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Winners and Losers: Florida State

Matt House I’m begging you: let Harold Perkins do what he does best

NCAA Football: Louisiana State at Florida State Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

As Sunday drew closer the worse I felt about LSU’s (0-1) chances of going to Orlando and knocking off Florida State (1-0).

Turns out those feelings weren’t wrong as Florida State absolutely hammered LSU 45-24, including a 31-7 beating in the second half. The Noles looked legit while LSU played the exact way we all feared in our preseason best case/worst case roundtable: shaky secondary, an o-line that’s not as good as advertised, and a receiver group that is all bark but no bite. Let’s get into the few bright spots and the many, many red flags from Sunday’s drubbing.

Winner: Tre Bradford

Who had Tre Bradford scoring the first touchdown of 2023 on their bingo card? The journeyman running back who came to LSU only to leave for Oklahoma only to come back to LSU only to vanish to parts unknown only to come back again to LSU was the first back on the field and caught a 55-yard wheel route on the first play from scrimmage.

Bradford would then score a touchdown on LSU’s next possession to tie the game at 7. I’m happy for him. Bradford’s had maybe the weirdest career I’ve ever seen, but I’m happy he’s back in the purple and gold and contributing.

Loser: Offensive Line

Maybe this will be a case where Florida State’s group ends up being the best LSU faces all season, but the Tiger offensive line generated no push at all up front.

Tre Bradford ran for one more yard than I did last night; Noah Cain had as many carries (4) as he did yards; Josh Williams popped ripped off a 35-yard on an excellently timed draw play and thank goodness he did because otherwise his night would have read as this: 3 carries, 9 yards. The Tiger running backs combined for 49 yards on 12 carries and that’s with Williams’ long of 35. Take that away and you’re looking at 11 carries for 14 yards. Last season it took a couple of weeks of shuffling to get LSU’s best five linemen out there, and I’d imagine the same happens this fall. Don’t be surprised if Lance Heard gets onto the field early and often against Grambling.

Winner: Bradyn Swinson

Swinson really showed out last night. Playing that JACK linebacker spot, Swinson had a TFL, a quarterback hurry and was LSU’s most disruptive defender. Of course that’s thanks in large part to...

Loser: Matt House, Brian Kelly and the misusage of Harold Perkins.

Whatever great plans House and Kelly had for Harold Perkins: inside linebacker need to be scrapped immediately, and frankly should have been scrapped at halftime. Perkins is a generational type of disruptor, having him sitting back away from the action or covering tight ends is a disservice to your team.

I could have accepted Florida State running at Perkins and him getting swallowed up by the most veteran offensive line in college football. I’d tip my hat to the Noles and say “yeah your guys were just better than ours.” What I can’t accept, however, is to essentially gameplan your best player out of the game. Perkins changed the Ole Miss game and won the Arkansas game last year; he had a major hand in making Bryce Young uncomfortable last November. He did all of that by getting after quarterbacks, not by sitting back in pass coverage. Max has said for months that this experiment was foolhardy and that Perkins is a Von Miller/TJ Watt/Micah Parsons type of rusher. Don’t make him something he isn’t, let him do what he does best.

Loser: Situational Football

3-10 on third downs, 0-3 on fourth downs. So LSU had 13 “gotta have it” moments and whiffed 10 times. Florida State, meanwhile, was 9-14 on third downs and converted their one and only fourth down attempt.

Loser: Secondary

Florida State’s wide receiver unit is probably the best LSU will face all season long, but I’m not sure there’s anything that can be done to help out the secondary. These are the cards Matt House has been dealt. What he does with them is up to him, though as a tip I’d recommend using that guy wearing 4 to get after the opposing quarterback.

Loser: Receivers

Kyren Lacy had two killer drops and Brian Thomas Jr. dropped a 30-yard pass and the very next play from scrimmage was the Jayden Daniels interception. For four years now we’ve told ourselves every wide receiver room LSU has is the second coming of Chase/Jefferson/Marshall. It’s time the veterans on this team perform like it, otherwise they’ll need to make room for the next wave. Catch the ball.

Loser: Special Teams

I can’t believe we’re having this conversation again. Aaron Anderson muffed a punt and made a couple of questionable decisions returning kicks out of the end zone and getting stopped short of the 25; Gregory Clayton fair caught a punt with his arms behind his head. I can’t do another year of this, y’all. At least this year it’s looking like they figured out how to block for field goals and PATs.