December 3, 2022

LSU Head Coach Brian Kelly Talks About Taking On First SEC Road Challenge Against Auburn

In Monday’s LSU press conference, Brian Kelly talked about taking on his first true SEC road test as the Tigers’ head coach, and that it would prove to be a different challenge than what the team previously had in the first month of the season.

We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us. This month will tell us a lot, right? We’ve got an SEC slate in front of us over the next four weeks, which will challenge us to a new level. We’ll certainly find out even more about our grit and what kind of football team this will continue to grow to be.”

Brian Kelly on SEC gauntlet coming up

“Now we get into, obviously, the SEC over the next month. Two games on the road, two at home, and we begin with Auburn. I think the first thing is that routines will stay the same other than we’re going to get on a plane, but we’ll be in a stadium that will not be pro-LSU.”

Brian Kelly on first true road game as LSU head coach

The Tigers have built some momentum as the team is currently on a three game winning streak. For Coach Kelly, not only the wins are starting to pile up, but the team is forming good habits that will help them along the way during this stretch.

“So, I’ve been really proud of the way they have embraced change and done the things that we’ve asked them to do to become more consistent on a day-to-day basis and within our process and their preparation and their mindset, their habits, the way they think. We’ve been able to make the progress necessary to have a modest winning streak, and this is modest.”

“I just wanted to make sure that from my perspective that this win this past weekend against a New Mexico team was significant in that we built some consistency with a group that has been willing to follow a whole new pattern. It’s been enjoyable.”

Brian Kelly on three game winning stretch

The Tigers’ first challenge in this SEC gauntlet that stretches from Saturday all the way to November 12th is the Auburn Tigers that are currently 3-1 on the season after coming off an overtime victory against Missouri.

“Auburn has some talented football players offensively. Both backs are outstanding. Bigsby, obviously, he is a three-year starter, over 2,000 career rushing yards, 19 touchdowns. I think that’s kind of for us when we’re watching film, the running backs are outstanding players.”

“Ashford at quarterback started last week against Missouri. He, too, is a great runner. That’s going to be our biggest concern is to keep him in wraps in terms of running the football. He is very capable. He is a transfer from Oregon. Extremely gifted athlete. Again, I think from our perspective, a guy that can throw it, but more importantly, a dual-threat quarterback that is dangerous running the football.”

“Outstanding receiving corps and a defense that has a guy that’s a game-wrecker in Derick Hall. He is a guy that you’re going to have to find. We’ll have to game-plan and make sure we know where he is. Riley, outstanding linebacker. Again, a football team that’s playing at home, coming off its SEC win against Missouri in overtime. It will be a great challenge for our football team.”

Brian Kelly on Auburn

The Auburn Tigers have shown to play two different quarterbacks this season with opposite skill sets in Robby Ashford and TJ Finley.

“I think you always have to keep an eye on whether Finley plays as well. Certainly he gives you the throwing end of things, so we’ll have to prepare for both. We don’t have any firsthand information that one is playing over the other, but we’ll be prepared for either one.”

Brian Kelly on preparing for both Auburn quarterbacks

Kelly also updated the media on a couple of different injuries heading into the week.

“Jayden, no residual effect from Saturday. He will be able to practice. Let’s see, Jay Ward feeling really good. I think he is a go for Tuesday. We’ll probably limit his workload on Tuesday, but he should be able to go. Armoni, it will be a day-to-day situation with him.”

Brian Kelly on injury updates

With Ward and Major Burns being out this past Saturday, there has been a lot of constant movement in the secondary and even though Burns is out for a couple of weeks, the secondary does have good news of not only Ward returning, but also Joe Foucha coming back to the team after his four game suspension.

You would like a little more continuity. I think Matt and Kerry have done a good job of communicating what we need to do back there. I think it’s going to be a little bit easier with Joe Foucha in terms of he is an experienced player, so it was a little bit more difficult when we had to move Jarrick back there because you didn’t have an experienced safety.”

“As we move forward now with Jay Ward probably coming back this week and being healthy and getting Joe, you’ve got experience back there. In one instance we would like a little more continuity, but on the positive side with Brooks, Foucha, and Jay Ward, you’ve got experience.”

Brian Kelly on rotating starting lineup in the secondary

With the news of Hurricane Ian approaching, Coach Kelly and his staff is carefully monitoring the situation.

” Yeah, no doubt. We’ve talked about a game plan in terms of what it might look like. Hopefully that’s going to pass through.”

“We’re going to get probably some rain of some kind, and that will be our first time in that kind of element. It’s a grass situation, so you put those plans together relative to what that would look like if, in fact, we did get hit with some severe rain.”

Coach Kelly on monitoring Hurricane Ian

Jayden Daniels is continuing to improve on staying in the pocket and finding receivers in the progression as the New Mexico game was a big game for him in that instance.

“There are a couple of things. Decisiveness is starting to be part of the vocabulary instead of being hesitant, and that comes with knowledge of the offense.”

“I think the other thing is that he has become a lot quicker in his setup. I think I mentioned this quick feet, but slowing down and not rushing through progressions.”

“I think one of the bigger plays in his development was the dig that he threw to Jaray Jenkins in the red zone. That was his fourth receiver through a progression.”

