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LSU quarterback Myles Brennan (15) works in a drill at practice, Thursday, March 18, 2021, at the LSU football practice facility. Behind him are quarterbacks Max Johnson (14) and Garrett Nussmeier (5).

The four-man quarterback battle has entered its second week, and Orgeron said that Max Johnson is still taking the first snaps. Orgeron has rewarded the 6-foot-5, 219-pound sophomore for his 2-0 record as a starter last season, when he led the Tigers to dramatic comeback victories in the final two games.

The other returning quarterbacks — senior Myles Brennan, sophomore TJ Finley — are still splitting equal reps with Johnson and early enrollee freshman Garrett Nussmeier.

Nussmeier, the son of former New Orleans Saints quarterback and current Dallas Cowboys quarterbacks coach Doug Nussmeier, has impressed Orgeron with by making "plays with his feet," his "very accurate" throws and his "strong arm."

"All of them are competing right now," Orgeron said. "All of them are getting equal reps. We've only practiced four times. This is going to be an ongoing thing. We've got to let it go throughout camp. All our guys are doing well right now."

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The offensive line returned every starter from the 2020 season, and Orgeron said "somebody's going to have to really shine" if they're going to break up the starting lineup. Anthony Bradford, a 6-foot-5, 365-pound sophomore, has impressed Orgeron lately and "if he gets it going, gets in shape," the former four-star recruit from Michigan "could be a guy who can factor in as a potential starter."

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Orgeron said the safety position is "wide open."

Derek Stingley and Eli Ricks, both named to All-America teams in their careers, have the cornerback positions locked up, and Orgeron said junior Jay Ward could move to safety to compete for a spot. Ward played some nickel safety in 2020, along with junior CorDale Fott. Orgeron said Flott at nickel is "pretty solid," although there's still the potential for movement. 

The linebacker position is another open battle, and Orgeron raved Tuesday about junior college transfer Navonteque "Bugg" Strong.

Orgeron said Strong is "a tough hitter, a hard-nosed football player" who should push for a starting job along with returning senior Damone Clark. Clemson transfer Mike Jones Jr. will arrive in the summer and also compete, Orgeron said, and returning senior Micah Baskerville is missing the spring to work on academics and is expected to return in the fall.

The defensive line still remains one of the deepest position groups on the roster. Orgeron said LSU has six to eight linemen who can play in the rotation. Five-star freshman Maason Smith has impressed lately and Orgeron said he could see the Terrebonne High graduate become a starter in the rotation if he continues to improve.

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Email Brooks Kubena at bkubena@theadvocate.com.