Why LSU Football Should Lean Into Youth Movement at Wide Receiver

As SEC play begins, Tigers have four freshmen receivers who should be major contributors in passing offense
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The LSU Football program began to see a surge with its wide receiver core during the 2019 National Championship season, and with the youth movement going on a wide receiver another great group of pass catchers is emerging.

There are a few positions that are easier for true freshmen to make impact plays and be a mainstay within an offense or defense. Wide receiver would be one of them, and LSU has three this year alone.

With the current freshman trio of Jack Bech, Deion Smith and Brian Thomas, Jr., there’s a definitive high level of talent that’s rarely seen within one class and one position. Beyond just watching these three shred Central Michigan last Saturday, the stats do not lie either.

Bech already accrued 10 receptions for 155 yards and one touchdown, while Smith snared seven receptions for 148 yards and two touchdowns, and Thomas accounted for three receptions for 68 yards.

Considering the other very talented LSU wide receivers these three freshmen continue to go against and compete for playing time, they would probably have even better statistics at other programs with less overall wide receiver talent. With that being stated, each of the three certainly did impact the game against the Chippewas.

Bech provided five catches for 80 yards and his first touchdown as a Tiger. As good as Bech played, Smith topped him with five receptions for 135 yards and two touchdowns. There was still room for Walker to make plays, too. He hauled in two passes for 50 yards.

From just the three freshmen, they accounted for 12 receptions, 265 yards and three touchdowns. That would be a good game for an entire wide receiver corps, let alone just three players.

Now the question becomes, what else can these three wide receivers do?

For starters, Bech already played each of the wide receiver positions. He’s possibly the X-factor for the Tigers as they need to keep feeding him the football in an attempt to keep teams from double teaming sophomore wide receiver Kayshon Boutte, who just might win some postseason honors for his strong wide receiver play.

To do that, Boutte probably needs help from Bech, as well as the other two freshmen receivers.

Because Bech already figured out the playbook well enough to make a seamless transition between the different positions, he can definitely continue to frustrate defenses and potentially help free Boutte from those pesky double teams. There’s one other aspect to watch out for when the Tigers start going with tempo on offense.

It’s one thing to know the playbook, it’s quite another to know the playbook well enough to be able to operate at warp speed or any other level of a no huddle operation. A wide receiver needs to be completely sure of his route and overall responsibility during each play. If not, it can lead to Max Johnson being sacked or throwing an interception when the wide receiver ran the incorrect route.

If Bech, Smith and Thomas play during the moments in the game when LSU operates the no huddle, then LSU fans will know that all three of these young men have truly figured out the offense and are ready to roll during the all-important SEC conference schedule.

In the end, this is a fantastic group of freshmen wide receivers. Hopefully they are ready to take that next step and continue making plays even when it’s time to go tempo