“It is hard to compare anybody to Maason Smith, but Mikhi … what he does is extremely effective and now he obviously gets a bigger share of the work. It will be incumbent for others to step up as well.”
Boutte’s situation is a little more complicated.
He’s returning from last year’s severe ankle injury yet remained projected as the first wide receiver on NFL draft boards.
But for most of Sunday’s loss, he sometimes looked frustrated and disinterested.
He dropped one pass on the numbers and wasn’t looking when targeted on a third-down pass at the goal line. It cost LSU as the Tigers had a short field goal attempt blocked on the next play.
“He’s the least guy I’m worried about on our offense,” Kelly said, adding that he had a long talk with the junior from New Iberia. “His standards are so high and obviously it was a difficult day for him. It wasn’t his best, but he’s going to have great games.”
Kelly added that Boutte puts enormous pressure on himself and hasn’t had to deal with much adversity as an instant star two years ago as a freshman. Boutte apparently came under much criticism from fans on social media after Sunday’s game.
“So he’s learning how to deal with that … hasn’t been in this situation before,” Kelly said. “He needs some guidance, so we spent some time and we worked some things out that will him handle the scrutiny — quite frankly the scrutiny was strong. He has handled it in a manner that he’ll grow from.”
HALF FORGIVEN: LSU will also be missing defensive end Ali Gaye for the first half of this week’s Southern game after the fifth-year senior was flagged for targeting in the second half Sunday for a hit on FSU quarterback Travis Jordan.
“I’m not giving Ali a pass on that targeting,” Kelly said. “If you look it up in the dictionary, that’s what targeting is. He’s got to be better. He knows that.”
Jordan, the target in question, was more understanding.
Gaye contacted the FSU quarterback to apologize.
On Tuesday, Jordan posted on social media: “Much respect to Ali Gay for reaching out to me. I really appreciate that, and it shows what type of person he is. It’s part of football, and I wish nothing but the best for him.”
Head coach Brian Kelly confirmed what was first reported Monday — and pretty obvious Sunday night — defensive tackle Maason Smith won’t return this season after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament after he jumped up and came down awkwardly on his left knee while celebrating a teammate’s tackle.
Wide receiver Kayshon Boutte has a chance to bounce back Saturday night in the Tigers’ historic meeting with crosstown Southern University after not catching a pass until the fourth quarter Sunday and finishing with two receptions for 20 yards.
“You know you’re going to miss great players,” Kelly said of Smith. “It’s extremely disappointing. We’re crushed for him because he was celebrating for a teammate and trying to show support. Extremely disappointing.
“But it’s next man up … you got to count on other guys to step up and they did in the game.”
It’s a spot where LSU has depth for a rotation, but Smith anticipated a true breakout after shining as a true freshman last season.
Missouri transfer Mekhi Mingo took over Sunday and finished with six solo tackles. He also recovered the late fumble at the goal line that set up the 99-yard scoring drive the Tigers put together that could have tied the score with no time remaining if not for a blocked extra-point kick.
“Our defensive line rallied, played as well as they could,” Kelly said. “You certainly wouldn’t, after film studies, single that out as a reason for not having success.”
He said Mingo was one of the team leaders, even as a backup.