Baton Rouge, Louisiana (AP) — New LSU coach Brian Kelly is hoping his team can keep a pretty big secret during the week leading up to the Tigers’ renewed season opener.
Kelly said Monday that he knew within about 48 hours who would start as quarterback this Sunday night against Florida State in New Orleans. But he added that he would prefer not to announce whether it would be redshirted freshman Garrett Nussmeier or Arizona State transfer Jayden Daniels until as close to kickoff as possible.
“Of course, I think everyone here wants to know who a quarterback is; I understand,” Kelly began. “But I think it would be a tactical advantage for us not to announce it.
“Look, the state of Florida has played the game; it’s an advantage for them,” Kelly continued. “Therefore, in this sense, it will not help us to give up any of our cards. So we’re going to keep our map until game day.”
The Seminole clash on Labor Day weekend at the Superdome with LSU after a lopsided 47-7 win over Duquesne in Tallahassee, Florida last weekend. Meanwhile, the Tigers are about to begin a new era under Kelly, who was lured away from Notre Dame by a nearly $100 million 10-year offer from LSU.
Kelly said when fall camp opened in early August that his staff had a relatively large number of starting lineup decisions to make, especially around the quarterback, cornerback and offensive line.
Nassmeier and Daniels have always been in intense competition, Kelly said, indicating that both should count on playing time this season regardless of who starts.
“There are a lot of similarities between them in terms of what they can do,” Kelly said. “They both run very well. They can both play out of pocket and of course we don’t have to change the game. … These are 1A and 1B. It’s not 1 and 2. And both will obviously make a difference this year.”
Whoever the reserve player is must stay “so involved” in the game – wearing a helmet – “because they know how close they are to playing every flick,” Kelly added.
“We’re going to be natural in being able to move on to the next game with the next quarterback,” the coach said. “It’s not that you have to flip your game sheet and go to Jayden Daniels’ game calls or Nussmeier’s game plan.”
Kelly has been more outspoken about his offensive line, whose most experienced player, Tackle Cameron Wire, started in just four games last season.
Kelly said that once Garrett Dellinger, who played both tackle and guard, demonstrated for the first time in his career that he could also be an effective center, “everything else fell into place.”
Dellinger had to learn not only new techniques related to snapping the ball and then quickly moving into a blocking stance, but also how to perform blocking tasks on the line of scrimmage.
“There’s a lot going on out there,” said Kelly, who has earned a reputation for developing offensive linemen. “Here’s a guy who hasn’t played in that position, so that’s a big request.”
Kelly said junior Anthony Bradford and Central Florida transfer Miles Frazier would start on defense, while Wire and rookie Will Campbell would start on tackle.
But he added that several other linemen would get their shots.
“We’re probably not in a position right now where 72 games for the inside guys and outside guys is feasible,” the coach said. “We’ll probably have to play with 7 or 8 guys.”
On a run back, John Emery Jr. will appear to be the favorite – if he qualifies. Kelly was ambivalent about this.
“John has done everything to stay in good standing in the football program, but I have things that I can’t control as they relate to who I can play with, and this is not something I can comment on,” said Kelly.
If Emery can’t play, Penn State transfer Noah Kane and sophomore Armony Goodwin seem like the best options.
Kelly did not comment on who will start on the minor team, but it looks like several players recently acquired from other college teams are on the list.
Ohio State alumnus Sevin Banks, Oklahoma State Senior Interpreter Jarrick Bernard-Converse, Louisiana-Lafayette State Associate Interpreter Mekhi Garner, and McNeese State Alumnus Colby Richardson all perform well in practice.
NOTES: LSU has announced that midfielder Antoine Sampa has entered the transfer portal. Sampah missed all of last season with an injury after playing four games for the Tigers in 2020 as a full-time rookie.
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