and USA TODAY Sports South Region. Email him at kriley@theadvertiser.com.