Tbou and the Tigahs
Rebuild vs Reload — Which is LSU’s story
Reload. It’s hard to believe the word is even a possibility when discussing LSU’s 2022
I bet if a poll had been taken back in December when LSU Head Coach Brian Kelly left
Notre Dame to take the helm in Baton Rouge, 100 percent of you reading this would
have said I’m crazy. Most people, including me, knew LSU was in a rebuilding year and
not reloading. And with good reason.
The Tigers played the Texas Bowl with an interim head coach and only 39 players.
Coach Kelly needed to add nearly 50 players to his roster and add coaches, lots of
them. RELOAD? No way!
Including the paragraph above, here’s another reason why using the word reload is
crazy. Coach Kelly and his new staff had to find the perfect fits for most starting
positions and the holes in the two and three deep depth charts for the offensive and
defensive units were DEEP.
“Perfect fits” ... I talked about that in last week’s vlog. They had to be players who
want to be LSU Tigers. Players who will do the little things (dot their i’s and cross their
t’s). Players who will buy into Coach Kelly’s PROCESS.
Fast forward nine months after spring training, summer conditioning, fall camp and four
games it appears Coach Kelly seems to have just reloaded.
Let’s see if I can bring you over to my side. Coach Kelly reloaded
with a great recruiting class, great transfer portal signees and by convincing many of the
Tigers who played in the Texas bowl to stick around.
Defensive players like Maason Smith, Ali Gaye, Jaquelin Roy, Jacobian Guillory, BJ
Ojulari, Sai’vion Jones, Jay Ward, Major Burns, Mike Baskerville and Mike Jones Jr..
Offensive players like Jaray Jenkins, Garrett Nussmeier, Malik Nabers, Jack Bech,
Armoni Goodwin, Josh Williams, Charles Turner, Garrett Dellinger, Josh Williams, and
the juniors John Emery, Chris Hilton and Brian Thomas.
That’s 22 names. Just enough to fill the 11 needed on both sides of the ball. Although
not representing every position.
There are many other players who stayed and some have seen the field this year. But
it’s the players listed above whose names are being mentioned most frequently
throughout the first four games. They have taken advantage of their opportunities.
Some as recent as Saturday night against New Mexico.
On offense and special teams, Jack Bech got his first start this year because Kayshon
Boutte was out. Bech had six receptions - most of them across the middle of the field.
On some of the passes he caught, the football looked like an insect flying into a
spider’s web unaware of its existence. Bech’s gloved hands seem to be as sticky as
late ’70s/early ’80s Oakland Raiders cornerback Lester Hayes without all the stick’em.
Bech infused excitement into a troubled special teams with his multiple broken tackles
76-yard punt return for TD. Unfortunately, it was called back by a penalty. There’s still
some concern with that unit. But who reading this vlog feels concerned about Bech
fielding punts? Bech took advantage of his opportunity and probably solidified a
regular spot as both receiver and punt returner from here on out.
Transfer portal signees like these on defense: the Mekhis, Wingo (DL) and Garner (CB),
Greg Brooks (S), Jarrick-Bernard Converse (CB) and these on the offense: Jayden
Daniels (QB), Kyren Lacey (WR), Miles Frazier (OL), and Slade Roy (DS) have all taken
advantage of their opportunities.
Wingo, in 2021, was a starting defensive tackle at University of Missouri and earned
Freshman All SEC honors. Now at LSU, he was third on the depth chart behind
Maason Smith and Alexandria native Jacobian Guillory. Smith’s injury in the opener
against Florida State opened the door for both Guillory and Wingo. Wingo made the
most of his opportunity against the Seminoles garnering six tackles and recovered a
fumble at the LSU one yard line to set up the 99-yard touchdown that gave LSU the
chance to tie the game. Wingo was rewarded with his first career start against
Southern and hasn’t given it up.
There are many Tigers who because of injury or absence have stepped up and
performed at a high-level giving Coach Kelly and his staff reason to reshape the depth
chart at some positions. Noah Cain is an example of being fourth in the depth chart but
showing out against the Lobos when Armoni Goodwin left with an injury. Cain rushed
for nearly 100 yards and scored two touchdowns. One on a 49-yard gallop right up the
middle of the defense. When Jayden Daniels went out with a strained back Garrett
Nussmeier responded by completing 90 percent of his passes with one touchdown.
Back in December, Coach Kelly could have just added enough bodies to fill out the
roster starting the rebuilding process, but he didn’t. He and his coaches were selective
in their choices from the high school ranks like Harold Perkins Jr (LB), Will Campbell
(LT) and Emery Jones (RT). All three are true Freshman with the latter two starting at
both offensive tackle positions which for LSU is only the fourth time that’s happened
Players being prepared to step in with very little drop off seems to be taking hold with
LSU as a whole.
(Click on pic above to listen to Coach Kelly)
In my opinion, with so many LSU players stepping up and, in some cases, taking over
the starting roles, the case can made that the Tigers have indeed reloaded.
The 2023 recruiting class will allow the reload to continue.
contact Tom at firstname.lastname@example.org