5 questions that LSU has raised after 3 games

LSU seems to be getting better.

Certainly, it has a long way to go before becoming a factor in the SEC West race.

But teams are supposed to improve from the week to week.

Overall, the Tigers have done that. But the improvement hasn’t been as dramatic as head coach Brian Kelly would prefer.

The Tigers began the season with a disappointing 24-23 loss to Florida State.

Then they whipped Southern 65-17, though it was difficult to discern if that represented meaningful progress or just superior talent producing a predictable result.

Then came the 31-16 home victory against Mississippi State last Saturday in Tiger Stadium.

It was a good start to the SEC season, though it was an incomplete performance.

Kelly talked on Monday about becoming more “consistent” and producing “a complete performance.”

LSU seems to be getting closer to those objectives as it prepares to host New Mexico in a nonconference game Saturday night.

But the Tigers have a ways to go if they’re going to have an impact in the SEC West once they return to conference play at Auburn next week.

Here are 5 questions they have raised that still need to be answered:

1. Is the offensive line evolving?

The Tigers have started 3 different units in 3 games. We’re not sure what the lineup will look like on Saturday.

The line struggled in the opener but played better as the game wore on. It played much better a week later, but that might have been merely a result of a weaker opponent.

It struggled again initially against Mississippi State, but again it got better as time wore on.

What’s next?

The offense isn’t going to be very successful unless it operates behind a line that plays up to SEC standards for 60 minutes week in and week out.

Can this group do that?

No one knows.

2. Are the special teams adequate?

Not great. Not good. Just adequate.

First things first.

What we know is that they have clearly been inadequate to this point: muffed punts, poor decisions, poor coverage, etc.

If the special teams don’t improve dramatically, they will be exposed even worse during the heart of the SEC season than they already have been.

Improvement from the special teams is very much on Kelly’s radar, but after 3 games, it remains elusive.

3. Is the defense really good?

If LSU is going to emerge as a factor in the SEC, the defense is going to have to be really good.

It might be.

It has been good already.

It had trouble stopping Florida State on 3rd downs, and it had a bad 1st series against Mississippi State.

Otherwise it has been very good.

It got better as the game against Florida State went along, and it disrupted a good Mississippi State offense after that 1st drive for a touchdown.

The defense is probably going to have to be really good while the offense figures some stuff out.

There are signs that it might be up to the challenge.

4. Is the passing game going to be special?

The most talented position on this team is the wide receivers.

If the Tigers are able to get the ball to their receivers with regularity, the offense can be really good.

But that requires adequate pass protection, good decision-making and accurate passing from the quarterback, and consistent route-running and pass catching by the receivers.

So far, all of that stuff has not happened in unison with any consistency. But the potential is there.

The emergence of the passing game is the factor that has the best opportunity to raise this team’s ceiling.

5. Can Jayden Daniels survive?

The brightest spot for the team thus far has been Daniels’ performance — his toughness, athleticism, decision-making and leadership.

But too often, those traits have been demonstrated while he has ad-libbed during plays that seemed doomed, that turned into positive plays only after he has taken off running and exposed himself to a lot of hits. Too many hits to be sustainable.

Sooner or later, LSU has to do a better job of protecting Daniels, even as he uses his gifts to elevate an otherwise limited offense.

View Comments

  • Special teams are not even at the adequate state yet. That’s probably the most disappointing thing about this team. Pollian is only the STC because Kelly thinks he is a good recruiter and they have to put him somewhere. We have to be the worst in the conference here, even though there has been some improvement. Lots to go.

  • I don’t think the passing game will be special, but I think they can get to good. Daniels has some special traits, but he doesn’t appear great at making his progressions. That’s what’s needed to be great.

  • I was pleasantly surprised at the play of the OLine as the MSU game went along. Having two freshmen tackles start and not give up any sacks was very encouraging.

  • The OL played well against Miss State. The two true freshman tackles held their own and gave up zero sacks. Charles Turner at Center is proving to be the right and best decision. Should have been him in the opener.

    The better the OL gels and plays together, the better the offense will get, and that includes Daniels' ability to get the WRs the ball. Looks like when Bradford returns, he will be running 2s behind Jones at RT.

    Speaking of Daniels, he NEEDS to SLIDE!! So he can prevent taking too many unnecessary hits. Defenses are wanting to tee off on him, so CBK needs to address this going forward.

    Outside of the first half vs FSU, and first series vs Miss State, the defense is playing exceptionally well. I don't think anyone thought that they would, especially after losing Smith. We'll see how the DL holds up at Auburn in 2 weeks, but I believe they'll be up for the challenge. If Penn State was, LSU definitely should be.

  • LSU has some very good players on defense. Maybe not as many as years past, but enough. I am just not sure about Daniels. I don't think he can be consistent enough in the passing game if/when someone shuts down the running game. I could be wrong. I think Kelly needs another recruiting class or 2 to get them back where they want to be, and a better O-line.

    • I can agree with that.
      Our two freshman OTs are a really good place to start. Another true freshman is the backup Center. The OL is being recruited well. It's on Davis to turn them into key performers.
      I think Daniels is better than being given credit for. He is not forcing the ball potentially resulting in turnovers. While Young is a very good QB, he has committed unforced errors while Daniels has lost the only fumble/turnover he has had thus far. He may not light it up with downfield throws half the game, but what he is doing is keeping defenses honest... especially when the tempo is faster. He needs to read back shoulder throws better, but he is getting much better at going through progressions before he takes off running. I noticed he missed a couple opportunities with open WRs, but I expect it will get cleaned up.
      I have nothing bad to say about the defense. They are playing better than people expected... especially ones who wrote them off before Miss State.
      They'll continue to grow, but I think by 2024 you will see Kelly playing for a national title.

  • The defense has been very good, the offense has been good.
    Last week every person that had a voice picked MSU and their “troublesome “ offense. Said MSU should be ranked. LSU shut them down. Not just a little bit. A lot. Time for some respect

    • Beat AR and you'll be ranked or win the next couple. Jury is still out on MSU and how good they may or may not be. Will LSU offense be elite by seasons end, probably not but they can be good enough win some games. We still haven't gotten a great feel for who Bama is this season. The Texas game with them has to be encouraging to LSU.

Published by
Les East

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