LSU fans need to give Kelly time to rebuild program
First-year LSU football coach Brian Kelly has taken to fining the media for arriving late at his weekly press conference.
Following the season-opening 24-23 loss to Florida State in the Superdome, Kelly “jokingly” fined a reporter for the Advocate $10 for being a few minutes late.
The reporter quickly replied she would be on time when LSU wins.
Following LSU’s home-opening 65-17 win over Southern, Kelly was the one arriving late, and flashed a crisp $10 bill upon arrival to pay his fine.
After the Tigers opened SEC play this past Saturday with a 31-16 win over visiting Mississippi State, LSU fans may wonder if they also should start fining the offense for arriving late to games.
For the second time in three games, the Tigers’ offense looked anemic for three quarters before looking unstoppable in the fourth quarter.
Against its two FBS opponents, LSU has outscored them 34-7 in the fourth, which is nothing to sneeze about. However, it has only scored a combined 10 first-half points against FSU and Mississippi State.
What to make of all this?
First, credit the defense for making the necessary adjustments at halftime to give the Tigers a chance to not only get the offense clicking, but also give the team a chance at victory.
Saturday, against Mike Leach’s Air Raid offense, LSU held State below 300 yards offense (292), including just 214 passing. State had been averaging 44 points and 486.5 yards coming into the SEC opener after wins over Memphis and Arizona. LSU held Bulldogs quarterback Will Rogers to 214 yards and sacked him four times.
Second, credit the LSU offensive coaching staff for making the necessary second-half adjustments to find something that would work.
The biggest adjustment was with quarterback Jayden Daniels who struggled to accurately deliver the football to his receivers and the staff, out of desperation, turned him into more of a runner rather than a passer in the fourth quarter. Daniels got a true taste of what SEC football is all about as he was hit, and hit often, by State’s defense. Still, I don’t think anyone wants to give back those 21 fourth-quarter points Saturday.
Finally, I sense most LSU fans are still unsure of what to make of Kelly.
He is a Yankee, whose coaching chops were developed in the Midwest. He is replacing a native son in Ed Orgeron. There are real cultural differences, as anyone who has watched Kelly’s introduction at that LSU basketball game can attest when he tried to put a fake Southern accent on the word, “family.”
Kelly has won everywhere he has coached – just look at what Notre Dame has done since he left that program.
The program Kelly inherited at LSU isn’t the same one Les Miles took over from Nick Saban, and you could even argue it’s not the same program Orgeron inherited from Miles.
Kelly inherited a losing program.
After winning the 2019 national championship, LSU went 11-12, including 6-7 a year ago, The Tigers were 8-10 in SEC play. Kelly got a program that played in the Texas Bowl with just 39 scholarship players available.
There was -- and still is -- a lot Kelly and his coaching staff have to fix. The offensive line should be priority A, B and C. We now know why Kelly went out and got the best dual-threat quarterback transfer available in Daniels.
Kelly’s track record -- 265 victories, two Division II championships and three undefeated regular-seasons -- says he will do that. The Tigers should win their next two games easily against New Mexico and Auburn, which may or may not be a program with an interim athletic director and football coach by that time.
Then comes the gauntlet of Tennessee, Florida, Ole Miss, Alabama and Arkansas, who are all currently ranked. There will be difficult times ahead this season, but LSU fans need patience, and Kelly needs a few more recruiting classes to finish rebuilding this program.