LSU will take to the field on Sunday night in New Orleans, and the Brian Kelly era will officially be underway.
LSU hasn’t won a season opener since 2019, when Joe Burrow led a blowout of Georgia Southern in Tiger Stadium. It’s been a few years since Tiger fans started the year on a high note.
Just as LSU was the last of the two openers, it finds itself the favorite again.
Today, we’ll look at why LSU might be able to buck the recent trend. A win this weekend would allow LSU to be undefeated going into conference play. All it would take is a win over Southern next weekend.
Here are five reasons LSU can get the win on Sunday when it kicks off against Florida State.
LSU is the more talented team. While the depth may not be there, and the talent level is slightly below what it has been, LSU still ranks eighth in 247Sports’ talent rankings.
Florida State ranks 18th, sitting about 100 points behind LSU.
Of the 71 players the 247Sports rankings have tracked for LSU, 38 are blue-chip recruits. Florida State has 85 players in the rankings, and 29 are blue-chip recruits.
LSU is significantly more talented, but Florida State’s depth makes the gap respectable. LSU has stars that can take over games. Kayshon Boutte, Maason Smith, and BJ Ojulari all can change the game with a single play. Florida State is still figuring out who can do that for it.
Kelly has won a lot of football games.
I’ve been a fan of Mike Norvell since his Memphis days. I think he’s a good coach who took over a bad situation at Florida State. His record in Tallahassee doesn’t necessarily reflect who he is as a coach.
But Kelly is a guy who has won wherever he has been. He has more experience than Norvell and consistently puts winning football teams on the field.
When it comes to preparation, that could give LSU the edge. I expect the Tigers to look like a disciplined football team on Sunday, something we haven’t seen much in the last couple of years.
The LSU defensive line will have a field day
LSU’s defensive line is one of the best in the country. Ojulari, Ali Gaye and Smith could be stars. Not just in the SEC, but on a national level. These guys are good.
That doesn’t even include guys like Jaquelin Roy and Mekhi Wingo who could just be scratching the surface of who they could be.
On the other hand, Florida State’s offensive line is not on that level. The FSU OL has been an area of concern for half a decade. Every year, the problem appears again.
2022 might be a year of progress, but it won’t be enough in week one. LSU’s DL will be a problem on Sunday night for the FSU offense.
FSU lacks an offensive playmaker
Florida State has a few guys capable of breaking out and the expansive receiver room has the experience, but there’s no game-breaker there yet.
There’s not one guy that LSU has to scheme around or double-team. This allows Matt House and the LSU defense to get creative and use that versatility.
If Jordan Travis is under pressure all night, there’s not one obvious pass catcher that can bail him out. Per the LSU coaches, the Tiger secondary has also rounded into form. LSU should have plenty of opportunities to be aggressive on defense.
Florida State has no book on this LSU staff.
LSU has a lot of new faces. That could spell trouble, but it also means FSU has no book on what the Tigers will do.
We don’t even know who is starting at quarterback, and we don’t know the specifics of the scheme. The Seminoles could take a look at what Mike Denbrock did at Cincinnati, but we know it will look different with Kelly involved as well as the input of other veteran LSU assistants.
The same could be said for the defense. They have plenty of film on the individual players, whether from LSU or their previous stop, but the FSU has no idea what the unit will look like as a group. House will have some surprises dialed up.