March 28, 2023

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The LSU Tigers Take On The Southern Jaguars In Historic First Battle For Baton Rouge Bragging Rights

Tonight’s matchup will be a historic first as the two college football programs based in Baton Rouge, Louisiana will face off against each other for the first time ever. Here is everything that you need to know in regards to the big in-city matchup, which will be held in a sold-out Tiger Stadium. Kickoff is set for 6:39 P.M. on the SEC Network and the LSU Sports Radio Network.

LSU head coach Brian Kelly and the Tigers will try to bounce back after losing to Florida State in the season opener last week 24-23 in the Caesar’s Superdome. After the Seminoles took control of the football game for three quarters, the Tigers came alive in the fourth quarter scoring two touchdowns on the last two drives of the game. The Tigers came crawling all the way back to score on the final play of regulation with a touchdown throw from Jayden Daniels to Jaray Jenkins. However, all the joy and the emulation for Tigers fans came to a stunning halt when the ensuing extra point was blocked. It was not the way that Kelly wanted to start the new era at LSU, but the Tigers have moved on and are now focusing on the task ahead in the home opener tonight.

“As a head football coach, and somebody that’s been in the business as long as I have, I’m really excited about this game because of the historical perspective and how important it is.”

“Bringing them both together is an incredible thing for the city. This doesn’t happen. How many teams get together from the same city? UCLA and USC? I can’t think of many others.”

LSU head coach Brian Kelly on importance of matchup against Southern

It has been a long time coming to have this matchup between one of the most recognizable college football brands in the country and one of the most accomplished HBCU football programs ever with both schools only being separated by eight miles. Despite being right down the road from each other, this was a matchup that not a lot of people expected to ever happen.

Southern head coach Eric Dooley also commented about what this matchup means for the university and the city of Baton Rouge.

“It means a great deal. I keep going back to it in 2003 when we had the Parade of Champions. That’s the last time I saw the city come together as one. You couldn’t tell who was wearing blue and gold and who was wearing purple and gold because they were enjoying it.”

“We pride ourselves on preparing our student athletes throughout the whole week, and that’s what you live to play this game for to have a crowd that we are going to have this Saturday so I think the moment is not going to be big and the stage is not going to be big. We just have to play football for 60 minutes.”

Southern head coach Eric Dooley on playing in Tiger Stadium

The Southern Jaguars begin year number one under Eric Dooley, but Coach Dooley is very familiar with winning championships at the Bluff under the tutelage of Pete Richardson as Dooley was a part of the Jaguars’ two HBCU national championships in 1997 and 2003 along with four SWAC Western Division titles in 1997, 1998, 1999, and 2003. After taking Prairie View A&M to a SWAC Western Division title last season, Dooley is looking to bring some of that winning magic in competing for SWAC and HBCU national championships back to Southern.

The Jaguars are off to a great start after blowing out Florida Memorial in one of the most eye opening scores from Week 1 defeating the Lions by a whopping 86-0 score. The Jaguars dominated from start to finish rushing for 397 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground. Quarterback BeSean McCray made his Southern debut coming in as a JUCO transfer from Hinds Community College accounting for three total touchdowns. Running back Jerrod Sims also accounted for three total touchdowns during the contest. As the offense scored on its first six drives, the defense was just as dominant for the Jaguars giving up only 138 total yards of offense and scoring two touchdowns on that side of the football with a Jordan Lewis 12 yard fumble recovery and a 50 yard interception return from Glen Brown.

As perfect as the game went for the Jaguars, the Tigers are still the heavy favorite after dropping their first game of the year. Despite a lot of the team’s flaws in the first game of the season, LSU still had a chance to force the game in overtime at the end. A lot of it had to do with the performance put on by Arizona State transfer Jayden Daniels, who made his LSU debut last week, and made history while doing so by becoming only the second LSU quarterback to throw for over 200 yards and run for over 100 yards in one game joining only Joe Burrow. He also completed 26 of 35 passes for two touchdowns with no interceptions. With last week’s impressive debut, Daniels is named as the team’s offensive captain for tonight’s game joining the Tigers’ three defensive captains.

