Tenacity, sense of purpose and process are three main cogs that are at the top of LSU coach Brian Kelly’s list of being successful, not only on the football field, but in life.
The “process" is what Brian Kelly espoused from the beginning of his tenure as LSU’s new coach. He wants his players to be accountable for their actions on and off the field. He demands his teams do the little things the right way. You’ve heard the saying, dot your i's and cross your t's. It may seem trivial for big time college athletics, but it’s the little things that lead to huge victories both on and off the field. Kelly believes players should hold themselves accountable for the little decisions in their lives. If they do that then they will be accountable for the big decisions they make.
Kelly wasn’t worried about victories on the field last December when he accepted the job at LSU. One of his first actions was to install and instill in his players that remained with the team and those who choose to play with LSU the understanding of taking care of themselves through proper conditioning with diet, workouts and attention to the little details along with the need to hold yourself and your teammates accountable to the process.
So far this season, LSU players have bought into the process of accountability and conditioning. That's been apparent to anyone who has watched all three games from start to finish. Sure, the offense started slowly in the two FBS games, and we’ve heard about it ad nauseam in the media. But the positive news is that this team went on to dominate those two opponents late in the fourth quarter after wearing them down. LSU scored touchdowns on their last three possessions against Florida St and Mississippi State. LSU would have scored a fourth TD against the Bulldogs if time hadn’t run out ending the game. We've seen this play out before in years past with extremely talented and successful LSU teams. We see it every year with teams that dominate in football.
The defense has shown improvement each week and is by far the shining light so far this season. The defensive line is living up to its expectation of dominating opponents. The depth and ability to rotate players in multiple positions along with their conditioning is leading to their late game domination of the opposing offensive line. LSU’s defense against both Florida St and Mississippi State forced a punt and fumble on the last two drives of the Seminoles in the opener. Against the Bulldogs last Saturday, the LSU defense stopped State on their last four possessions with turnover on downs, two punts and an interception.
We witnessed this defense get better as the Florida State progressed. Against the Bulldogs, the defense gave up the big touchdown run in the first quarter, but really took control of the game from that point on. In the stands, there was never a real feeling the Bulldogs were going to run away with the game. In fact, after LSU stopped the second fourth-and-short try by State in the first quarter, the confidence in the LSU defense was palpable.
The biggest area of concern is in special teams. Talk about paying attention to detail. Fielding a punt inside the 10 yard line or jumping on it with several Bulldog players around after waving your teammates away could have spelled doom for the Tigers.
In fact, in 2020 it would have as the Tiger defense was embarrassed by this Mississippi State program as it racked up over 600 yards of offense. It was one of the worst performances by an LSU team at home.
But, this LSU team overcame the little mistakes thanks to the
defense. Special teams had some bright moments with made extra points and a fumble recovery of a misplayed punt. But there are many t's that need to be crossed and i's that need to be dotted with this special teams unit. Fortunately, LSU has New Mexico State coming into town, and then Auburn on the road to get those kinks worked out.
Once all three facets of the game are taking care of the little details, I believe the wins will follow. Winning is something Kelly knows about as that’s all he’s done at every college football team he’s coached. It will be the same with this LSU team and many more to come in the future.
So, Tiger fans, enjoy the huge victory against Mississippi State and look forward to many more in the future as long as Kelly’s program keeps dotting the i's and crossing the t's.
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