Kelly preaches consistency, coachability at Monday press conference

MAKING PROGRESS – During his Monday press conference, LSU coach Brian Kelly praised the coachability of Tigers quarterback Jayden Daniels, citing his ability to communicate and make corrections during the game.

By RYNE BERTHELOT, Journal Sports

Brian Kelly’s first SEC win is a cause for celebration, but he won’t rest on his laurels.

LSU entered the season facing a wide range of outcomes. After the win against Mississippi State, the Tigers are trending in the right direction for a happier outcome.

“Looking at a football team now that has a chance to be good, you have to have consistency,” Kelly said during his press conference Monday. “That means coming back after a good win and putting together a complete performance. That is mental and physical, and that is how they prepare. So we start that preparation today and we move through the week.”

That consistency was hallmarked by a pair of sterling performances by freshman tackles Emery Jones and Will Campbell, who bookended the best offensive line combination LSU has started to date.

That’s been evident by the fact that Kelly was noncommittal about starting junior Anthony Bradford, who missed the Mississippi State game with an injury. Instead, Kelly said he will “certainly have an opportunity to earn playing time next week.”

Kelly’s not wrong for opting to stay with what’s working: Campbell graded as the No. 1 offensive tackle in the SEC by Pro Football Focus, while Jones ranked No. 4.

Despite the solid post-snap play, the Tigers struggled with pre-snap penalties along the offensive line, namely false starts that were caused by insufficient communication and confusion among the cadence and rhythm of quarterback Jayden Daniels. While those problems can be remedied by an up-tempo offense to an extent, it’s still a bandaid over a deeper, more complex wound.

“It’s not as simple as saying, ‘Hey let’s go tempo’ and all of our problems are erased,” Kelly said.

“I think I kind of alluded to some of them. Having three different offensive line combinations requires a lot of communication. We had eight penalties, six of them were unforced. Five of them were communication errors. We’ve got to clean up communication, cadence, rhythm, and so tempo will take some of that out of the mix, so to speak. You just go fast and not have to worry about it.”

Kelly has confidence that Daniels can solidify that communication once his offensive line is set. He’s harped all season on his quarterback’s coachability, something that’s made him a favorite of Kelly’s in the early going of his LSU career.

“I love coaching somebody that is open to the dialogue during the game. You can have conversations with him during the game and he can make the corrections,” Kelly said of Daniels. “Some can’t, so you just don’t even try to do those things. But [quarterbacks] coach [Joe] Sloan is talking much more conceptual.

“I’m trying to deal with some technical things on the sideline, because sometimes I don’t have the big conceptual picture from the sideline. So he gets both ends of that. So far it’s worked out pretty good and he handles both of those conversations really well.”

While Kelly’s still working on his search for consistency, the special teams unit is still trying to clean up the minutiae after a disastrous performance in Week 1 against Florida State. While Greg Clayton, Jr. took over punt return duties from Malik Nabers after Nabers muffed two punts against the Seminoles, Clayton’s still made mental mistakes in the return game, including fielding a punt deep in his red zone and falling on a punt at the feet of Mississippi State defenders who were attempting to down it. Redshirt freshman Damian Ramos had some issues with low, fieldable kickoffs that led to returns.

There were positives, too: Long snapper Slade Roy fell on a muffed punt late that set up a game-changing score, and Ramos has been perfect after having two kicks blocked against Florida State.

“The kickoffs are a direct result of the kick,” Kelly said. “The kicks that have been returned have been line drives down the middle of the field; that compromises coverage. It doesn’t allow us to get off blocks and get covered.

“As it relates to the fielding of the punts, we’ve got to coach better. And I’ve got to be involved in that and make sure those guys are absolutely clear in terms of, they cannot move their heels past the 10-yard line. Greg obviously lost track of where he was — he’s a young player. We’ve got to do a better job coaching him there.”

Contact Ryne at