Wide receiver Jaray Jenkins was a late game hero for the Tigers scoring the two late touchdowns including the clutch touchdown scored in the final play of regulation. Mason Taylor also showed some bright moments as a receiver with five catches for 42 yards including the play that Taylor went out of bounds to set up the late touchdown throw to Jenkins.

Defensively, the Tigers had a lot of setbacks including on the defensive line losing Maason Smith for the season due to a freakish torn ACL injury after celebrating a great defensive play and losing Ali Gaye due to a blatant targeting penalty he made in the second half. Because of the targeting rule, Gaye would have to miss the first half of tonight’s game. Fortunately, Mekhi Wingo stepped up on the inside with six tackles and a fumble recovery to set up the Tigers’ 99 yard drive at the end of the Florida State game.

“It’s hard to compare anybody to Maason Smith … his size, his athleticism, but Mekhi Wingo is going to be Mekhi Wingo, and what he does is extremely effective as a football player. He gets now a bigger share of that work.”

Brian Kelly on LSU defensive line depth

Safeties Jay Ward and Major Burns were active in last week’s loss as both players had eight tackles last week. After suffering five special teams miscues that ultimately decided the Tigers’ fate last week, the Tigers will be working to significantly improve despite last week’s rough showing.

Finally, this is also a first for LSU head coach Brian Kelly as he will be coaching his first game in Tiger Stadium.

““To be in a home stadium like this, where it’s obviously partisan and it’s LSU, I’m pretty excited about it.”

Brian Kelly on first game coaching in Tiger Stadium

Key Matchup To Watch: LSU Offensive Line vs. Southern Defensive Front

For the second straight week, I pick the LSU offensive line against the opponent’s defensive line. Last week, it was the Florida State defensive line that dominated LSU’s offensive line as the Tigers running back could only muster 39 yards on the ground. The front five also struggled in pass protection as Daniels had to escape from the pocket and make a play with his legs for the majority of the game. Now, the Tigers get another difficult challenge in facing a very tough Southern defensive front that has two FCS All-Americans on its front.

Key Defensive Player To Watch For Southern: LB Jordan Lewis

In speaking of that defensive line for the Jaguars, the group is led by the team’s best player in FCS preseason All-American Jordan Lewis. At 6’3, 223 pounds, Lewis is plenty good enough to be on the LSU roster. Lewis is going to give both tackles Will Campbell and Cam Wire plenty of problems as he is a former Buck Buchanan Award winner with 77 tackles, 32.5 tackles for loss, 21 sacks, and four forced fumbles in only 26 career games. If the Tigers offensive line can prevent both Lewis and his counterpart in three time All-SWAC defensive lineman Jason Dumas from making plays in the backfield, this will be a big step forward in the right direction for the Tigers’ inexperienced offensive line.

Key Offensive Player To Watch For Southern: QB BeSean McCray

BeSean McCray made his Southern debut last week after he originally came in from Hinds Community College and looked good accounting for three touchdowns including a 65 yard touchdown run. McCray won the quarterback job for the Jaguars over the offseason and his big play ability is a reason why. His ability to make big plays as a dual threat quarterback has to be accounted for this LSU defense that struggled to make tackles against another dual threat quarterback in Florida State’s Jordan Travis.

Key Offensive Player To Watch For LSU: WR Malik Nabers

Malik Nabers had a rough go last week muffing two punts on special teams. Coach Kelly and special teams coach Brian Polian made the decision to start Nabers at kick returner and punt returner after I asked Coach Kelly the question last week because of his playmaking ability. It would be interesting to see if he will get another opportunity to return and showcase why he won the job in the first place. Then, there is also what he can showcase as a receiver. I love the fact that the coaches went right back to Nabers in the passing game following the second muffed punt. Nabers is one of the Tigers’ most talented receivers and it will be such a confidence booster if the sophomore comes away with a big game in Tiger Stadium tonight.

