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What To Watch For: Southern

It’s LSU vs LSU this week, time to get right

Josh Auzenne, WAFB

This weekend is going to be an absolute blast in Baton Rouge. More than a football game, this is a celebration of the Baton Rouge community I’ve come to love from afar (Connecticut), the cultural triumph of its universities, and the shared love of the greatest game in the world. Put the football game on the back-burner for a second. LSU and Southern fans alike get to watch two of the greatest bands in the country do their thing with all of their best friends and family. Saturday is a celebration.

That said, there IS a football game, and it’s important for LSU to iron some things out now before the schedule gets real again.

When LSU has the Ball

FG and PAT Protections

Oh my god was Sunday a disaster on special teams or what? I have far less expertise in the schematic fundamentals of special teams than I do offense or even defense, but I do know that you’re not supposed to let people free through the protection to block kicks. You’re DEFINITELY not supposed to do it twice. LSU needs to get their place-kicking protection schemes and assignments in order ASAP, because, as we have been reminded, special teams can produce HUGE swings in game advantage. You must be sound on special teams.

Kayshon Boutte

I have come to be far more charitable to Kayshon Boutte than most for his performance on Sunday. It is very important to remember that he is coming off of a fairly severe injury and that Sunday was his first live-action since going down. It is extremely common in football to see players need a few games to regain their confidence on the field, as well as regain their sense of the pace and speed of the game. This is a major opportunity for him to regain all that. Against an FCS team, Boutte will have the opportunity to get live reps against a level of competition that should ease him back into the flow of things. He needs to take advantage of it, this is a money year.

Stat Predictions:

Passing: Daniels: 14/18, 235 yards, 4 TD

Rushing: Daniels: 8 carries, 65 yards, 1 TD

Receiving: Boutte, 7 catches, 200 yards, 3 TD (he’s going off)

When Southern has the ball

The Replacement of Maason Smith

There’s no sugarcoating it, the loss of Maason Smith is devastating. In my opinion, Smith was the most irreplaceable player on the roster this season. He is a game changer who changes the math for you defensively. When you have a force as dominant as he is, it allows you to play down a body in the run fit, as he can command multiple gaps, create disruption, and blow up the structure of run concepts. In the pass rush, he creates interior pressure as well as opens up 1-on-1s on the outside for your talented edge rushers. In my view, he was the best player on the 2022 LSU Tigers, and he is gone immediately. LSU is now tasked with replacing the irreplaceable, and it will be very interesting to see the kinds of things people like Jaquelin Roy, Mekhi Wingo, and co are asked to do on the interior of the defensive line that was once viewable as a massive strength. On a more human note, I’m gutted for Maason and know that he is going to use this as motivation to come back more dominant than ever.

Run Fit Assignments

One of the only real issues I had with the defense on Sunday was a handful of missed assignments in the run fit. It’s the first game of the year so it happens, but this is a really, really good week to get that ironed out. This is the best opportunity to do it considering the next opponent doesn’t run the ball and they won’t be practicing their normal run fit structures and assignments during Mike Leach week. Fix it this week in practice.

At Halftime