That’s more like it.
Three weeks into the 2021 season, LSU finally played at or near its talent level. I won’t be so bold to say that the coaching staff has fixed every single flaw on this team and are setting themselves up for a 14-1 finish (it was Central Michigan after all). But, as Poseur said in the recap, has anyone across the division, let alone the entire country, looked great every single week? Maybe our boys aren’t as out of it as we thought.
Winner: Max Johnson
By far and away his best performance as a starter. Johnson completed 74 percent of his passes and averaged 10.6 yards per attempt. Oh and 372 yards plus five touchdowns. That’s an encouraging sign for him and Jake Peetz. I’m not the Xs and Os like Max (our Max not LSU) but didn’t it look like the entire approach passing the ball changed? Heck the first play of the game Johnson uncorked one deep to Kayshon Boutte. It was an incomplete pass but Johnson wasn’t attempting those throws in the first two games.
Winner: The freshmen class
Maybe the reason the LSU offense looked so much better was because they’re playing the right guys? Saturday night was a youth movement by LSU’s heralded freshman class. Let’s start with Deion Smith
Smith caught five passes for 135 yards and two touchdowns including that sensational score above. Next, let’s talk about Jack Bech.
Bech snagged that one-handed touchdown plus another four balls. He ended the night with five catches, 80 yards and that touchdown. Finally, let’s shoutout Corey Kiner.
Corey Kiner vs. Central Michigan:— Cody Worsham (@CodyWorsham) September 19, 2021
6.2 yards per carry
61 yards after contact
5.1 yards after contact per carry
6 missed tackles forced
3 runs of 10+
We haven’t seen an LSU running back do that all season. We haven’t seen an LSU running back do that since Clyde Edwards-Helaire.
If Saturday showed us anything it’s that LSU has found themselves their new No. 2 receiver (Smith), their starting tight end (Bech), and their starting running back. Heck I’d argue they even found their new No. 3 receiver in Brian Thomas Jr., and don’t be surprised if Malik Nabers starts pushing the older guys for that fourth spot.
Loser: Upperclassmen skill position players not named Kayshon Boutte
Thank Jontre Kirklin, Jaray Jenkins, Ty Davis-Price and some of those other guys for what they’ve done in their LSU careers and wish them the best moving forward because those dudes shouldn’t be playing over these freshmen. You can’t say “well it’s Central Michigan!” because LSU struggled against worse competition last week in McNeese State. And you can’t say “well the offensive line!” because LSU had its starting five against UCLA and still struggled. Playing the wrong skill guys has been the common denominator and hopefully the changes made by the coaching staff are here to stay.
Winner: The defensive line
This group has been as good as advertised. LSU came into Saturday leading the nation in sacks with 12 and added five more against the Chippewas. BJ Ojulari is turning himself into a first round pick come 2023 and Jaquelin Roy is giving LSU some serious push from the inside.
The downside from Saturday was Andre Anthony left the game with a scary looking non-contact injury. We should find out more later today about the severity of the injury.