Friday before number 6 it was 3 o’clock LSU football matchup against uab And the first-year Tigers coach was talking to his players and praising their improvement over the first 10 weeks of the season.
“Mental strength is accountability for me and our team,” Kelly said. “It’s the ability to trust your teammates and yourself … to do your job the right way when it’s needed.”
But Kelly couldn’t explain the progress to the media until the Tigers (9-2) accomplished another task on Saturday. And so that’s exactly what they did, getting the job done in one 41–10 win for LSU over UAB (5-6).
“I take great pride in my mental toughness and ability to do it the right way,” Kelly said.
Kelly’s Friday meetings are a weekly tradition called “Mental Edge”. This isn’t just meant to help LSU players focus on the job at hand, but also to prevent them from becoming overly excited or anxious about upcoming games.
LSU linebacker Greg Penn III said, “Basically, (Kelly) just tells us the things we need to focus on right now and not look ahead.”
The pep talk was needed this week.
LSU (No. 7 AFCA Coaches/No. 6 AP) is two weeks away from playing the SEC Championship Game against No. 1 Georgia. The Tigers remain in the College Football Playoff hunt entering Saturday’s matchup praised for their recent performance and predictions about a promising future.
Those are all more than valid distractions. With rain, 40-degree temperatures, and a mostly empty Tiger Stadium and Saturday, it could easily have been a dull performance for LSU.
But it was not so. LSU led only 14–10 early in the second quarter, but never looked back after that, shutting down the Blazers from that point and getting whatever they wanted on offense.
After struggling last week at Arkansas, Quarterback Jayden Daniels was dominant with 297 passing yards and a team-high 111 yards rushing. LSU scored touchdowns on six of its first nine drives and generated 565 yards of offense.
“I was watching the field,” said Daniels. “I mean, feet, eyes tied together. I feel like (it) was my most efficient game of the year.”
LSU’s performance on Saturday was unusual when stacked up with what happened in the rest of the country. No. 4 TCU needed a walk-off field goal to beat Baylor. No. 3 Michigan also needed a field goal in the final seconds to pull off an upset with Illinois. No. 1 Georgia only beat Kentucky by 10 and No. 2 Ohio State beat Maryland by just three in the final minutes.
Most notably, No. 5 Tennessee lost in blowout fashion to South Carolina.
While LSU’s peers in the race for the College Football Playoff struggled or lost to away teams they were all “better”, a victory over UAB was never in doubt.
Kelly said, “When you look at college football today, many teams struggle to present the best version of themselves.” “This team did it.”
The Blazers aren’t going to win a national championship any time soon. They are groups of 5 teams less than 500. But the display could be ugly, even difficult. But it was not like that at all.
It takes mental toughness.
Kelly said, “Winning has been nice. Individual accomplishments have been really neat, the SEC West Championship. But what I’m most proud of is the mental toughness this group has shown.”