Game preview: LSU vs Southern

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA – SEPTEMBER 04: Jayden Daniels #5 of the LSU Tigers throws a pass against the Florida State Seminoles at Caesars Superdome on September 04, 2022 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Game preview: LSU vs Southern

The Matchup

LSU (0-1) vs Southern (1-0)

Game time: Saturday, Sept. 10, 6:30 PM CT

TV/Streaming:  SEC Network and Watch ESPN APP

Radio: 105.3 FM (New Orleans), 98.1 FM (Baton Rouge) and 103.7 FM (Lafayette)

What’s at stake

This is just the game that Brian Kelly needs to get things back on track for LSU. They’re playing a team that plays their games less than 20 minutes away from Tiger Stadium. Honestly considering this is an SEC school playing an FCS school, this game is pretty big for the city of Baton Rouge and these tailgates leading up to Saturday night will be on-point.

Let us not get any delusions about what should take place on Saturday. LSU should win big; they are expected to win big. This is the perfect opportunity for Kelly to tweak and tune his offense before their SEC opener on Sept. 17.

When LSU has the ball

Starting running back John Emery is still suspended and won’t play this week. Look for the running backs to play a more featured role this week. Last week against FSU, starting quarterback Jayden Daniels was the workhorse in the running game. We know he’s going to be a part of it, opposing defenses know he’s going to be a part of it. But he shouldn’t be the one toting the largest load in the ground game. This week Kelly needs to find a way to shift that load over to his running backs more and take the burden off of his junior quarterback. It’s also a good opportunity to get some of your running back depth valuable reps, before Emery returns.

This game also provides an opportunity to get the receivers more comfortable within Kelly’s offense, most notably their All-SEC stud Kayshon Boutte. Boutte was a non-factor last week in the loss to Florida State, the Tigers have to get him more involved. He needs to be a focal point of this offense for LSU to win football games.

One area of concern moving forward is the offensive line. It was concern entering the season and remains a concern after last week. Will they continue to have protection issues? Will they continue to have snapping issues? These are all things to keep an eye on as the things unfold Saturday night.

When Southern has the ball

Last week the Jaguars put up 86 points and over 600 yards of total offense on Florida Memorial. But it’s probably safe to say that even first-year Southern head coach Eric Dooley isn’t expecting a repeat performance against the flagship university in the state of Louisiana.

What Dooley has done though is completely revamp the offense at Southern, a program that has historically been a run-first program, now becomes more wide receiver heavy with Dooley calling his own plays. Look for a lot more four and five wide receiver sets with the running backs running more routes and being utilized in the passing game.

BJ Ojulari and the defensive front will look to set up camp in the Southern backfield on Saturday night and if the Jaguars have any hope at all in pulling off a massive upset, they’re going to have to have some stellar offensive line play against LSU.

Key Tigers to watch

The name at the top of everyone’s list this week is Kayshon Boutte. Brian Kelly said he sat down and talked to Boutte after last week’s loss after Boutte, Malik Nabers and Kyren Lacy scrubbed their social media accounts and went dark to escape the flood of negativity. Kelly said ‘don’t read too much into it’, and I think he’s right. I still think it’s inexcusable that he was such a non-factor last week, but I know that he’s going to be a huge part of this offense for LSU moving forward and he’ll have plenty of opportunities to shine on Saturday night.

On the offensive line, we’ll want to keep an eye on Garrett Dellinger. Last week he had some snapping miscues and as he continues to develop as a center the opportunities for error will be there as he looks to get more comfortable with those shotgun snaps.

With defensive tackle Maason Smith suffering an unfortunate torn ACL last week against FSU, sophomore defensive lineman Mekhi Wingo looks to be the next man up for the Tigers. Last week against the Seminoles, Wingo came in for Smith and chipped in with six tackles on defense. They’ll need him to step up this season as Kelly and the Tigers were expecting big things from Smith.

Don’t skip the halftime show

For anyone that may be attending the game do not miss this halftime show. Schedule your restroom breaks and concession visits accordingly. If you’ve never heard of The Human Jukebox, prepare for an exciting show. If there’s one thing that Southern does well it’s their marching band. Often described as music in motion, they put on a show and if you’ve never seen it, It’s worth a watch. I’m not sure how much of it if any, will be shown on the television broadcast, but if you can get a glimpse of it be sure to check it out.

The bottom line

Talent wise, the gap between these two teams is just too massive for Southern to win this game. I think LSU will use this game as a tune-up heading into conference play. They’ll work out some kinks on offense, and I think Daniels has a huge night, may not even end up playing the entire game. Defensively they’ll be a force and look like the LSU defense of old. I can’t imagine a scenario that doesn’t have the Tigers winning big in this one.

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