-A faster offensive start: LSU’s first five drives vs. FSU totaled a combined 31 plays and produced a game-opening drive field goal. Against Southern, LSU’s first five offensive series resulted in five first-quarter touchdowns before starting quarterback Jayden Daniels took a seat the rest of the night.
“We know we played a great 12 minutes last week and we knew that we could carry it over to this week,” said Daniels, who in his 15 minutes of fame in his Tiger Stadium debut completed 10 of 11 passes for 137 yards and three TDs as well as rushing for 18 yards and a TD. “With urgency, everything you know started with me. I really just pushed the urgency and the tempo each and every day (in practice). With a fast pace, we could be dangerous.”
-Flawless specialty teams: LSU had a field goal and a potential game-tying extra point blocked by FSU and fumbled both Seminoles’ punts.
A field goal and extra point protection were flawless vs. the Jags. New punt returner Greg Clayton Jr. didn’t fumble any punts. LSU blocked an SU punt for a first-quarter safety.
Most importantly, LSU forced and recovered a fumble on the game’s opening kickoff.
“When you have a chance to take the opening kickoff and go down and score and then the opposing team gets the ball and you know you will not get the ball to start the second half,” Southern coach Eric Dooley said, “you have to make sudden changes.”
-Efficient starting offensive line play: Lineup changes were made with Garrett Dellinger moving from center to left guard, Charles Turner getting his first start of the season at center, Miles Frazier shifting from left guard to right tackle, where he replaced Cam Wire, who was benched.
The revamped O-line dominated like a Power 5 conference team should against an outmanned SWAC squad. Aside from two first-quarter false starts, the line gave Daniels and backup QB Garrett Nussmeier time to throw for a combined 320 yards and three TDs and produced huge holes for 230 rushing yards and five TDs.
“We made some tweaks and I feel like it strengthened our unit,” Kelly said.
-Third-down conversions: FSU converted 11 of 17 third downs as it built a 17-3 lead last Sunday. Southern was a mere 2 for 10 in third-down conversions. LSU led 35-0 (which included a Micah Baskerville 29-yard TD interception return) before the Jaguars picked up their first first-down on their 12th offensive snap with 4:09 left in the first quarter.
The Tigers forced five Southern turnovers and cashed in three for 21 points.
“We were mad that we lost last week,” said Baskerville, who also blocked a Jags’ punt for a safety late in the first quarter and who was awarded a game ball by Kelly. “We really came out with a mindset this week of getting turnovers.”
-Shake your Boutte: LSU’s preseason first-team All-America receiver Kayshon Boutte’s disgusted body language couldn’t be hidden in the FSU loss when he had just two catches in six targets.
He had a catch on the Tigers’ first offensive snap vs. the Jags and finished with five receptions for 42 yards and ran for 41 yards on a first-quarter reverse.
“We felt like it was important to get him in a good rhythm early on,” Kelly said of Boutte. “What we learned in the first game as coaches is that we need to just get the ball out to him quickly and let him make some plays, even if they’re short, quick routes. He’s going to make some things happen.”
When the Tigers and Jags finally shook hands after their 3-hour historic first meeting on a clear night under a full moon, LSU accomplished exactly what it needed.
Vastly improved execution. No major injuries. Confidence somewhat restored against an inferior opponent.