LSU will need more than just ‘heart’ against No. 8 Tennessee

DEFENDING THE LINE:  Evangel product Micah Baskerville (23) has been a key to an LSU defense that has been the Tigers’ best asset in their four-game winning streak.  (Photo by CHAD KEITH, Journal Sports)


BATON ROUGE — Brian Kelly truly appreciates his team’s effort displayed in comeback wins over Mississippi State and Auburn. That said, the LSU football coach admits that “effort” won’t be enough if the Tigers want to compete for a Southeastern Conference championship.

“It’s pretty clear this team plays with great heart,” Kelly said. “And they’ll fight, but heart and fight will not win games against the opponents that we’re going to have over the next month or so.”

Kelly added, “We’re going to have to have better execution. We’re going to have to coach better, and those things we’re going to have to have on display starting this weekend against an outstanding Tennessee football team.”

No. 25 LSU (4-1, 2-0 SEC) hosts No. 8 Tennessee (4-0, 1-0 SEC) today. Kickoff is set for 11 a.m., much to the dismay of many Tiger fans. The game will be carried on ESPN.

The better execution Kelly alludes to is two-fold — the first being finding a way to slow down the Vols’ fast-paced offense that is averaging 48.5 points per game.

“It is a fast-paced team,” Kelly said. “They’re the fastest team in college football. They snap the ball with an average of about 20 seconds on the clock.”

The leader of the Vols offense is Hendon Hooker.

The Davey O’Brien Award Preseason Watch list honoree has thrown for 1,193 yards, completing 71.68 percent of his passes with eight touchdowns and zero interceptions.  

“I got a chance to go against him when he was at Virginia Tech,” Kelly said. “He is talented. He is big. He is physical. He can throw the football. He runs it, and he has got playmakers.”

LSU will be challenged and Kelly knows that his team will need to have heart but also must execute and make plays itself in all three phases.

“Having heart and fighting the way we do, that’s not going to get it done against Tennessee,” Kelly said. “That’s not going to get it done against Florida at Florida or Mississippi or Alabama.

“We’re going to have to execute better,” Kelly added. “Our details are going to have to be better technically, tactically. We have to coach better.”

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