“There are so many things after week one that we wanna do better. I think we have to be careful that this defines anything about this football team other than what they displayed. They displayed grit and character,” Kelly said. “They love playing for LSU and they’re gonna battle their tails off. Was it pretty football all the time? No it was not but they’re accountable, our coaches are accountable, I’m accountable for that and we’ll go to work this week making sure we coach them better and they work on execution. They’re gritty and they’re gonna play hard for LSU.”
For Kelly and the coaching staff, even in a loss, there can be some teachable moments to this team. He was the first to admit after the game that the team was not prepared enough to handle some of the early adversity thrown LSU’s way.
“It’s a high profile program. They come to LSU with understanding that with success, comes a responsibility,” Kelly said Tuesday. “They have to be able to balance that. I’m not up here to make excuses for our guys. But there is a line and you don’t want it to get so crazy we’re attacking people. We can be critical and we should be critical of our coaching and our play.”
Looking back on the game, hindsight always trickles in when rewatching film and Kelly said the coaching staff left the film session with plenty of teachable moments for this team. Offensively, Kelly was asked about the offensive line play and what the staff could’ve done differently to put those players in more advantageous situations.
Kelly mentioned towards the end of the game, the Tigers started chipping at the line of scrimmage, which is essentially o-line speak for knocking a defensive end off his course and usually is done by a running back or tight end going out for a pass.
“Those are things you look at after you see your personnel against a team like Florida State and start to make some deeper evaluations as to how you’re gonna move forward when you start to play SEC competition,” Kelly said.
Other areas were far less technical and should be a little easier to clean up. Defensively, Kelly addressed some of the eye discipline and communication errors in the secondary that need to be fixed and some self-inflicted wounds like Ali Gaye’s targeting call.
The tackling on defense was worrisome as all three levels had difficulty bringing down the Florida State offensive arsenal, leading to extended drives and more time on the field. Kelly told reporters that the team missed 16 tackles on Seminoles quarterback Jordan Travis alone.
But more important than the corrections that the Tigers will undoubtedly need to make, what Kelly was impressed with was the team’s fight until the end of that game.
“Critical analysis is what’s gonna get us better. But I think the theme and what’s most important within our team meeting was there are things we did well. We showed resolve but what we have to do better is consistent execution,” Kelly said. “What we learned is we gotta play four quarters of football and start fast. We did not start fast. The second quarter and third quarter was hit and miss and we finished strong. We’ve gotta play four quarters of LSU football and execute better and that was really the emphasis in that meeting.”
For a team that’s undergone so much offseason change as LSU, week one can be chalked up to somewhat of a real hit when it isn’t all smooth sailing. Kelly and this coaching staff now better understand what this team looks like against other competition.
Now the focus shifts towards correcting what can be fixed ahead of the team’s home opener against Southern on Saturday night.