There are now just three days until LSU football kicks off its 2022 season. The Brian Kelly era is officially upon us, and he leads his team into battle on Sunday evening. The Tigers will square off against another traditional powerhouse who has struggled heavily over the last couple of years in Florida State. The Caesars Superdome in New Orleans will play host to this headline event on college football’s first full weekend of the year.
As alluded to earlier, the Seminoles are in a very similar place as LSU right now. Florida State head coach Mike Norvell may have a few years on his counterpart at their current jobs, but he inherited a program in a more dire state. However, that’s what makes this one of the most intriguing match-ups of the weekend. The winner of this contest will be tipped to be on the come up this season, but it’s incredibly difficult to predict what will happen in Sunday’s clash.
LSU football begins its season on Sunday against Florida State in New Orleans. Site Expert Kelvin Hunt from Chop Chat joins us for a pre-kickoff Q&A!
Obviously, Tigers fans have read a lot about their team at Death Valley Voice over the last few weeks. Now it’s time to get some insight from the other side of the aisle. In a recent discussion with Death Valley Voice’s Gabe Henderson, Chop Chat Site Expert Kelvin Hunt revealed his thoughts ahead of the Seminoles’ second game of the year.
Here are all of the questions and answers from the chat with Hunt:
Death Valley Voice: What are some of the biggest takeaways (both positive and negative) from the convincing victory over Duquesne?
Chop Chat: I think the biggest takeaways were obviously the running game and the efficiency of the offense. It was the most comfortable that I can remember Jordan Travis looking since arriving in Tallahassee years ago. They were very vanilla but still showed the ability to stretch the field in the passing game. Wide receivers made plays (which has been non-existent in years past), and the defense did what they were supposed to do against an inferior opponent.
They only had five penalties and only punted once. FSU played without its starting boundary cornerback, Omarion Cooper, and it showed. The secondary was not terrible, but there’s a drop-off if he’s not in the game. I think he’ll play Sunday night, though. If he doesn’t, that would be a major concern against LSU. I’m also curious to see how this FSU offensive line looks against someone like LSU.
Death Valley Voice: Which players on the Noles’ offense will cause problems for an inexperienced LSU defense? On the other hand, who are some of the individuals to look out for on defense? Who is capable of truly flipping the game on its head with one incredible play?
Chop Chat: FSU will want to run the ball, so the three-headed running attack of Treshuan Ward, Trey Benson and Lawrance Toafili is something to watch. I think QB Jordan Travis will be a large part of the running game too. However, he’ll have to make plays through the air to keep the LSU defense honest. WRs Johnny Wilson (6’7″ 230 pounds), Deuce Spann and Mycah Pittman (slot).
Defensively, DTs Fabien Lovett and Robert Cooper, LBs Tatum Bethune and Kalen DeLoach and All-ACC safety Jammie Robinson could all make impact plays. However, the wildcard will likely be DE Jared Verse matched up against LSU’s talented freshman tackle [Will Campbell]. Verse is explosive and incredibly quick off the edge.
Death Valley Voice: How do Florida State fans assess this LSU “rebuild” and does that impact how you view this game? Similarly, where do you feel Florida State falls in the ACC’s power rankings right now?
Chop Chat: I think LSU isn’t quite as damaged as where FSU was when Mike Norvell got hired. LSU still has loads of talent (options at QB). They have a proven coach in Brian Kelly, so I don’t think it’ll take them long to get back to prominence. However, catching them earlier in the year without more time to gain continuity with so many new parts favors FSU. I think FSU is in a position to finish in the top half of the ACC. They will go as QB Jordan Travis goes, and I’m picking them to finish 8-4 this year, which would be the most wins since the 2016 season.
Death Valley Voice: There are a lot of question marks all over LSU’s depth chart heading into Sunday’s game. Do you view this as an advantage or disadvantage for the Noles? Why?
Chop Chat: I think FSU’s continuity on both sides of the ball favors them. QB Jordan Travis is in his third year, and the running backs have experience (aside from Trey Benson, who played his first game last week). FSU has transfers starting, but they enrolled in the spring and established some rapport. Defensively, they have experience and talent returning at all three levels. I think that mitigates the talent edge somewhat that LSU will have in the game since it’s game one.
It is an advantage for LSU that FSU has to guess at what they’ll unveil scheme-wise, but FSU coaches have coached against Brian Kelly the last two years and have experience against at least one of their coordinators. FSU faced Jayden Daniels in the 2019 Sun Bowl, which provides some familiarity if he’s the starter (and I expect him to be).
Death Valley Voice: What is your overall prediction for the game? Do you think [LSU being the slight favorite in betting odds] is a fair assessment or do you believe many people are underestimating Mike Norvell’s squad?
Chop Chat: I think it’ll be a low-scoring affair. I give FSU about a 45% chance at winning this game straight up. If they can establish the run, that would be huge. However, the wide receivers will have to make some plays in one-on-one situations. Mike Norvell understands the importance of this game from a national perception. I think they’ll likely pull out the stops to try and get a win with a bye week on deck, including running the QB a lot. They’ll need all that and to win the turnover battle or at least break even in that department. Special teams will have to help win the hidden yardage battle too. That’s something FSU was terrible at last year, but I can’t wait to see how it all unfolds Sunday night.
A huge thank you goes out to Kelvin for taking the time out of his day to talk with us about Florida State. Be sure to check out Chop Chat and read my responses to his questions before Sunday!