LSU football got off to a horrible start to the 2022 season a couple of weeks ago. The Tigers came out against Florida State looking unprepared for the challenges that lie ahead. Although a 24-23 loss was the result of the Allstate Louisiana Kickoff, many felt as if the Bayou Bengals could’ve come out on top without a plethora of minuscule mistakes across the board.
The focus following the poor performance against the Seminoles then shifted during week two. Brian Kelly’s team welcomed FCS foe Southern to Death Valley, and with the result all but certain, the hosts needed to address some key miscues they had during the opening week. The game against the Jaguars provided them with a chance to do just that in Week 2. LSU wasted no time correcting a number of important mistakes that it made versus Florida State.
LSU football: The Tigers addressed key issues against Southern in Week 2
The greatest Week 1 woe was undoubtedly special teams. Brian Polian’s unit quickly shifted the narrative around it on Saturday night as the kicking team forced (and recovered) a fumble on the opening kickoff. This gave the Tigers some great field position—which they quickly capitalized on without fault—and momentum to start the night off right.
Special teams would go on to have a flawless game, a completely different story than the week before. Kicker Damian Ramos was eight for eight on extra points. Perhaps more importantly, the linemen blocking for Ramos looked solid. LSU was even able to get its No. 2 kicker, Trey Finison, out there to nail the team’s final extra point of the night. Enough cannot be said about the improvement of the special teams unit and how crucial it is going forward.
Elsewhere, the defense was able to get off the field on third downs. The Seminoles torched the Tigers during Week 1 on third downs (11 for 17) and it made a solid defensive performance look a lot worse than it actually was in reality. LSU desperately needed to get these leaks plugged before the floodgates burst open sometime down the line.
It must be said that the Tigers did a fantastic job of making third down stops against Southern. The added experience of Micah Baskerville and the introduction of Harold Perkins Jr. went a long way to steadying the defensive ship throughout the game.
Southern finished the night just two for 10 on third down. It must be said that the Jaguars aren’t exactly a test for LSU’s defense early on—they’re more like a pop quiz. However, on a night where Matt House’s crew was without Ali Gaye (for a half), BJ Ojulari and Maason Smith, it didn’t fail to impress against an explosive Southern offense.
Lastly, the running game took significant strides toward improving. While the rushing attack wasn’t exactly an issue in Week 1, Denbrock’s play-calling prevented it from being an answer. A lot of fans expressed concern about the passing game, but the Tigers’ receivers were never going to be held down for long given their talent across the depth chart. Instead, it was the running game that needed to drastically improve.
Even though LSU’s offense was missing John Emery Jr. (who will return against Mississippi State next week), it still got it done on the ground against Southern. The Bayou Bengals racked up 230 yards on the ground from 36 carries, with only 18 of those coming from Daniels.
Sophomore Armoni Goodwin really separated himself from the committee on the evening. He managed to rack up 85 yards on 12 carries and added two touchdowns to his stat sheet. Penn State transfer Noah Cain also had an impressive night (10 carries for 51 yards). It was a much more promising rushing attack with a new offensive line in front of them. The ground game will be crucial to unlocking the Tigers’ aerial threats throughout the season.
Overall, LSU addressed a number of key concerns en route to a 65-17 win over the Jaguars. It’s important to keep reality in check—Southern is an FCS school at the end of the day—but teams can only beat the opponent put in front of them. For all intents and purposes, Saturday night was perfect for Kelly’s Fighting Tigers, who rebounded well.
Now it’s onto the Bulldogs, who will provide another test for LSU early on this season.