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Preview: Tigers Return to Death Valley to Face McNeese

by Harrison Valentine, LSU Athletics Communications
GameDay Info COVID Protocols Tickets Listen Live (5 p.m.) Watch: SECN+/ESPN+ Live Stats +0
Preview: Tigers Return to Death Valley to Face McNeese

LSU (0-1) looks to bounce back on Saturday night in its home-opener against McNeese State (0-1), marking the first meeting between the two programs since 2015. 

Kickoff is set for 7:02 p.m. CT on SEC Network+ and the LSU Sports Radio Network.

It will be Tiger Stadium’s first full capacity crowd in 651 days, dating back to the season finale against Texas A&M on Nov. 30, 2019. For many players and coaches, it will be their first normal Tiger Walk, and their first game in front of a full crowd at home. That’s exciting, especially for someone like LSU sophomore quarterback Max Johnson.

“I’m looking forward to it,” said Johnson on the full return of fans. “I’ve never had a chance to play in front of a full crowd here at LSU. I’m looking forward to the energy and the excitement.”

It will also be a family reunion in Death Valley as head coach Ed Orgeron squares off against his son Cody, the Cowboys’ starting quarterback. It will no doubt be a special night for Coach O and family that will be in attendance, but he’s made it clear that once the ball kicks off, that all takes a back seat. It’s LSU vs. McNeese State — that’s the focus.

“Playing against Cody is going to be pretty cool,” Orgeron told the media on Tuesday. “He’s going to be talking some smack, he knows all of our players. He’s excited to play in Death Valley. But once the game starts, it’s going to be competition. We both have to do what we can to win the game.”

McNeese is led by former LSU assistant Frank Wilson, who enters his second season in Lake Charles. 

“I believe he’s one of the greatest assistant coaches that’s ever come to LSU,” said Orgeron of Wilson. “Great recruiter — I’ve worked with Frank — great coach, and I’m glad he’s coaching my son. I love playing in-state schools, I think it’s good for the state, and we’re glad that McNeese is coming to LSU.”

The Tigers are looking to rebound from a 38-27 road defeat to UCLA in the 2021 opener, but Orgeron knows that must start with an improved effort in all three phases, specifically on the offensive and defensive lines. There were a few silver linings from Saturday’s loss, though, starting with star receiver Kayshon Boutte, who totaled nine catches for 148 yards and three touchdowns. Boutte also tallied an impressive 82 yards after the catch and averaged 9.1 yards per reception. 

“We need to get the ball to him earlier,” Orgeron said on Boutte’s performance. “I thought he had a fantastic night. The guy is a dynamite player.”

Rushing for just 49 yards against UCLA, Orgeron emphasized that the run game needs to vastly improve in week two. Freshman running backs Corey Kiner and Armoni Goodwin , who impressed in fall camp and during preseason scrimmages, are both expected to make their debuts at some point in the game on Saturday, along with freshman quarterback Garrett Nussmeier.

On the defensive side of the ball, cornerback Eli Ricks recorded his first interception of the season against the Bruins, and it’s expected that many more are to come as the year progresses. Linebacker Damone Clark led the Tigers with a game-high 14 total tackles. The effort was there, Orgeron says, but players need to be put in better positions to make plays, and that’s an adjustment that’s going to be made ahead of Saturday’s game. 

“I thought our players had a lot of want-to (against UCLA),” Orgeron said. “There was a lot of mistakes made, but most of the mistakes can be fixed by coaching. I take the responsibility myself.”

Fans are reminded that a negative PCR test or proof of vaccination is required for entry into the stadium. Preverification will be offered at 12 sites across campus from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ahead of the 7 p.m. kickoff. In addition to these 12 sites, mobile teams will be available across campus to verify proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to kickoff. Fans can also show proof of vaccination or negative PCR test when entering the stadium.

For more information, check out

Cardboard cutouts did their part in 2020, but their real life avatars can finally return to their seats in over 24 hours.

