March 28, 2023

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LSU Finishes Out The Home Slate With Senior Night Against UAB

LSU will play its last game in Tiger Stadium this season against UAB. (Photo taken by Billy Metcalf)

The #6 ranked LSU Tigers (8-2, 6-1) will finish the home slate at Tiger Stadiume tonight against UAB. The Tigers are coming off a 13-10 win against Arkansas to claim the Golden Boot Trophy and with Alabama defeating Ole Miss, it punched the Tigers’ ticket to play in the SEC Championship Game in Atlanta.

Now, after clinching the SEC West, LSU will have two more games to wrap up the regular season before taking on the Georgia Bulldogs in Atlanta for the SEC title. Tonight, the Tigers will play their last home game of the season against UAB. With that being said, there will be a lot of players that will be suiting up for the last time in Tiger Stadium.

“This is a really good football team that we’re playing in UAB. As I segue into this weekend’s game, it’s Senior Day at LSU. We’ll have 17 seniors that we’ll be honoring. 13 of them have already earned their college degree. Obviously, our mission is to graduate champions, and we’ll be able to live up to that creed.”

LSU Head Coach Brian Kelly on Senior Day

Being senior leaders and embracing the new culture has helped set the foundation in year one of the Brian Kelly era.

“Watching them become SEC West Champions is so gratifying because they made that choice. I mean, they could have been average. They could have been poor. They could have just been good. They have chosen to be champions by the way they’ve gone to work every day both in the classroom and on the football field. That to me is this Senior Day is the choices that these guys made have been outstanding.”

LSU Head Coach Brian Kelly on this senior class

The 17 seniors will look to finish their last game in Tiger Stadium with a bang playing against the UAB Blazers.

This will be the third time that both these programs will face each other as both teams have a win in the series with UAB defeating LSU 13-10 in 2000 and LSU defeating UAB 56-17 in 2013.

The Blazers come in with a 5-5 record led by Bryant Vincent, who was promoted as the interim head coach after Bill Clark announced his retirement in June.

UAB’s offense features running back DeWayne McBride, who leads the nation in rushing yards per game with 156.3. The Blazers’ star running back has rushed for 1,407 yards and 17 touchdowns through the first 10 games. When the offense needs to throw the football, the team’s trigger man is Dylan Hopkins, who has thrown for 1,467 yards and eight touchdowns. His go to target is former Zachary Bronco Trae Shropshire, who has 30 catches for 612 yards and four touchdowns this season. Overall, the offense has averaged 32 points per game and 442 total yards per game.

Defensively, the Blazers have Noah Wilder, who leads the team in tackles with 94. As a unit, they are currently surrendering 21.3 points per game and 338.4 total yards. The secondary is the strength of the defense only allowing 181 passing yards per game.

“As I mentioned, last home game at Tiger Stadium. Playing a UAB team that has first year Head Coach Bryant Vincent, who has taken over. He had been the OC.”

“They have one of the best running backs in had the country in DeWayne McBride. He has over 1,400 yards rushing. Very accomplished on offense.”

“I think from an overview what I would say is a very mature team. This is made up of fifth year seniors. There’s a number of sixth year players on this team. So this is a mature, veteran football team that has a very good offensive structure. This is a team that knows what they want to do.”

“They want to run the inside-outside zone play. They want to be play action pass. Defensively they’re in a three-down, four-down structure. It’s a well-coached football team.”

“It’s a team that, quite frankly, is better than its record. They’ve had three or four losses that could easily be wins, and this could be one of the top teams in the non Power Five that would be coming in to Tiger Stadium. This is a really good challenge for our football team, and we’ll have to play well in Tiger Stadium against a really veteran football team.”

“And, again, led by Hopkins. Defensively, you know, very productive linebackers in Wilder and Taylor. And, again, I think what stands out to me is their run game, their play action pass, and then defensively their ability to move into three-down, four-down looks and be multiple.”

“So, again, this is going to be a lot about our football team being better prepared and then flipping the switch into better performance on Saturday.”

LSU Head Coach Brian Kelly on UAB

Carrying the Tigers in their previous matchup was its star freshman linebacker Harold Perkins, who dominated the Razorbacks with eight tackles, four sacks, and two forced fumbles.

Obviously, Perkins’ performance was impressive, but it was the help from the rest of the defense that helped Perkins thrive in his role.

“Obviously a lot of this has to do with the ability to flush him out. That’s BJ and Ali Gaye, and certainly Jaquelin Roy probably had his best game of the year.

I mean, there’s a lot of guys that go into this, right? Micah Baskerville. I could go on and on with that front. Sai’vion Jones was outstanding. He played with speed and agility. That group up front — Mekhi Wingo, we’ve talked about all year — they make a lot of that happen because they flush that quarterback. Then, you know, you’ve got a guy like that that can just chase them down.

LSU Head Coach Brian Kelly on LSU’s Defense

Linebacker Greg Penn also had a career day against the Razorbacks with his performance.

“He played with physicality and great instincts. That’s what we expect out of him. I think he’s going to have a great offseason and be a heck of a player for us.”

LSU Head Coach Brian Kelly on Greg Penn

While the defense had a great performance against Arkansas, the offense struggled as Jayden Daniels was sacked seven times by the Razorbacks’ defense. After Daniels was on an incredible three game stretch in wins against Florida, Ole Miss, and Alabama where he accounted for 14 total touchdowns, it was a tough day at the office as Daniels only completed eight passes for less than 100 yards in the win. The offense would like to get back on track tonight against UAB. The Tigers have been balanced this season, especially at quarterback as Daniels has 14 touchdown passes and 10 rushing touchdowns this season. Malik Nabers leads the team in receiving with 528 receiving yards on 44 receptions.

In speaking of running the ball, Josh Williams was the bright spot for the Tigers’ offense rushing for 122 yards on 19 carries and the team’s only touchdown.

“Well, first of all, the physicality that he brings. Low pads, plays low, strong, physical. And, you know, he is so strong. His lower half is so strong. He keeps his legs moving. Once you think you’ve got him tackled, there’s three or four more yards. He runs to daylight. Very effective runner in all those areas.”

“But I think his strength is his ability to do a little bit of everything for us. Pass protect, catch the ball out of the back field, and be a strong inside-out runner.”

LSU Head Coach Brian Kelly on Josh Williams

Whether it is the offense scoring a lot of points against Ole Miss, Florida, and Alabama or if it is the defense carrying the load in wins against Auburn and Arkansas, the Tigers have found different ways to close out games in the SEC. For Kelly, it all comes down to the culture that the team is trying to establish.

“Winning’s a habit and losing’s a habit. What we can take out from that game is they have done the things necessary to make winning a habit. They found a way to win that football game.”

LSU Head Coach Brian Kelly on winning culture

With big games down the line, the message that Kelly is trying to tell his team is to continue to focus on what is up next and for the Tigers, it is the Blazers.

“That’s a piece of who we are. We focus on a process more so than an outcome. It’s been a consistent way of how we do things on a daily basis. It’s been business as usual for us this week. Our focus has been strictly on our preparation.”

LSU Head Coach Brian Kelly on approach this week

LSU and UAB will play at 8:00 tonight on ESPN2.

Prediction: LSU 33, UAB 13

This will be one of those games that is going to be controlled by LSU from start to finish. UAB is a good football team that has a good chance of making the bowl game, but LSU’s depth and talent will be too much for UAB to overcome. LSU will be on cruise control while the offense finds its rhythm after having a lackluster day last week.

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