LSU is less than a week into its allowed walkthrough practices but coach Ed Orgeron is already jumping with joy because of what he's seen on the field.
The Tigers went through two a days over the weekend, something Orgeron said the team has never been allowed to do in the past during July and has learned a lot about his team. Even though it's just walkthrough practices, Orgeron said that he's come away very impressed by what the freshman class has been able to pick up to this point.
Orgeron mentioned a handful of freshmen that will compete for starting spots over the next few weeks including receiver Kayshon Boutte and defensive lineman Jaquelin Roy. Phillip Webb and BJ Ojulari are two freshmen edge rushers that Orgeron could definitely see in the rotation, whether it be in a rotational role or a starting spot.
"We've got some excellent players that are going to add depth to our team and some of them are going to start," Orgeron said on Off the Bench Tuesday morning. "Kayshon Boutte, him and Koy Moore are outstanding young receivers. Jaquelin Roy looks like an NFL player already, Jacobian Guillory is 337 pounds and it's just a very impressive group."
Orgeron also doubled down on his thoughts on the offensive line on Tuesday. Last week, the Tigers' head coach laid out his ideal starting lineup that included senior Liam Shanahan at center and junior Chasen Hines at right guard.
Now a few days into the walkthrough practices, the coaching staff has been able to see that lineup up close and personal. While the team will wait until the pads come on, Orgeron feels it could be the way the team leans this season.
"We've gotta find out if Liam can block that nose tackle, I think he can but we've gotta find out," Orgeron said. "I like to see Chasen at right guard, I think that's his more natural position but obviously if one of those guys can't go at center we know that Chasen can do it. I do believe that Liam, Joe [Evans] and Charles [Turner] can handle that center position and handle the physicality."
As for quarterback Myles Brennan, who will be asked to not only lead the offense on the field but be asked to be a vocal leader off it as well, has looked good in his first few days back on the practice field. Orgeron says he's commanding the huddle and has looked confident behind center, though it makes it a little more difficult because he's not actually throwing the ball.
The depth behind Brennan has been a little concerning throughout the offseason as freshmen Max Johnson and TJ Finley haven't had that normal first offseason to acclimate to the program.
"We have a ball but we're not throwing it, we're not going full speed so you can't grade accuracy," Orgeron said. "I'm really impressed with these two young quarterbacks. Max Johnson has a presence about him that when you walk out on the field you can tell he's a quarterback and TJ Finley has thrown the ball very, very well and lost some weight."
It's not just the players that Orgeron is getting a better feel for on the field but the new coaches he's hired this offseason as well. Defensive coordinator Bo Pelini and passing game coordinator Scott Linehan only got a handful of practices in the spring to get to know their players on the field.
Orgeron raved about the working chemistry between offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger and Linehan, saying the offense "hasn't missed a beat" while Pelini is also doing fine work with the defense.
"The work he [Linehan] does in the office, the preparation he does, him and Steve Ensminger are in there at 6 a.m. every morning and stay until 10 or 11 p.m.," Orgeron said. "They're tireless workers, true professionals. Obviously having Bo back, I've known Bo for a long time and he's done a tremendous job."
The schedule moving forward will be busy this week. The team will practice every day, capped off by a two a day practice on Friday. Orgeron said he wants his guys to be well rested by the time fall camp starts so the team will have off Saturday through next Wednesday.
For some teams, these walkthrough practices might just be a formality until the real camp kicks off on Aug. 7. But that's not how Orgeron and his coaching staff work.
"We take every practice, whether it's a walkthrough or not and we grade it, we grade every individual, we watch every individual," Orgeron said. "We talk about improving ongoing skill development so it takes a lot of eyes, it takes a lot of work."