Prediction: LSU 38, Southern 7
The Tigers take care of business, cleaning up some of last week’s sloppy play and taking advantage of the leg up they have athletically.
But the story of this game won’t be the game itself. Saturday is the first time these two Baton Rouge schools have faced each other.
“Bringing them both together I think is a critical thing for the city,” Kelly said. “This doesn’t happen. I mean, how many teams get together from the same city? Maybe UCLA and USC? I can’t think of many more that are in the same city that play each other.”
LSU’s attack never found its footing until late in the third quarter, when Noah Cain’s run up the middle on fourth-and-goal delivered the Tigers their first touchdown of the Kelly era.
Before then, the game’s story was an offensive line that looked overmatched, a quarterback (Jayden Daniels) who wasn’t on the same page with his receivers, and a running game that was non-existent outside of Daniels’ scrambles.
But after Cain’s score, the Tigers got touchdowns on the next two drives. The last score resulted in a perfectly executed 99-yard drive in the final 1:20 that should have sent the game to overtime.
Why the sudden improvement in play? LSU increased the tempo on offense, which wore down a Seminoles’ defense that had looked spry and dominant in the trenches. The change in pace also prevented the Seminoles from making any necessary adjustments, as Daniels had more time to find his receivers and read coverages. “The slower we go, the more that we allowed them to go out there and make the calls and dial up the pressure they wanted to,” Daniels said moments after the loss. “The whole thing we talked about in the quarterback room is controlling the rhythm. Keep the rhythm of the offense, that’s our job. So like I said, in the first half, I didn’t do a good job of keeping the offense’s rhythm. Sometimes we snapped the ball with like five seconds left on the play clock.”
Because of the lopsided score, McCray wasn’t on the field enough to wrack up big numbers. But the quarterback still finished the game with a team-high 91 rushing yards and a touchdown. He also threw for 81 yards and two scores.
Like with Travis last week, McCray is another athletic dual-threat quarterback. And even if he doesn’t have Travis’ pedigree, McCray still presents the kind of challenge that will test an LSU defense riddled with tackling issues and third-down problems last week.
“McCray, the quarterback, is very elusive,” Kelly said Tuesday.
Against LSU, Travis had a 105.3 NFL passer rating and a 66.7% adjusted completion percentage, according to Pro Football Focus. The Tigers also had 16 missed tackles, as Jay Ward and Mike Jones Jr. were the leading culprits with three apiece.
Lewis was the 2021 SWAC Defensive Player of the Year, an AFCA first-team All-American, and the Buck Buchanan Award winner during the Jaguars’ shortened spring campaign that year. Last season, he had 19 pressures in nine games, per PFF.
How the Jaguars utilize him as a pass rusher on edge will be worth noting. LSU’s tackles, Will Campbell and Cam Wire, both had their fair share of struggles against FSU.
Despite being a freshman, Campbell had a better performance on the left side but still allowed three pressures. Wire allowed four.