LSU is preparing for Florida this week as two evenly matched programs in their respective processes. They both welcome first-time coaches in the SEC, and each team is off to a rocky start with two losses a piece in the first half of the season.
“The margin for error is so small that you could be doing some good things but if you’re not doing everything well, you can’t hide from it,” Kelly said. “You’ll get exposed. Average is gonna get you beat around here. You’ve gotta play really well and do things that allow you to win. You can’t beat yourselves and this past weekend we did too many things that put us in a difficult position to win. The SEC heightens that on a play by play basis.”
There’s no question that if LSU wants to be more competitive this season, the offense, defense, and special teams all must execute better. Of all the issues that have plagued this team, the common theme this season has been the Tigers beating themselves more than the other team is just outplaying them.
That wasn’t the case against Tennessee, which proved to be a mismatch from the opening kick because special teams essentially helped spot the Volunteers’ offense 10 points in the game’s first five minutes. The fight and grit that Kelly has so often alluded to this year can’t be outweighed by the penalties, troubling decision making, and poor execution that has helped lead to this 4-2 start.
But this group remains confidential and is a locker room that refuses to turn on each other as the team fights through some of these adverse situations. Recent performances have struck players’ only meetings in the last two weeks, something that Kelly is supportive of and encourages as he tries to make this a more player-led a program in the long run.
“You can have a lot of emotions with the loss as we had. The most important emotion is that this team cares. They care about the things necessary that go to winning,” Kelly said. “That’s what they’re asking. They wanna know what they can do to be better, and to continue to work towards our process of being excellent.
“I applaud them, I think it’s outstanding that they have the right emotions, it’s not one where they’re pointing fingers. They want to be accountable and be the best versions of themselves. That’s a good thing.”
Where this team goes from here is hard to know. There are some winnable games over the final five SEC matchups of the regular season that can help fuel momentum into next season and get that culture to a more stable position by the time the year ends.
It’s on the players and coaches alike to continue to do everything they can to make it a more balanced, well-coached roster that can execute the game plans for four quarters.