That was one of Brian Kelly’s questions on Monday after LSU learned it would be representing the SEC West in the conference championship. He didn’t want to pigeonhole this group into wins and losses because there was an element of unknowing how this team would look in year one.
For Kelly, the most essential part of success in year one for this team was about playing hard, being better in November and teaching this team how to win.
“I think we’ve hit on those markers and we’re at where we should be at this time,” Kelly said.
“Winning is a habit and losing is a habit. What we can take out of that game is they have done the things necessary to make winning a habit. They found a way to win that football game.”
After a less-than-comfortable win and a shaky offensive performance, to put it nicely, Kelly and this LSU team got a good look of how the process of learning to win, regardless of the situation can look. Now the focus shifts to self-improvement as the purple and gold get ready to host UAB on a senior night in Death Valley.
This is a game LSU will not be taking lightly as UAB is much better than its .500 record, featuring a dominant running back and a veteran defense that is multiple with its looks. The LSU offense needs to return to its aggressive style of play that worked so well in the previous three games before the Arkansas setback. It starts with recognition for Jayden Daniels and company as Kelly went into detail about one particular look the Tigers didn’t adjust to against the Razorbacks.
For example, on offense this past weekend, LSU faced a lot of three-man defensive fronts from the Razorbacks. Kelly said the Tigers had faced more three-man fronts this year than any other scheme and the biggest difference Saturday was the Arkansas pass rushers’ aggression on the edge.
“We just simply didn’t take advantage of that aggressiveness,” Kelly said. “We’ve gotta prepare our team to be ready for teams that want to play three down with the edges being so close. We have talented players on the perimeter, and we’ve gotta get the ball out to them.
“Understanding what adjustments we have to make when teams are looking to defend things that have been really good for us. We gotta look at how we’re doing things and be one step ahead from that perspective. Do some things that allow us to be effective at what we’re good at and quite frankly our preparation has to be better, we gotta coach better.”
On defense, the Tigers can expect teams to start planning for linebacker Harold Perkins in creative ways and it’s up to the staff to continue putting him in prosperous situations, beginning with the players around him having success as well. Kelly raved about the performances of Jaquelin Roy and Greg Penn against Arkansas, calling it the best game of their 2022 seasons.
All season long, Perkins has been described as a “spy” for the opposing quarterback but now the Tigers’ coaching staff are asking the right questions, ones like does the offense put a spy on Perkins?
“A lot of this has to do with flushing him out and that starts with BJ [Ojulari] and Ali Gaye and Roy had his best game of the year. There’s a lot of guys that go into this. I can go on and on about that front,” Kelly said. “That group up front, they make a lot of that happen because they flush that quarterback and then [Perkins] can chase them down.”
It seems like the message this week revolves around self-improvement on both sides of the ball and continuing to find little wrinkles to what the offense and defense do best before the start of postseason play.