December 3, 2022

LSU Head Coach Brian Kelly Looks Ahead To Ranked Matchup Against Tennessee After Auburn Road Victory

The LSU Tigers are coming off their fourth straight victory of the season against Auburn and Brian Kelly talked with the media today not only about the victory, but this week’s huge ranked on ranked matchup against the Tennessee Volunteers.

Kelly started off the press conference talking about how his team showed heart and grit in the come from behind win against Auburn on the road. However, he realizes that just having good effort is not going to cut it against the next couple of opponents on the schedule.

“Any road win, obviously, is a great win, especially in the fashion that we came back from a 17-0 deficit. I think the things that stand out after doing a deeper dive, defensively in the second half the turnovers, taking the football away and then running the football. We looked at our last three SEC games, we’re averaging six yards per rush in the second half. I think we’ve said from the very beginning the ability to run the football in the SEC was going to be a very important part of winning football games. We would like to win them in a different fashion but winning is winning. I think those things stand out.”

Brian Kelly on positive takeaways from Auburn win

“It’s pretty clear this team plays with great heart, and they’ll fight, but heart and fight will not win games against the opponents that we’re going to have over the next month or so. We’re going to have to have better execution. We’re going to have to coach better, and those things we’re going to have to have on display starting this weekend against an outstanding Tennessee football team.”

Brian Kelly on how only heart and grit is not going to win games moving forward

The Tennessee Volunteers come into this matchup in the top ten with a red hot offense led by a Heisman Trophy frontrunner in quarterback Hendon Hooker. Obviously, the Volunteers present a lot of problems for the Tigers.

“Josh Heupel has done a great job in a very short period of time of putting his stamp on this team. It is a fast-paced team. They’re the fastest team in college football. They snap the ball with an average of about 20 seconds on the clock. It’s led by Hendon Hooker, who I got a chance to go against when he was at Virginia Tech. He is talented. He is big, he is physical. He can throw the football. He runs it, and he has got playmakers. They’re electric at the slot with (Jalin) Hyatt. You’ve got a big body guy in (Bru) McCoy, (Cedric) Tillman, obviously, didn’t play last week, but he is obviously an alpha out there for them. Whether he plays or not, they are talented at the wide receiver position. Big, physical up front. They want to run the football, and then defensively of you’ve got athletes all over the place. On the front, they’ve played 12 players on their defense in their defensive line, so they’re rolling guys in and out. I think a team that is deserving of their ranking. They’ve earned it. They’re talented on both sides of the ball. Special teams, aggressive. I think they’ve got something like 15 kickoffs and half go to the right and half go to the left. They’re a very talented kicking team.”

Brian Kelly on Tennessee

The LSU Tigers come in ranked number 25 in the country and will play a top ten ranked Tennessee football team at 11:00 A.M. on Saturday. Despite the early kickoff time, Kelly urges the LSU fans to come out and support their football game in what is expected to be a great matchup.

“It’s early, but it’s Tiger Stadium. It’s LSU Football. If you are not excited about that, then I don’t know what gets you going in October. LSU vs. Tennessee in Tiger Stadium. What else is better to do?”

Brian Kelly on encouraging fans to arrive to the game early

Preseason All-American Kayshon Boutte has had a quiet season statistically with only 11 catches for 97 yards at this part of the season. Kelly said that they are continuing to try and get him more involved in the passing game.

“Part of this is building trust with a new quarterback. Obviously, we’re trying to get him the football. He is getting a lot of double coverage. We’re still winning. He is happy that we’re winning. All those guys that make decisions about who the best receivers are in the country are still going to look at Kayshon and go, ‘That’s a really, really good wide receiver’. Numbers are numbers. At the end of the day, he is going to continue to play this game at the next level, and the numbers won’t dictate where he gets drafted. It’s his ability to continue to play the game at the highest of levels, and when you turn on the film, and he is running full speed and he is beating guys and the ball didn’t come to him for whatever reason, that’s out of his control. So, what Kayshon continues to do better each and every week is he controls what he can control what he does that in practice and what he does that in games. He was happy we won the football game. Would he like the ball more? Absolutely. Would I like to get it to him more? Absolutely, but he has handled himself in the right way, and he continues to work for the team.”

Brian Kelly on getting Kayshon Boutte more involved in the offense

It is not only Kayshon Boutte, but the entire receiving core that the coaching staff is trying to get involved in the passing game. For Kelly, the source of the passing game struggles is not just in one area.

“I think I would continue to answer the question, and I’m going to be honest with you. Everybody should be asking the same questions, but I will tell you that it starts with putting together a comprehensive plan that can be repeated in the game. The guy that has his hands on the ball is the quarterback, and he is going to get most of the notoriety when we do well, and he is going to get a lot of the blame when it doesn’t go well. So, the quarterback is part of this. The wide receivers have got to be better at attention to detail. Their routes have to be better. We’ve got to throw it better and catch it better. There were probably five or six – and you probably can all remember them – where there needed to be a little bit better of a throw and a little bit better of a catch. So, that also goes to play-calling. We’ve got to be able to look at, are these the plays that we can repeat and are we doing too much? I think we’re looking at it in all of those areas because this is not going to work. We can’t throw for 85 yards with the talent that we have and expect to beat the Top 10 teams in the country.”

Brian Kelly on struggles last week in the passing game

This was also the second straight week Jayden Daniels did not finish the game because of injury. Kelly gave an injury update for the Tigers starting quarterback and how he is progressing early in the week.

“He’s fine. He had a bursa sac injury with his knee Saturday. It’s not a structural injury, but very painful. MRI came back clean. He feels like he’s 100 percent now.”

