Brian Kelly and staff cost LSU in one-point loss to FSU
There is no reason to mince words.
The last few seasons for the LSU football program have been an utter embarrassment. In fact, times were so bad for the Tigers that the athletic department decided to cut its losses and fire coach Ed Orgeron a mere two years after winning a national championship.
For what it’s worth, this writer believes LSU athletic director Scott Woodward made the right call to replace Orgeron with current head coach Brian Kelly.
If given a few years, Kelly will surely have LSU back in the national conversation and competing for championships. However, what fans witnessed in the Tigers’ 2022 season opening 24-23 loss against the Florida State Seminoles was grossly disappointing, and much of the defeat falls squarely on the current coaching staff’s shoulders.
Yes, Kelly inherited a bare cupboard with regards to the LSU roster and had to heavily utilize the transfer portal to field the team that fans will cheer for this season. As a result, this Tiger football team is not going to be as talented as the teams in years past.
Lack of talent will be an acceptable excuse for the coaching staff when Alabama comes into Tiger Stadium this year and defeats LSU by double digits. Lack of talent is not an acceptable excuse for losing to the bad FSU team that defeated the Tigers this past weekend.
There were questions all offseason about the Tigers’ offensive line, and that group absolutely struggled against the Seminoles. LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels, who for his part played well enough to win the game, spent the entire night running for his life behind an offensive line that was constantly collapsing.
For whatever reason, LSU offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock continually tried to run plays with long-developing routes contingent on Daniels dropping deeper into the pocket. The run-pass option style that seemed to work for moments in the first half was shied away from for the better part of three quarters. Finally, the LSU coaching staff decided to run the high-tempo offense that the Tigers used to mount a comeback in the fourth quarter, but it felt like Denbrock was a day late and a dollar short when that time came.
Wide receivers Kayshon Boutte and Jack Bech were nearly nonexistent throughout the game, and while Boutte displayed a checked-out attitude for much of the contest, this coaching staff must do a better job of involving star wideouts if the Tigers want to consistently win games this season.
Defensively, LSU had trouble making stops on third down, but as a whole, defensive coordinator Matt House’s group did enough to give the offense chances to win the game. Unfortunately, defensive lineman Maason Smith suffered a season-ending ACL injury in the beginning of the game which will be a massive blow to the Tiger defense moving forward.
Thankfully, sophomore transfer Mekhi Wingo stepped in for Smith and played exceptionally, and LSU will have to continue to rely on his play for the rest of the year.
Perhaps, the worst performance of the night came from the Tigers’ special teams unit who accounted for two muffed punt returns, a shanked punt, a blocked field goal, and most importantly the blocked extra point at the end of the game.
In all frankness, special teams coordinator Brian Polian should be embarrassed by the product that he put out on the field against the Seminoles.
Polian became a favorite with fans in the offseason thanks to his love of the cajun turkey sandwich from Am-Mart and his enthusiasm for recruiting. He, as well as the other coaches, should consider this honeymoon phase with the LSU fan base finished.
The type of sandwich Polian enjoys or the “fun dad energy” that Denbrock apparently exudes are niceties of the summer that no one has the luxury to enjoy during the season if the Tigers continue to play like they did against Florida State.
Special teams miscues that cost LSU football games and not calling offensive plays to the strengths of your playmakers are two unacceptable aspects of the Tigers’ first defeat and must be corrected if the team is going to have a legitimate shot to finish with a better record than .500 this season.
I believe LSU will play better. I believe this coaching staff will adapt to the talent on the field and learn to accentuate the talent of their players. I believe Kelly when he says that there will be better days for this football team.
However, when Kelly’s staff took the reins, LSU fans were told to rest assured. The rebuild of the program would take some time, but the adults were back in the building regarding these new Tiger coaches. Those fans will certainly hold their end of the bargain when it comes to treating those coaches like adults. That will inevitably lead to fans scrutinizing the LSU program and the decision makers at every turn.
Kelly and his staff will have to rise to the occasion and make adjustments sooner rather than later or else the Tigers will be due for another agonizing football season.