Key Defensive Player To Watch For LSU: DT Mekhi Wingo

With Maason Smith’s season ending before it really got started, it was a huge blow to a defensive front that was expected to be one of the best in the entire country. Missouri transfer and freshman All-SEC selection Mekhi Wingo did a fantastic job filling in with six tackles and a fumble recovery. He, Jacobian Guilliry, and Bryce Langston will have more of a role now that one of the team’s best defensive players is done for the season.

Final Score Prediction: LSU 45 Southern 13

Early on, the Southern Jaguars will give the LSU Tigers all that they can handle, but the talent and the depth of the LSU Tigers squad will be too much for the Jaguars to overcome in the end. LSU’s speed at the skill positions will make a lot of plays and most importantly, will improve on a lot of their issues from last week being special teams, pass protection, and tackling. The Tigers will have a much faster and efficient start on both sides of the football after starting slow last week.

LSU Game Notes:

  • LSU enters the Southern game having won 9 straight and 58 of its last 59 games against non-conference opponents in Tiger Stadium.
  • LSU has also won 34 consecutive games against Louisiana opponents, which includes wins over McNeese (34-7) and UL-Monroe (27-14) last year.
  • Jayden Daniels became the first QB in LSU history to pass for 200 yards and rush for 100 yards in a game decided in regulation. Joe Burrow did it (270 passing, 100 rushing) in a 7OT game at Texas A&M in 2018.
  • Daniels capped his LSU debut connecting of 26-of-35 passes for 209 yards and 2 TDs and added 114 rushing yards on 16 carries. He averaged 7.1 yards per carry.
  • Daniels’ 114 rushing yards tie Lyn Amedee (vs. Tulane, 1961) for sixth most in LSU history by a quarterback.
  • WR Jaray Jenkins had his third career game with at least 2 TD receptions in the opener vs. Florida State. Other 2 came last year vs. Florida (3) and Texas A&M (2).
  • Daniels completed pass to 9 different receivers vs. Florida State with 4 players each catching 5 passes (Jenkins 5 for 46, TDs, Brian Thomas 5 for 44), Mason Taylor (5 for 42) and Malik Nabers (5 for 34).
  • The Florida State contest marked only the second time since 1958 LSU opened a season with a new head coach and a new starter at quarterback. Last time it happened came in 1980 vs. Florida State (HC Jerry Stovall, QB Alan Risher).
  • LSU’s final two drives of the Florida State game combined for 26 plays, 174 yards and a pair of touchdowns over a 6-minute, 17-second span.  
  • Defensively, LSU’s held Florida State to 2-of-4 on redzone chances, which included recovering a fumble at the 1-yard line with 1:20 remaining in the game. LSU responded by going 99-yards in 11 plays to cut the Florida State lead to 24-23 on the final play of regulation.
  • LSU safety duo of Jay Ward and Major Burns combined for 16 tackles, 2 tackles for loss and a pass breakup.
  • In the season-opener, 7 players earned their first start in an LSU uniform (QB Daniels, LT Campbell, LG Frazier, RB Cain, CB Richardson, CB Garner, and Nickel Brooks).
  • Dating back to last year’s Texas Bowl, LSU has scored on its final play of regulation in consecutive games (81-yard TD pass vs. Kansas State as time expired, 2-yard TD pass vs. Florida State as time expired).

The Last Word: Coach Brian Kelly and LSU players talk about the Southern game.

LSU Head Coach Brian Kelly:

LSU WR Jaray Jenkins:

LSU DT Mekhi Wingo:

LSU Center Garrett Dellinger:

LSU CB Jarrick Bernard-Converse:

If you missed the show earlier, here is “The Chase With Jace” show as Jace and former LSU quarterback Marcus Randall recap LSU and Florida State while also previewing LSU and Southern. If you haven’t done so already, make sure to subscribe and hit the bell in order to get notified on when we post every video!

Make sure to come back here at the conclusion of tonight’s game between LSU and Southern for a game recap!

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