The talent is always there at LSU but in recent years the Tigers have failed to live up to expectations. In 2021, injuries have certainly played a role in LSU not fulfilling its potential but there has been sort of a doubled edged sword as it's allowed many of the younger players some extra playing time.
With so many bodies down at key areas on this roster, there has been some real positive growth from that younger talent. Here are a few players we feel could establish themselves as cornerstones of this program with strong second half play.
Jack Bech (TE)
Outside of Boutte, if there's been one consistent offensive weapon for the Tigers it's been the freshman Bech. He's hauled in at least one catch in every game this season, totaling 28 catches for 333 yards and one touchdown during the true freshman campaign.
He's a linebacker mismatch with his speed and athleticism over the middle of the field and has become a favorite target of Johnson's on third down plays in particular. Johnson is still searching for that true No. 1 he can rely on with Boutte going down and Bech is as good a bet as any to earn that trust.
There have been good games out of the freshman with two 80-yard performances on the season but he's still searching for that true breakout game. It's a tough schedule to finish the season but if LSU hopes to navigate it with any success, the chemistry between Johnson and Bech must continue to evolve.
Malik Nabers (WR)
Bech has been the most reliable all season but Nabers has come on real strong over the last three weeks or so. After missing the first few games due to injury, Nabers has been a big play threat waiting to happen, making his outlook for the remainder of the 2021 season very positive.
Over his last three games, Nabers has brought in 10 passes for 132 yards and two touchdowns, joining Brian Thomas and Deion Smith in showing off the freshmen classes massive potential. Nabers has great hands and body control at 6-foot-1 as LSU has moved him all over the field in conference play.
Smith has been out of the lineup with an injury, leaving Thomas, Nabers, Jaray Jenkins and Trey Palmer to handle the majority of the receiver duties. But this is a group that could very likely see a different player featured every week from here on out. Nabers has a good chance to have one of those games down the stretch.
"Very smooth receiver, great route runner, great eye discipline, catch radius is very competitive," Orgeron said. "He also played defense and could probably start for us at safety. He is an excellent athlete and is gonna be an excellent player here."
Cordale Flott (CB)
Flott has been among the most impressive players on the roster in terms of improvement in play. He started out the season as the nickel corner, breaking onto the scene against Mississippi State with Derek Stingley out and continuing his strong play into Auburn and Florida.
With both Stingley and Elias Ricks out, Flott has taken over as an outside corner and held up well over the last few weeks. he's long and athletic, with the chance to be a difference maker in the secondary for the Tigers over the second half of the season.
Another name to keep an eye on will be freshman Sage Ryan, who earned his second straight start and held up well against Ole Miss despite being targeted early and often on Saturday. Ryan has five total tackles and two passes defended in these last two games and his game will only continue to ascend with more reps.
"New guys have got a chance,” Orgeron said. “They're eager and ready to go. Sage Ryan had a great week of practice. We've got some new guys in there. Cordale Flott is excited about playing corner.”