I know nobody gets too jazzed up for an FCS opponent, but it’s pretty cool to see LSU play Southeastern. For one, it’s the first matchup in 69 (nice) years, and once upon a time the Lions had a proud program with six Gulf States Conference championships in the 50s and early 60s.
It should make for one helluva tailgate, if nothing else, and that’s a key element of any home opener.
What To Watch For On Saturday
You play a week one neutral-site opener with top 10 opponent, just win however you can.
But when you play an FCS opponent in week two, now it’s time to show some actual improvement and frankly, just look good. As cool as it is to have Southeastern visiting, this game is about LSU exerting itself and playing like the bigger, stronger, faster team that it is.
Every problem that we saw against Miami isn’t going to magically fix itself, but the main thing is to show some progress in some of those areas. For Joe Burrow, get that completion rate up and make a few big plays down the field. For the offensive line, give him the time and create holes up front more consistently.
Start small, improve play-to-play efficiency, and let the athletic advantage take care of itself.
LSU got seven freshmen involved in last weekend’s opener, but that still wasn’t enough for some underclassmen on the team, with Tyler Shelvin throwing a social media temper tantrum after the game over his lack of playing time (because that always helps matters).
While Shelvin’s status may not be known, it stands to reason that even more new faces will see more snaps on Saturday night. For one, Andre Anthony, Ray Thornton and Travez Moore will all likely rotate in place of the injured K’Lavon Chaisson. For another, the roles will only increase for freshmen like Ja’Marr Chase, Terrace Marshall, Kelvin Joseph, etc...
And if the starters do their jobs, that will also create more reps for the backups. Namely, somebody like Myles Brennan, who can see time in up to four games and still redshirt, which is something LSU’s coaches would like to make happen if circumstances allow.
Ideally, that would also mean Brennan would have the chance to get some quality passes in, and not just hand it off. There’s no reason to run the score up on SLU here, but LSU needs to let its players rep the offense that they’re going to run all year, and not scale things back too much. Obviously, there’s a limit and I think reasonable people can see that, but don’t completely call things off as soon as things get out of hand.
Among some of the other names I’d like to see more of on Saturday: Chris Curry, Austin Deculus and the other reserve offensive linemen, Thaddeus Moss if he’s healthy, Patrick Queen, and freshmen defensive linemen like Davin Cotton, Dare Rosenthal and Shelvin, if he’s ready to get his mind right.
A couple leftover notes from last week that fit more in the “let’s work on that” category for this week:
- Burrow: we saw a ton of pre-snap communication and huddle management on Sunday, and when it was good it was great, but he seemed to need to calm down a little early, leading to some clock management/time-out issues, plus a near-interception when Justin Jefferson missed a hot call on a blitz.
- A big part of Miami’s comeback came on some big plays that came because safeties, particularly Jacoby Stevens and Grant Delpit, did a poor job of maintaining deep leverage on vertical routes.
- Tackling, tackling, tackling — LSU had four sacks of Malik Rozier last week, but they probably could have had a good two or three more if they’d wrapped him up on some opportunities.
- Offensive line: Lloyd Cushenberry and Saahdiq Charles were probably the two most consistent last week for LSU. Badara Traore shows some great potential but he also had a couple of badly blown assignments both in the run game and pass pro. Damien Lewis as well. That’s not a big surprise for two newcomers, but both have the potential to be powerful blockers if they can get that mental side shored up.