How LSU football's offense could evolve with Garrett Nussmeier as 2024 starting QB
BATON ROUGE – LSU football has found its starting quarterback of the future.
Garrett Nussmeier is staying in Baton Rouge for the 2023 season after he did not enter the spring transfer portal window, indicating that he will be in line to become the Tigers' starting quarterback in 2024 when Jayden Daniels departs after this year.
"Everybody knew that he was a priority in terms of our program moving forward, because Jayden had one (year) and he's got three, so you can do the math there," Kelly said to The Athletic at the Houston Touchdown Club on May 2. "When you can keep your program intact for three more years at the quarterback position without having to play a freshman, that's stability that's quite uncommon in college football today."
But with Nussmeier as the starter, how will LSU's offense change from what it is now under Daniels? Here's a deep dive.
Deeper passing concepts
It's no secret that Nussmeier's arm strength is elite. The nation bore witness to that during the second half of the SEC Championship Game, when he threw for 294 yards and averaged 10.9 yards per attempt against eventual national champion Georgia.
This means that offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock should be inclined to design a passing attack that better fits Nussmeier's aggressive downfield style.
If they don't enter next year's draft, Brian Thomas Jr. and Chris Hilton could greatly benefit from that potential schematic shift, given Thomas' ball-winning skills and Hilton's speed. Freshmen Shelton Sampson Jr. and Jalen Brown would also thrive in a big-play system.
More play-action passes
To help open up those shots downfield, sucking in safeties and linebackers closer to the line of scrimmage with play-action designs will be crucial in opening up more space downfield for Nussmeier to attack.
According to Pro Football Focus, LSU ran a greater percentage of play-action passes with Daniels at quarterback than with Nussmeier. Daniels faked handoffs on 20% of his dropbacks last season while Nussmeier did it on just 15.3% of dropbacks.
But schematically, leaning heavily into play-action fakes would make more sense for Nussmeier's style of play when he becomes the starter. Not only does play-action force defenders to creep toward the line of scrimmage, but it also simplifies a quarterback's reads, something Nussmeier could benefit from as a first-year starter.
LSU FOOTBALL RECRUITING:5 Questions on LSU football Class of 2024 recruiting following Trey'Dez Green commitment
DRAFT EXPERTS ANALYZE LSU PLAYERS:How the experts analyzed every LSU football player taken in the 2023 NFL Draft
LSU FOOTBALL REPLACEMENTS:How does Brian Kelly, LSU football replace players taken in the 2023 NFL Draft?
More plays with Nussmeier under-center
Play-action passes and runs from the shotgun work best with a mobile quarterback. That's because the threat of the quarterback as a runner can keep a defense guessing, even if they can clearly see whether the quarterback is handing the ball off or not as he faces the defense head-on.
Nussmeier is a good athlete and runner, but he isn't as dynamic as Daniels on the move. For LSU, this means that to get the most out of their play-action passing game and rushing attack with Nussmeier as the starter, it should place him under-center where his handoffs and fake handoffs will be more hidden from the defense's point of view.
LSU didn't base its offense on under-center play-action concepts last season. But the Tigers have the personnel to lean into that type of offense in 2024 with Nussmeier, an experienced receiving group that can expose the extra space created downfield and an offensive line that should have two third-year starters at left and right tackle, allowing him and his weapons to execute these plays that take more time to develop.
Koki Riley covers LSU sports for The Daily Advertiser. Email him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter at @KokiRiley.