In an ugly victory over the ULM Warhawks, LSU gave their young wide receivers a chance to continue taking valuable snaps. Preparing for the future and giving this freshman class an opportunity to get their feet wet has been something this Tigers staff has made a point to do throughout the home stretch of the season.
It was the Malik Nabers show all first half for this Tigers offense. The freshman receiver caught four passes for 143 yards and a touchdown to give this unit a spark they desperately needed.
Nabers showed flashes of what’s to come in Tiger Stadium for the next few seasons, looking to add fuel to the fire alongside Kayshon Boutte next year. It’s been clear he’s next in line to be a star for this fiery offense.
Max Johnson detailed how effective Nabers is with the ball in his hands, being capable of making something out of nothing each down.
“I think he’s the best when the ball is in his hands,” Johnson said. “I think he’s done a good job of what the coaches have wanted.”
"I think he beat a lot of one-on-one coverages. There were a lot of times they were zero-blitzing," coach Ed Orgeron said. "And other times I think (Max Johnson) got tired of throwing the ball to Jack (Bech), because Jack has been our main target."
Along with Nabers showing out, LSU fans had the chance to see freshman receiver Brian Thomas Jr. continue making plays. The youngster has had his share of opportunities this season with everyone so banged up and has made the most of them.
Thomas Jr. finished with four receptions for 61 yards and a touchdown of his own against the Warhawks, putting his athleticism on display with his 42-yard score.
“Those guys are going to be two elite receivers for LSU,” Orgeron said on Nabers and Thomas Jr. “The future is bright for them.”
It’s evident this tandem has the chance to be special in Death Valley. Just freshmen getting tremendous snaps so early in their careers, it’s preparing them for what’s to come, but this class gets even deeper with the versatility of Jack Bech.
Bech has been a bright spot all season long, being Johnson’s go-to guy after Boutte went down with injury. Saturday night was even more of what has come to be expected from the freshman.
Totaling five receptions for 46 yards, Bech just about did it all. Picking up blocks to protect Johnson and catching virtually any ball thrown his way, the Tigers have a good one in Bech and have known it since the summer.
This LSU receiving room is set for the next few seasons with Nabers, Thomas Jr. and Bech at the helm. Getting these key snaps as freshmen has set the foundation for the youngsters who are up next in Death Valley.
Their desire to be the best every day in practice, routinely pushing each other on the field, has rubbed off on this entire team. Tyrion Davis-Price harped on what makes this freshman group so talented and how competitive they are on the gridiron.
“Their work ethic, they come to practice each and every day.” Davis-Price said. “They compete with one another. They make each other better, they really do. They’ve been doing that since the summer they came in. I really appreciate them working so hard for this team.”
Tiger fans saw Kayshon Boutte break out of his shell to close out his freshman campaign a season ago. With Nabers and Thomas Jr. doing the same this year, it’s clear just how special this wide receiver room will be going into next year.