Daniels, Nabers lead dominant LSU win at Mississippi State
Heading into Saturday’s game at Starkville against Mississippi State, we did not know who the 2023 LSU Tigers were.
A bad half against Florida State was followed by a good performance against outmanned Grambling.
Perhaps the SEC opener would reveal much about the Tigers. What we learned is that LSU is a good team, particularly offensively, while its defense is improving.
The Tigers left no doubt, dominating from start to finish in a 41-14 victory over Mississippi State.
It was the Jayden Daniels awards show with Malik Nabers playing a huge role as the best supporting actor. While he likely saw his Heisman Trophy hopes disappear in the season opening loss to Florida State, the senior looked the part of an elite, first-level quarterback Saturday.
Daniels finished 30 of 34 for 361 yards and two touchdowns and rushed 15 times for 67 yards and two scores. He has to try to avoid contact more frequently. Daniels set a record, completing 88.2 percent of his passes with a minimum of 25 attempts. It is the best individual percentage in LSU football history.
Nabers finished with 13 carries for 239 yards and two touchdowns, simply toying with attempts by the Bulldogs to play him man-to-man.
Seeing Daniels throw the ball down field with accuracy and success was a welcome sight. That is the final piece to the puzzle in the equation that his being a complete player.
LSU sparkled offensively in the first half but lost a touchdown on the opening drive when Will Campbell was flagged for a false start, negating a touchdown plunge by Logan Diggs. Damion Ramos booted a 22-yard field goal and, unlike against Florida State, LSU came away with points.
The Tigers added more points when Daniels hit Nabers with a 26-yard touchdown pass to make it 10-0 in the first quarter.
The lead grew to 17-0 in the second quarter when Daniels found Nabers again for a score, this time from 33 yards out.
Josh Williams then capped a six play, 66-yard drive with a 1-yard run to make it 24-0 before State scored on a 9-yard run by Lideatrick Griffin just before halftime and it was 24-7.
Daniels was sensational, going 21 of 22 for 255 yards and two touchdowns in the half.
Equally as sensational was Nabers, who had 10 catches for 188 yards and two touchdowns. The four receptions for 25 or more yards in the half for Nabers were the most in a first half for the Tigers since Ja’Marr Chase accomplished the feat in 2019 against Vanderbilt.
Diggs, clearly LSU’s most complete back, rushed five times for 26 yards, caught two passes for 24 yards, had a touchdown run called back and was excellent in pass protection.
The Tigers had 310 yards to just 79 for the Bulldogs but 72 of those 79 yards came on the final drive of the half for State.
LSU took any drama out of a potential comeback with a dominant third quarter. Ramos booted a 41-yard field goal to make it 27-7 and Daniels scored on a 5-yard run and it was 34-7 heading to the fourth quarter.
Daniels finished a 12 play, 75-yard drive with a 1-yard touchdown run early in the fourth quarter and it was 41-7.
Brian Kelly cleared the bench and the Bulldogs got a late score on a 4-yard run by Antonio Harmon to complete the scoring.
It was an excellent performance by LSU.
The Tigers amassed 530 yards to just 201 for the Bulldogs. Neither team committed a turnover. LSU controlled the ball for 38:39 to just 21:21 for Mississippi State. LSU held Will Rogers for 11 of 23 for 108 harmless yards.
There are still some issues up front on offense. Will Campbell, who is very good, had three penalties assessed against him. The right side of the line, with Miles Frazier, Emory Jones and Lance Heard, struggled a bit at times and remains a concern.
The kickoff coverage unit was weak, allowing a pair of good returns by State.
LSU has now won 11 of its last 12 games at Starkville.
Next up, the Tigers host Arkansas next Saturday. The Tigers won an ugly 13-10 contest at Fayetteville a year ago.
While we are still not certain about who the 2023 LSU Tigers are, we know they are a good team and a team that is improving, based on what we witnessed in Starkville.
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Born and raised in the New Orleans area, CCSE CEO Ken Trahan has been a sports media fixture in the community for nearly four decades. Ken started NewOrleans.com/Sports with Bill Hammack and Don Jones in 2008. In 2011, the site became SportsNOLA.com. On August 1, 2017, Ken helped launch CrescentCitySports.com. Having accumulated national awards/recognition (National Sports Media Association, National Football…