To start off Monday, LSU head coach Brian Kelly met with the media to discuss the first win of his coaching career at LSU and to also look ahead of the SEC opener against Mississippi State. This is what he had to say.
“It’s great to get back home in Tiger Stadium. It was the first time for me and the team. Obviously, getting off to a fast was crucial. I love the way our guys responded. The first play, we get the ball loose on special teams and then having one of the best if not the best first quarter outputs in Tiger Stadium. Jayden Daniels has been very efficient. Defensively, we played really well through three quarters. I thought our attention to detail lapsed late and then special teams was outstanding with a blocked punt. A good victory but now everything is heightened as we get into SEC play.”LSU Head Coach Brian Kelly on Southern Win
It did not take long for Kelly to turn the page and focus on the next task at hand, which is the team’s conference opener against Mississippi State at home. For Kelly, his first SEC game will bring a lot of challenges, especially for its defense with Mike Leach and his high flying Air Raid offense coming to town.
“It is a precision offense. It is extremely well coached. You need patience and persistence on defense. If you try to disrupt it in one fashion, It’s going to come down to our attention to detail. We are going to have to tackle really well. This puts the tenants of defensive football on display and you got to be in positional awareness. It’s like the triple option. You have to take care of your assignment and do your job otherwise you are going to get exposed.”Brian Kelly on Mississippi State Offense
The same can be said for the Mississippi State defense, which also brings a lot of challenges to the LSU offense.
“They have a lot of juniors and seniors playing a 3-3-5 defense. They’re salty. They’ve got some really good players. They play hard. They’re well coached. From a defensive standpoint, the guy that stands out is Tyrus Wheat. You are going to see him at a number of different positions whether he is at linebacker or he can play standing up. Obviously, he is coming back home and is a guy that can wreck your day if you don’t know where he is.”Brian Kelly on Mississippi State defense
From that point on, Coach Kelly opened up to questions. The first question asked was about getting John Emery Jr. back to the team after serving his two game suspension.
“We’re excited about getting him back. It’s been a long run. He has worked hard to get to this point. But let’s be careful as he has not played in a while. We can’t put a lot of expectation on him in his first game back.”Brian Kelly on John Emery Jr.’s return
Coach Kelly also confirmed that BJ Ojulari is expected to be back this week after not playing last week against Southern.
A huge positive of the Tigers’ offense is the play of Jayden Daniels as he is the most efficient quarterback in the SEC after two weeks of play.
“He’s extremely coachable. He has three years of starting experience, and you can sense that when he comes to the sideline.”Brian Kelly on Jayden Daniels
Kelly was also impressed with how Daniels was able to keep his eyes down the field before tucking the ball and running, especially on the touchdown throw to Jack Bech.
“If we can continue to see that, he becomes very difficult to contain.”Brian Kelly on Daniels’ progression
With Daniels only playing one quarter, it allowed Garrett Nussmeier to see some extended playing time. Nussmeier showed some big time flashes, but at the same time, also threw two interceptions.
“You never want a moment where you turn the ball over. He’s got to take care of the football, and we had a conversation about that, but, he did some really good things and we’ve got to build off of that.”Brian Kelly on Garrett Nussmeier’s performance
One of the earlier notes before kickoff against Southern was how the starting offensive line changed putting Garrett Dellinger at left guard, Charles Turner at center, and Miles Frazier at right tackle. For now, this looks like the starting offensive line combination moving forward, but there are some other players that are working their way into more playing time including standout freshman Emery Jones.
Along with updating Emery and Ojulari’s status for this week’s game, Kelly also updated Ohio State transfer Sevyn Banks’ status after not playing so far this season and where his role will be once he does return.
“Sevyn Banks is close to being ready. He wanted to play in the opener. We didn’t need him for Southern, but it is all hands on deck versus Mississippi State. The expectation is that he is going to be dressed out for Saturday. Hopefully, he’s in the rotation.”Brian Kelly on Sevyn Banks’ status
A question that was answered Saturday was if Malik Nabers would continue receiving punts or would the coaching staff move to somebody else. Well, the answer came as a surprise as Gregory Clayton was the player that saw starting action returning punts against Southern.
“Frank Wilson had a lot to do with bringing him in as a transfer. He’s from Louisiana obviously. He’s a guy that can come in here and have a chance to earn a scholarship. He finds himself in week two returning punts. He’s a pretty good receiver as well. We knew we had a great player coming in, but he’s entering into a field of wide receivers where there’s great depth, but again, another man from the state of Louisiana. There’s so many great players in this state. I’m just glad that we were aware of him as a transfer and that he is able to help our program.”Brian Kelly on Gregory Clayton
I got the opportunity to ask Coach Kelly about how he thought Saivion Jones, Desmond Little, and Harold Perkins played in a starting role with Ali Gaye being out for the first half and BJ Ojulari being out for the game. This is what he said.
“Saivion Jones has been consistent and from a job assignment as good as we have doing his job play in and play out. Des hasn’t played a lot. It’s good to get him out there. There’s some things that he needs to clean up in his game, but he is athletic and active. You are also looking at guys that haven’t played a lot of football so it was good to get him out there, and Harold Perkins is playing in our nickel package. Quite frankly, he didn’t have much time to get ready for that role, but he is such a great kid, accepted it, and used his athleticism to really help us when we were pinched for personnel at that position.”Brian Kelly on how Saivion Jones, Desmond Little, and Harold Perkins played on the edge
After Micah Baskerville was originally supposed to be suspended for the first two games of the season, Baskerville was cleared on Thursday leading up to the Florida State game. Now, that he has won his appeal, Baskerville played loose and free this past Saturday, which resulted in his big game against Southern where he had a blocked punt and an interception returned for a touchdown.
“We appealed that suspension and as you know, he was cleared to play. We got him actively involved right away. He was a guy also like John, kept with us, hoping we would get good news and that we would be able to play him. We kept him active with us and he’s got an unique skillset. He’s really good in pass coverage. He’s really smart. It doesn’t mean he can’t stop the run. He’s not built to be a big time plugger, but he will stick his nose in there. He’s not afraid and we saw that. His blocked punt was teach taped. It was awesome. He bent the low hand out and took the ball off the foot of the punter. Some younger players would run into the punter in that situation. He’s a smart, savvy football player that makes us better when he’s on the field.”Brian Kelly on Micah Baskerville
After only giving up 61 yards passing through the air and going through one other game against Florida State, the secondary has had a very small sample size leading into its biggest challenge of the season so far.
“I think the corners have held out pretty well. Their play has been consistent. They’ve played the ball well in the air. I thought our tackling got better. Greg Brooks playing back at the safety position has enhanced our communication to the level that we felt really good about it. Putting Jay Ward down in a natural nickel position. I think the pieces were moved in the right place after that evaluation of Florida State where we felt like we need to get better. Communication on the back end was better, corner play continues to be solid, but they will certainly be challenged at a higher level this Saturday.”Brian Kelly on secondary play leading into Mississippi State
Brian Kelly concluded the press conference by having some fun with the media and making sure that everybody paid their tab.
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On Gridiron Football USA, there will be a lot more coverage for the Tigers this week. Later today, I break down some of the positives from the Southern game and how they can translate that success this Saturday against Mississippi State. Also, make sure to check out The Chase With Jace on Wednesday night at 7:00 P.M. as myself and Marcus Randall break down the Southern victory while looking ahead to Mississippi State. Below, check out our LSU vs. Southern photo book with all of the photos being taken by Geralyn Thomassee.