Press "Enter" to skip to content

How Players are Accepting LSU Can be a Power House For a Long Time

MIles Frazier shares a section of the LSU locker room with some other players in Mekhi Wingo, Mekhi Garner and Greg Brooks.

What those players all have in common is they all transferred into the program for the first year of the Brian Kelly era. They were some of the first who heard the pitch from Kelly on what the tenets of this program were going to be built on, electing to jump in on the vision that admittedly was a bit uncertain.

“I came here based off of the vision that everyone sees now but before was very blurry,” Frazier said. “I believed and trusted coach Kelly, coach Davis and they had a plan and a process. Ever since then it’s been great.

“We have certain standards that we live up to every week. If we practice well, we’ll play well.”

This LSU team has shocked many en route to an 8-2 record and SEC West divisional crown in year one of Kelly’s rebuild. It’s a position that even a month ago, some of the players weren’t sure was possible according to linebacker Micah Baskerville.

That 40-13 home blowout was a wakeup call for this team, sparking numerous player only meetings and a re-dedication to the process and preparation Kelly and this LSU staff had been trying to instill for months. A common answer from the players in interviews on Tuesday was that they couldn’t pinpoint exactly when the switch flipped in terms of consistently finding the right way to approach every week.

As the season has progressed, the daily habits like filling out questionnaires at the start of the day have all contributed to the Tigers being more consistent in practice and in turn, during the games.

“We’ve just been getting better every week,” freshman tight end Mason Taylor said. “We’re having better practices and just stepped it up.

“Habits and consistency,” edge rusher Ali Gaye said. “We know what we can do but we just needed that little tweak, making sure we’re consistent with our habits and everything else will work itself out. It took us a while to be consistent with the questionnaires but when we got it, we got it. That’s the standard we have for ourselves. It takes time and we’ve done a really good job as a team.”

Getting on the right track as a team takes those daily regimens being completed by every player on the roster, and that consistency has led to more focused practices and much cleaner game execution. But this season wouldn’t have happened without the initial buy-in from all of the players on the roster, with the most significant leaps being taken by the seniors on this roster, whose college careers are winding down.

Saturday night’s game against UAB marks a particular point in many of the 17 LSU seniors’ college journey. For example, Baskerville promised his mother that he would graduate and earn a degree after being forced to miss a semester for academic reasons.

Baskerville was already through an emotional senior day in 2021. While he expects this one to be emotional as well, nothing can prepare him for Dec. 16, when he walks on stage and grabs a diploma in interdisciplinary studies.

“This is a place I wish I could play forever,” Baskerville said. “I was out for a semester of school and when I got back I told her ‘I’ll make sure I get it done, no more mess ups.’ I’m gonna be crying [at graduation], I’m gonna be happy though. I got the paper so it’s gonna be a lot of good emotions.”

Fellow senior Ali Gaye has been at LSU for three years and has been on a highly inspirational journey, first moving with his family from their home country of The Gambia to the United States when Ali was 12. A college pitstop at the junior college level ultimately led him to LSU where his first two seasons didn’t exactly go according to plan.

In 2020, the bizarre COVID-19 season that saw the Tigers finish .500 was followed by a 2021 season cut short just three games into the year with a season-ending injury. Now, after a fully healthy 2022 season, Gaye’s family will finally be able to see him play for the first time in Death Valley in his three year tenure.

“It’s been great. This year being able to be healthy, it’s been great, having great trainers and coaches who trust me,” Gaye said. “It’s a lot of mixed emotions but it’s a tribute to all of the years I’ve been here and to have my family celebrate with me, it’s gonna be something great. Last game in Tiger Stadium, let’s make it a great one.”