Brian Kelly on Jayden Daniels’ injury update

If Daniels is 100 percent for the Tennessee game, Kelly would love to see his quarterback be more aggressive in attacking downfield.

“I think we have to improve. We’ve got to be better at recognition. Look, there’s a difference between being on the edge aggressively and being reckless. We’re way too conservative right now, and so I don’t want to throw interceptions. That’s not what I want to do. I don’t want to turn the ball over. We haven’t thrown any. That’s not necessarily a bad thing in one respect, but if you are looking to be aggressive, you’re going to throw an interception or two because somebody made a great play, because you trust that you’re going to throw it in there. We’ve got to get Jayden to be a little bit more on that edge, and be a little bit more aggressive, and we will. We’ll get there with him because that’s the nature of this position. This position has to be with the skill players that we have, we’ve got to get that ball down the field, and we’ve got to get it into some tight windows sometimes. They’re not always going to be wide open, but those guys can make plays, and we have to get them the ball.”

Brian Kelly on wanting Jayden Daniels to be more aggressive throwing the football

Kelly had a couple of injury updates for key players. Kelly said that Garrett Dellinger will practice and return to action against Tennessee. Sevyn Banks had a scary injury on the opening kickoff, but there is good news that Banks had a spinal cord bruise and there are no structural issues.

Going back to the Tennessee matchup this Saturday, LSU’s defense has to be ready going up against the fastest paced offense in the country.

“You’ve got to get your cleats in the ground, and you’ve got to go play. In one instance they can’t do a lot of things either. So, if they’re going to snap the ball with 20 seconds on the clock, there’s not a lot of motion, there’s not a lot of changing of formations. They’ve got to line up right and left too. So, to play fast allows you a pretty clean look at what you are getting, but on the other side, you can’t do a lot defensively. But what you can do is get your cleats in the ground, line up, play fast, play free, and play physical. That’s what we’ll have to do against a really good Tennessee offense.”

Brian Kelly on preparing for a faced paced Tennessee offense

After giving up some coverage busts in the secondary, the Tigers defensive backs hope to clean up a lot of those issues that plagued them early in the Auburn game.

“We’ve addressed the issues. There are communication issues. Then really, making sure that our guys know the rules associated with coverages, and do your job. Don’t try to do somebody else’s job. We’ve been in flux a little bit back there, so making sure that there’s great communication, guys doing their job, not trying to do something that’s not part of our system, and rules and just over-communicate it now. Just make sure that it’s been communicated effectively and do a good job teaching it and re-doubling our efforts to make sure that point is getting across to those guys that are in that situation.”

Brian Kelly on preventing coverage busts in the secondary

A positive has been the play of the running game and a lot of it has to do with the Tigers’ stable core of running backs and an offensive line that is gaining a lot of confidence.

“I think what you see is what you get. Josh (Williams) has been kind of the guy for us. He is extremely reliable in all areas of the game. He can pass protect for us. Made a mistake out on a handoff sweep where he blocked below the waist, but he is usually really clean in all those areas and making good choices. He runs hard. He catches the ball out of the back field, so he has been really reliable. Then as we talked about, Emery is coming on. We feel like we can give him a little bit more and more each week. And then (Noah) Cain comes in with fresh legs, and he is a big guy. He kind of gives us a nice change-up when he does get in. We need all three. There’s no doubt.”

Brian Kelly on running back rotation

“We put a lot of pressure on them in the second half. We got down big. We had a great drive. I thought the protection was really good against some really good pass rushers. They had two legitimate pass rushers. You have two true freshmen (Will Campbell and Emery Jones Jr.) out there battling, but I thought, by and large, the offensive line has been a bright spot for us. Then, like we’ve talked about many, many times, the ability to run the football, when everybody in the stadium knows that LSU is going to run the football and exerting our will to close out football games in the SEC says a lot about the growth of that offensive line.”

Brian Kelly on offensive line play

Not only is the offensive line looking like a bright side right now, but the defensive line has certainly impressed throughout the season as well as expected earlier in the season.

“It was good this past weekend, and I think it got to that level. (Mehki) Wingo has been our most consistent. What made it better was Jaquelin Roy. His play this weekend is what we need to see from him each and every week. Now, he has been banged up. He has had a back issue. He was injury-free this week. He practiced all week, and you could see it in the way he played. If we can get that kind of play from Jaquelin Roy each and every week, we’re going to be pretty good up front even with the loss of a great player like Maason Smith.”

Brian Kelly on defensive line play

For the second time this season, BJ Ojulari was awarded SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week and it was his sack fumble on Auburn quarterback Robby Ashford that sparked the LSU Tigers in coming back from a 17-0 hole.

“I told him that was a captain’s play. What I meant by that was that was an effort play, and that was a timely play that gave us the life that we needed at that particular time. We were down 17-0, and we needed something good to happen. A leader like BJ made a play when a play needed to be made. Those things need to happen. You know, players need to make plays, and BJ made a big play in that moment.”

Brian Kelly on BJ Ojulari’s sack fumble

Through five games on the season, the LSU Tigers are 4-1 and Kelly reflected on what he has learned the most from his team over that first stretch of the season.

“I never really looked at it relative to the wins and losses. What I’ve looked at is will. We continue to get better each and every week as we go through the season, and can we develop an identity as a football team? I think that early on we’ve been able to identify that this football team will fight. It’s got grit. Those are traits that sometimes don’t ever show themselves during the season. I think we’re ahead of it because to go on the road and be down 17-0 and come back and win, that means that your program is establishing character within the ranks, and that to me puts you on the right path.”

Brian Kelly on team outlook through five games

Check out my takeaways from LSU’s win against Auburn tomorrow on our website.

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