“Those are the kind of things you’re looking for in terms of development of a quarterback, and we’re starting to see that as well as the screen to Malik Nabers, how quickly that ball comes out. I think a little bit of everything was coming together, and the word I would use is just he is becoming more comfortable and more decisive.”

Brian Kelly on Jayden Daniels’ growth as a quarterback

Last week was also the first start at punt returner for Jack Bech, who showed that he was fearless returning punts against the Lobos.

” Fearless. Fearless. We’ll work on a couple of things where fearless shouldn’t be always the number one criteria for returning punts. We want some decision-making in that as well, but that’s how Jack plays, right?”

“He is at his best when he is not worried about any factors other than competing and getting the ball in his hands, and it’s fun to watch, right? That’s just the kind of player he is. You can see what kind of impact he can have in our punt return game.”

“Look, the trickle-down is the other ten guys, they want to block for him. That is an added incentive when you have a punt returner that can break it. It adds a great energy to the entire group.”

Brian Kelly on Jack Bech’s performance at punt returner

Going back to Joe Foucha, the coaching staff is confident that he will just fit right in considering that he is coming off a suspension and not an injury.

“Yes, he has been actively involved. He has been involved in any articulation between our offense and defense that hasn’t involved game plan, which is quite a bit.”

“Every day we’ll have some 11-on-11 work where there is no, hey, we’re getting ready for New Mexico or we’re getting ready for Mississippi State. He is involved in that. He is in our defensive structures.”

“When we start to over the past month when we got ready for team time for our opponent, he would come over on to scout. He was a pain to deal with because he was so good playing so hard as a scout team member that he made us better, so I have been able to firsthand see his action on a day-to-day basis, and he will be ready to play right away.”

Brian Kelly on getting Joe Foucha ready to play against Auburn

Kelly was then asked about Kayshon Boutte and if he would be available for Auburn, and Kelly’s response was that he will be ready to play this week.

With BJ Ojulari resting, Harold Perkins got some starting action and has continued to show why he was so highly regarded coming out of high school.

“Here’s the thing with Harold. He is going to flash because of his skill set. I mean, he is twitchy. He is fast. He has all those tools that are going to allow him to show.”

“Then, Matt is doing a great job of keeping it in the easiest form within a defense. He has just gotten here, so to give him the entire playbook is not fair to him, so Matt has given him pieces of the playbook that allows him to go play fast because that’s his best trait, but he is learning.”

“I’ll tell you what, he is so coachable. That’s the great part about it. He comes to the sideline. He wants to know what he needs to do better each and every snap.”

“We’re really pleased with his progress, but I think what we’re more pleased with is what he is doing off the field in the classroom and then how coachable he is.”

Brian Kelly on Harold Perkins

I then asked Coach Kelly of what he thought about the offensive line to this point of the season and if he feels that they made any strides run blocking. This is what he had to say.

“Yeah, I don’t know that it was our banner day this past weekend. That’s a tough defense. They’re standing up. They’re moving around. There’s so much movement. O-linemen want to know that what they see, they’re going to hit. That wasn’t the case on Saturday. The guy in front of you wasn’t going to be there on the snap of the ball. That takes a little bit of, I would say, the aggressiveness away from your offensive line.”

“We won’t have that this weekend. They’re going to have to put their hand in the dirt. They’re going to have to get off the ball. They’re going to have to move people against their will, and I think you’ll see a good indication over the next month of this offensive line really having to get after it.”

Brian Kelly on offensive line

Specifically, one of the changes the Tigers made on the offensive line the last couple of weeks was putting Charles Turner at center. This week will prove to be a big test for the Tigers center.

“Yeah, I think it’s a really good question. First of all, he is a great communicator. He knows what he is doing up front. He is getting people in the right place, but it’s going to get harder. It’s going to get harder.”

“The competition is going to be such that he is going to be in the mix each and every week. He knows, and he is up for the challenge. Again, I think we’re putting him in a situation where he has two guards next to him that are big guys. Big, physical guys.”

“The center is always working in combination. You know, most centers today are not the biggest. They’re usually the smartest, and they’re usually guys that can move, and Charles can do those things for us.”

Brian Kelly on Charles Turner

Finally, Coach Kelly updated the kicker situation by stating that Damian Ramos will continue to be the team’s starting placekicker.

“I have full confidence that he will be our field goal extra point kicker. You saw that we went and made a change on kickoffs, and that might be the case. I haven’t made that decision yet. I’ll talk to Brian as the week goes on because that obviously impacts a redshirt situation. We’ll see how that plays out during the week, but I have the utmost confidence in his ability.”

“There’s some technical things that he has to clean up. He gets a little bit too fast to the ball on his kickoffs. He gets his shoulders over himself. Those are technical things that we can clean up, but he has a great mindset for his PATs and field goals, so I have 100 percent confidence in him.”

Brian Kelly on the kicking game

Make sure to keep up with everything going on at Gridiron Football as tomorrow, I will post my takeaways from LSU’s victory against New Mexico.

To check out the entire press conference from Coach Kelly, click below! If you haven’t done so already, make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel and hit the bell in order to get notified on when we post all of our videos.

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