This has been a months-long battle between Jayden Daniels and Garrett Nussmeier and, judging by Brian Kelly’s comments, one that could see both plays at some time this season. While Kelly and the Tigers are keeping the decision close to the vest, it’s essential that whoever jogs out for that opening series not be tight.
Watching practice this camp and seeing the developments of both, the Tigers can’t go wrong with either guy, but because this battle was so close, the last thing either one will want to be doing much of is looking over his shoulder for the next guy in waiting. Executing the game plan will be critical. The confidence this offense no doubt needs from its quarterback will depend on getting the ball to its many receivers, avoiding turnovers, and moving the sticks.
Noah Cain needs to rush for 100+ yards
Every great offense needs a balance, and on Sunday, the purple and gold will want one of its three available backs, Cain, Armoni Goodwin, or Josh Williams, to get into a rhythm. Cain is the one most interesting as he undoubtedly has the most in-game experience of this group and has become more comfortable with the offense by the practice.
It took a little while for Cain to return to his old self after an injury stunted some of his growth over the last few seasons at Penn State. But in a new system with a respected running backs coach like Frank Wilson there for development, Cain is one of those transfers that hasn’t been hyped up a ton this offseason but whose in-season impact could be felt right away.
Cohesion in the play calling
It wasn’t hard to see last year the Tigers had trouble, particularly on offense in just getting plays relayed from the staff to the players on the field. With a more veteran staff under Kelly and offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock, those issues are expected to be eradicated, making for a smoother flowing offense.
One of the difficulties that can come with the first week is those game-like settings, something that can be simulated as much as possible but isn’t indeed known until game day. If the offense and defense hope to start this season on the right note, alignment from the top down will be a priority.
Is the defensive line all that?
The hype has been through the roof for this defensive line, and it would just be nice to know if it’s just been smoke and mirrors. Maason Smith, Jaquelin Roy, BJ Ojulari, and Ali Gaye all have aspirations of being first and second-round NFL draft talents. Matt House and Brian Kelly have raved about the tools at their disposal on the front, but we still need to see them in full game action.
There have been days during practice where the offensive line has completely handled those four, a line full of transfers and young talent. Is this front a mirage or is the offensive line better than expected? They have a great opportunity to show that they’re worth the hype, as the offensive line of Florida State is a question mark. They do have an interesting scheme to face, as FSU offensive coordinator Alex Atkins will force LSU’s defense to be on their toes at all times.
A successful field goal attempt
LSU fans are fortunate to have not needed to worry about field goal kickers. However, all that needs to be done is to look over to the other major Louisiana football team, the New Orleans Saints, last season. You don’t really miss elite kickers until they’re gone, and you start to not be able to trust field goals and extra points.
The answer to the kicker question was not clear during fall camp, but it seems likely that Damion Ramos will be first up to bat for the special teams unit. A strong field goal made in the season opener will do wonders for not only his confidence but the coaching staff as well. Games are won and lost because of kickers, even before they kick. Not having that trust, leads the coaching staff to have to extend drives to the point where crucial mistakes can be made.