LSU's win over Central Michigan could possibly best be described as a breakout game for multiple LSU freshmen receivers. The Tigers were carried throughout the night on big plays made by the 2021 class of offensive weapons.
Jack Bech, Deion Smith, Brian Thomas and Malik Nabers all made impacts at varying degrees but showed the promise this group has with Max Johnson under center and is being protected.
Starting with receiver turned tight end Bech, who set the tone early and became a critical target for quarterback Max Johnson on third down and scramble plays, the freshman hybrid was tremendous all evening, bringing in five passes for 81 yards and a touchdown.
He's been one of the more reliable receivers on the team in the first three weeks and should be a major part of the gameplan moving forward.
"He is going to catch the ball, he’s going to give some fire. He can go deep and he can catch the short passes," Orgeron said of Bech. "He’s also blocking in there. He’s a tremendous player, but he is not the only one. We have about eight fantastic receivers, and they need to play."
Bech started hanging out with Johnson right after he committed and told reporters on Saturday that he quickly built that connection on the field during the summer. While Bech was a counselor at some of the LSU recruiting camps this summer, the duo became even closer with Max's brother Jake also being a tight end in the upcoming 2022 class.
"Me and Max, we've been close since I committed," Bech said. "We have a really good chemistry and connection right now. We've just worked really hard on it all summer. We've put in a lot of time but it feels good to be one of those guys to help the team win."
Smith was spectacular as a vertical threat for the purple and gold, hauling in five catches for 135 yards and two touchdowns, both of which came off of spectatcular route running and agility that's hard to find in other 6-foot-2 receivers.
He missed most of the spring with an injury but came back and had a standout fall camp, finally showing the Tiger fans what he's showed Orgeron and the program in the last month.
"He reminds me of Justin Jefferson in a lot of ways," Orgeron said. "He has great body control, he can catch the ball, he has deceptive speed and he can get off the press. And he has great hands."
As for Thomas, the freshman hauled in two passes for 50 yards while Nabers caught the first catch of his career after being inactive the first two games with an injury. This group, which has been raved about since the summer, is really starting to click at the right time for the purple and gold.
If LSU can find some more consistency with its run game, this Tigers offense and the confidence the young receivers are playing with, could make for a potent unit moving forward.
“It’s getting there. I have seen those guys make some tremendous plays. We have to design plays to get them all the ball," Orgeron said. "Malik Nabers probably had the best camp of all of them, and he was hurt, so he only got a couple plays tonight. Chris Hilton is a 7-1 high jumper. Those guys can make plays. They are going to share the ball. We will get it around to them and play them all.”