LSU may go younger to rebound from failed first test

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Kayshon Boutte
(Photo: Jonathan Mailhes)

Many of us have taken a test during to opening of week of school and failed miserably, either due to underestimating the material, not preparing/studying or because the questions overwhelmed us.

Which category does LSU fit into following the eye-opening loss to UCLA? Perhaps a little of all.

The good news is the semester just began and even though the Tigers cannot attain a perfect 4.0 GPA, there is still a chance to land on the Honor Roll.

Make no mistake, last week’s debacle was not up to standards for the program nor the ardent, faithful fanatics.

The Tigers are far from over their hangover in the wake of the 38-27 gut punch loss. This week’s opponent is not in the Bruins category but the game marks the first step in salvaging the season.

LSU will have to prove that they can protect their QB, most likely without either one of their starting tackle, Austin Deculus and Cam Wire. That means inexperienced or seldom used players like Xavier Hill. Marlon Martinez, Charles Turner, Marcus Dumervil and Garret Dellenger will have to step up. Has anyone had a Kardell Thomas sighting? Will we anytime soon?

McNeese will feature one of the better pass rushers in the country, Isaiah Chambers. The 6-foot-5, 265-pound terror of a pass rusher began his football career at TCU before transferring to Houston and finally landing in Lake Charles. With 17 sacks during his career, he was a first team All American and Buck Buchanan Award finalist. He models his game after NFL pass rush specialist Jason Pierre-Paul.

Running the football will be another box that needs to be checked for LSU after running for 53 yards on 25 carries against UCLA. The Tigers have not demonstrated so far that they have a runner on their roster from 2020 and now ’21 that can throw fear into the hearts of the opposition. Running back by committee is workable, but LSU needs that special back to assert himself. I believe Corey Kiner should get touches and, depending on his health, fellow freshman Armoni Goodwin should as well. Soon.

The young receivers have been promoted by the staff as stars of the future. There will have to be some who can lift the load off of the shoulders of Kayshon Boutte. The sophomore had mine grabs for 148 yards and three scores last week. The remaining receivers (WR/TE) collectively snared 15 passes for 160 yards. Defenses will design coverage to erase or limit Boutte. There will have to be alternatives moving forward. Brian Thomas, another freshman, may start seeing the ball come his way much more. It needs to happen.

Max Johnson will need to recognize coverages quickly and spot secondary receivers to provide that relief for Boutte. Head coach Ed Orgeron vowed that freshman Garrett Nussmeier will see playing time behind center as well.

The defensive line needs to take a giant step forward. Many players on both sides of the ball decided to return in order to make good on last season’s disappointing 5-5 record, and the overall talent at that position in particular should be a major strength. The D-Line was controlled by UCLA’s offensive quintet, with the Bruins totaling 470 total yards including 210 of that on the ground. If that happens in SEC games, disaster looms.

I witnessed quite a few L.O.E. plays, which stands for LACK OF EFFORT. That’s a player problem. It’s time to take a hard look in the mirror and want to improve. Missed tackles, miscommunication and effort are all correctable, but should never have happened to this degree.

Maason Smith played but experienced some freshman miscues. Bryce Langston is another young player that I am excited to see in the defensive line.

The back half of the Tigers’ defense was porous. Linebacker Damone Clark stepped up with a big effort (14 tackles). Safety Jordan Toles made a case for himself chipping in with six stops. I expect to see some of highly touted freshmen Derrick Davis and Sage Ryan in the secondary. Clemson transfer Mike Jones, Jr. should be another addition who can make a difference, particularly in pass defense

LSU fans, many who experienced hurricane challenges from Ida and previous storms, are resilient and loyal. I guarantee they are focused on the task at hand, the next game. The same is expected from the guys in Purple and Gold in the field, and it must happen now or big changes will be demanded. Loyalty eventually turns into impatience.

BIG VISITOR

There will be a noteworthy recruit at the McNeese game. Five star safety Jacoby Matthews (6-2, 205) out of Ponchatoula pledged to LSU in April but decommitted July 30th after deciding to visit Texas A&M. LSU may still hold the cards and I think Baton Rouge will be his eventual landing spot. He backed out of his verbal after deciding to take a step back and look at the overall picture. The Tigers can recruit him and other top players through their own improved effort.

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Rene Nadeau

CCS/Fox Sports/ESPN/WFAN

Born and raised in the New Orleans area, Rene Nadeau has been involved in sports ever since his earliest memories. Rene played basketball, wrestled, ran track, and was an All-District running back in football at John F. Kennedy High School. He went on to be a member of the LSU football program, developing a passion for the game in even…

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