Few first-year coaches have had as much success as LSU’s Brian Kelly. The former Notre Dame helmsman bounced back from a slow start to his tenure to turn the Tigers into one of the hottest teams in the nation. They have already reached nine wins and secured their spot in the SEC Championship, their first appearance in that game since 2019’s historic squad.
Kelly, who’s fit in Baton Rouge was questioned upon his hiring, has exceeded most expectations. Former LSU safety Tyrann Mathieu, now in the NFL with the New Orleans Saints, is impressed.
“I think they underestimated him really in everything that he’s been able to do at all the programs. He’s been that,” Mathieu said in an interview with Josh Pate. “I think my expectation for him in year one was, how can we find a way to win 10 games? So I think he’s on his way there. Obviously it’s so much expectations, such a high standard — wearing the purple and gold and being in charge of that team, that program. But I think coach Kelly has, you know, answered the call. I think he has a long way to go. I think he’ll continue to answer.”
LSU is just one game away from reaching the 10-win mark with just a single game left in the regular season. Fortunately for the Tigers, that game comes against a Texas A&M team that has struggled this year.
The Aggies are set to have their worst regular season since 2008 under former coach Mike Sherman. They are the only team in the SEC with just one conference win, behind Vanderbilt, Missouri, and Auburn.
Even so, LSU is not taking its SEC West foe lightly.
“It’s important for us because we’re building something within our program. The UAB game might not’ve been as important to other people outside of the walls but inside the walls that was a huge game for us in terms of doing our job, the way the job needed to be done,” Kelly said. “That was really a big hurdle for us and this is another one. Going on the road against a talented team that has nothing to lose and you have to play well. This is their (Texas A&M) game, last one they play this year against LSU, their rival. They’ll play their best against us and we’ll have to meet and exceed in our play.”
LSU stunned the nation by hiring Kelly, as the Tigers poached him from Notre Dame. Kelly spent 11 years with the Fighting Irish and is the program’s all-time winningest coach, passing legendary coach Knute Rockne. He also led Notre Dame to one BCS National Championship game and two College Football Playoff appearances.