LSU routs Southern in historic ball game

Malik Nabers and Kayshon Boutte celebrate after a Tiger touchdown against Southern

Last Saturday, the LSU Tigers defeated the crosstown opponent Southern Jaguars 65-17 on a historic night for the Baton Rouge community.

This game marked the first time that these two programs met on the football gridiron, and the leaders of both schools met with one another all week to discuss partnership opportunities that will benefit the universities in the coming years.

There isn’t much to say about the mostly uneventful contest other than the fact that whatever quarterback controversy fans thought existed was taken down faster than the LSU student who decided to wander onto the field during the game.

I mean no disparagement of redshirt freshman quarterback Garrett Nussmeier. He has plenty of ability and Tiger coach Brian Kelly noted as much in his Monday afternoon press conference. However, it was clear when the dust settled against Southern that Jayden Daniels is the starting quarterback for LSU moving forward.

Daniels had been criticized by armchair quarterbacks for “holding on to the ball too long” after LSU’s loss to the Seminoles, and many believed that the Tiger coaching staff would have been wiser to start Nussmeier in the season opener.

While Daniels struggled to stay in the pocket to make throws against Florida State, the issue wasn’t part of the real problems that costed LSU against the Seminoles, but I won’t rehash the litany of issues again. If you’d like to know my thoughts on the FSU game, you can find them here.

Daniels showed a better level of discernment with regards to the Southern game though. He finished the game 10 for 11 for 137 yards, three passing touchdowns, and one rushing score.

Daniels’s touchdown pass to wideout Jack Bech in the first quarter was arguably his greatest score of the night. The Tiger quarterback pulled the football down multiple times as he scrambled and scanned the field before finally finding Bech open in the corner of the endzone.

LSU managed to involve the running backs more as Armoni Goodwin, Noah Cain, and Josh Williams all found the pay dirt. The Tiger receiving corps also enjoyed great nights from Malik Nabers, Brian Thomas, Jr., and Kayshon Boutte.

To mention all of the defensive standouts in this game would make this column unbearably lengthy, but Harold Perkins, Jr., Sai’vion Jones, Desmond Little, and West Weeks were all at the top of the team tackle list.

There is also one more defensive player that deserves adulation.

Fifth-year senior Micah Baskerville has experienced highs and lows throughout his football career at LSU. After being recruited by Les Miles’s staff and playing for two different head coaches in his time in the purple and gold, Baskerville rarely, if ever, began a season as a starting linebacker. Fans were always quick to note when he plays though because his impact is undoubtedly felt when he’s on the field.

This was no more evident than when Baskerville stepped in front of a Jaguar pass in the first quarter and returned the interception for a touchdown. Baskerville is a seasoned linebacker whose play will seriously bolster a Tiger defense that will rely on his veteran leadership and active style of play, so fans will surely see more of him as the season progresses.

Now, I understand the rebuttal for the Tigers’ performance in this game. This was a Southern team that does not have the talent that LSU has, and that’s true. This game was a mismatch from the opening kickoff until the clock hit triple zeroes. 

What should be obvious to Tiger fans though is that this team will continue improve throughout the year as players and coaches continue to get acclimated to one another. This progression will be gradual yet drastic, and the Tigers will be a far cry from what fans saw against Florida State by the time LSU takes the field for the last regular season game against Texas A&M.

Opponents will improve too, and fans are right to remain concerned as the team enters Southeastern Conference play this weekend.

For the LSU faithful that predicted the team to go 10-2, it might feel as though the sky is about to come crashing down. The Tigers are not a New Year’s Six Bowl team, so many who predicted LSU to have that level of success are likely to have a more pessimistic outlook on what lies ahead. At the beginning of the season, I predicted LSU to go 7-5 on the season, and while I thought that the Tigers would beat Florida State, I stand by my overall outlook.

Games like Ole Miss, Texas A&M, and Florida look far more winnable than they did at the beginning of the year, and the Tigers have the talent to stay on the field with many of the teams left on their schedule. While I chastised Kelly and the LSU coaching staff for the product they put on the field against the Seminoles, I also realize that they need time to continue to learn this roster and implement their philosophy.

I’m not saying this season is going to be pretty. I’m actually saying the opposite. The Tigers are going to lose more games, and some of those losses will feel frustrating and avoidable. However, LSU is also going to win some games that will keep the fan base excited for the future.

This year is going to be the closest experience Tiger fans will have to a true rebuild of the program, so it’s best to look at the rest of the season with a calmer, more patient disposition than what was shown in the aftermath of Florida State.

Fans should relax and enjoy the season as this team lays the foundation that will be the bedrock of success for the LSU program for years to come.

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