LSU’s less than uniform ‘competitive edge’ has Kelly edgy

By RON HIGGINS, Journal Sports

BATON ROUGE — When you suffer your second worst season-opening loss since your debut as a Division 1 college head football coach 20 seasons ago, everything is on the postmortem examining table.

This explains how LSU second-year head coach Brian Kelly spent his Monday dissecting every phase of the then-No. 4 Tigers’ bummer-stunner season opening 45-24 loss to then-No. 8 Florida State Sunday night in Orlando.

With a TV viewership of more than 9 million worldwide watching LSU spit the bit, the laundry list of the Tigers’ mistakes and shortcomings while getting outscored 34-7 in the second half couldn’t be hidden.

There was LSU’s anemic red zone offense. And also FSU’s offense converted 10 of 15 combined third and fourth down situations while LSU’s offense managed to convert just a combined 3 of 13. The Tigers had virtually no rushing game and LSU’s new starting cornerbacks were no match for FSU’s lanky receivers.

“When you’re playing and competing at the highest level,” Kelly said at his Tuesday press conference previewing now 14th-ranked LSU Saturday’s home opener vs. Grambling, “you have to play with a competitive edge. You’ve got to play with attention to detail and focus and all of those things. You can pick out situations throughout the game where those didn’t come together.”

After reviewing the game tape, Kelly said some players played with a competitive edge and others didn’t.

“It’s playing with a sense of urgency,” Kelly said. “It’s when your offense comes out from the huddle from the sideline and jogs out to start the next possession and the (play) clock is running down in the six, seven seconds. That’s not a sense of urgency.

“It’s on defense when the backside corner jogs across the field in run support instead of sprinting across the field like his life depended upon it. So, it’s coaching, it’s showing that on film, it’s doubling down on the importance of playing with a sense of urgency and having the emotional control.”

Kelly said All-SEC first team defensive tackle Maason Smith will play this weekend. Smith served a one-game NCAA suspension for earning money at a trading card show in the summer of 2021 a month before the NCAA approved athletes could financially benefit from their name, likeness and image.

Here’s Kelly on other subjects:

On Harold Perkins Jr. strengths as pass rusher being nullified with his move to middle linebacker  

“That’s certainly a question that we have talked about. There’s a lot going on. You could clearly look at Harold and what he’s asked to do vs. lining him up off the edge. Player development has to be thought about, where he goes at the next level has to be thought about and then impacting our team. There’s a happy medium there that we could probably strike, and we’ve already begun to look at how we can be most effective for Harold and for LSU.”  

On LSU’s offensive and defensive failures in the red zone  

“It comes back to being 1/11 of the unit, meaning do your job. We had guys in situational football trying to do three other jobs instead of their own. If we were more disciplined and more focused and taken care of the details of their jobs, we would find ourselves in a different position. That’s on me. I have to make those changes. I have to make those corrections.” 


LSU (0-1) vs. Grambling (0-1) Tiger Stadium, Saturday, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN)

 Last game for Grambling: Grambling lost its season opener on the road, 35-31, at Hampton last Saturday despite 311 passing yards and two TDs from Alabama State redshirt freshman transfer quarterback Myles Crawley. Hampton had 279 rushing yards with QB Christopher Zellous passing for 155 yards and two TDs and rushing for 114 yards and two TDs.

Series record and last meeting: This is the first football game ever between the LSU Tigers and Grambling Tigers.

Grambling head coach: Hue Jackson (10-45-1 overall in four seasons as an NFL head coach, 3-9 in his second season at Grambling.


 Appearance fee paid by LSU to Grambling per game contract: $760,000, plus $20,000 to Grambling Foundation/Football Account and 800 complimentary tickets

 Betting line: TBA

 Number of Louisiana natives on Grambling roster: 8

 Number of Louisiana natives on LSU roster: 8

 Number of transfers on Grambling roster from 4-year schools: 22 players from 16 schools including 1 player from a Power 5 Conference school


QB Myles Crawley (25 of 38 for 311 passing yards, 2 TDs), RB Floyd Chalk IV (33 rushing yards and 1 TD on 13 carries), WR Rash Lyndon (8 catches for 90 yards, 1 TD), DL Javon Carter (8 tackles, 1 TFL), DB Javan Singletary (7 tackles, 1 interception), PK Tanner Rinker (1 of 1 FG, 0 of 1 extra points), P Jimmy Iles (6 for 41.8 ypp, 2 fair catches, 1 inside the 20, 1 for plus 50), KO Iles (5 for 52.6 ypko, no touchbacks), KOR CJ Guidry (2 for 38 yards), PR Guidry (1 for 2 yards)


Twenty-six years after the last of his 48 seasons as Grambling head coach, what percentage of the school’s all-time win total of 587 games does the late Eddie Robinson still hold?

A. 53 percent

B. 63 percent

C. 79 percent

D. 70 percent


Who was the first former Grambling star to win a Super Bowl ring?

A. Buck Buchanan

B. Willie Davis

C. Doug Williams

D. Charlie Joiner

What former Grambling football legend was named a Super Bowl MVP and later became the Tigers’ head coach?

A. “Wee” Willie Williams

B. Ricky “One Toke Over the Line” Williams

C. “Rockin’” Robin Williams

D. Doug Williams


ANSWERS: 1. D; 2. B; 3. D.

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