The sun will find its home in the Western Sky just minutes after kickoff, and Saturday Night in Death Valley will officially make its long-awaited return in front of a full capacity Tiger Stadium.

“I want to use (the energy),” Orgeron said. “I want us to explode at 7 p.m. CDT, not before. There’s a lot of young guys, and some coaches, that will be in Tiger Stadium for the first time, so it will be wild. It’s going to be a great night. I can’t wait.”

New for 2021

Stadium Protocols

With the significant threat presented by COVID-19 across the state of Louisiana due to the highly transmissible Delta variant, LSU will require all Tiger Stadium guests 12 years of age and older to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to entry. The decision comes after consultation with – and support from – Governor John Bel Edwards, LSU President William F. Tate IV, LSU’s Board of Supervisors, Tiger Athletic Foundation, and Director of Athletics Scott Woodward.

Aug. 24 Press Release

Pre-verification Stations

In order to expedite entry into Tiger Stadium, guests for LSU’s home football opener against McNeese State on Saturday can get their proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 PCR test verified from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. prior to their arrival at the stadium’s gates.

Pre-verification will be offered at 12 sites across campus from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. ahead of Saturday’s 7 p.m. kickoff. In addition to these 12 sites, mobile teams will be available across campus to verify proof of vaccination or a negative PCR test taken within 72 hours prior to kickoff.

At any of these sites, vaccinated guests can show:

  1. An original COVID-19 vaccination card; or
  2. A photo or photocopy of a COVID-19 vaccination card; or
  3. Verified digital proof of vaccination, including LA Wallet or another government-sanctioned mobile app. Unvaccinated guests can provide digital or hard copy proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken within 72 hours of kickoff.

Sept. 8 Press Release

GameDay COVID-19 Testing

LSU Athletics will offer limited gameday COVID-19 testing on Saturday, September 11 at the Pete Maravich Assembly Center to Tiger Stadium guests who register here.

Testing will take place from 2:30 p.m. until 5:30 p.m. before LSU’s 7 p.m. kickoff against McNeese State. Registration will remain open until all spots are filled. Only guests who are registered will be allowed to participate in gameday testing.


Find all parking information at, including maps, traffic updates, directions to parking lots, and parking policies.

LSU vs McNeese
September 11, 2021 * Baton Rouge, La. (Tiger Stadium) * ESPN+/SECN+

Saturday, September 11
7 a.m. – Parking lots on campus open | Parking Info
9 a.m. – LSU SportShop opens
10 a.m.-4 p.m. – Pre-Verification Stations for Expedited Entry Open at 12 Campus Sites | Details | Map
11 a.m. – CST’s LSU GameDay Live Pre-Game Show from Maravich Center ramps
• Victor Howell, Jacob Hester, Eric Alexander, Gordy Rush and Ronnie Rantz
12-6:30 p.m. – COVID-19 Vaccinations Offered at Maravich Center
1 p.m. – LSU Ticket Office Opens (1st Floor of Athletic Administration Building)
2 p.m. – L Club Tailgate (northside of PMAC)
2 p.m. – TJ Ribs Tiger One Village opens (front of PMAC)
3 – 4:30 p.m. – Rockin’ Dopsie performs in TJ Ribs Tiger One Village (front of PMAC)
4 p.m. – Club level, Suites open at Tiger Stadium | Seating Chart
5 p.m. – LSU Game Day presented by CST pregame radio show live from TJ Ribs Tiger One Village
• Hunt Palmer, Garrett Brumfield, Marlon Favorite
5 p.m. – Student gates open (Gate 7 only) at Tiger Stadium | Student Tickets
5:05 p.m. – LSU arrives at “Victory Hill”
5:16 p.m. – LSU walks down “Victory Hill” with LSU football alumni
5:24 p.m. – Golden Band from Tigerland marches down “Victory Hill”
5:30 p.m. – All remaining gates open at Tiger Stadium | Seating Chart
• LSU Football Game Programs on sale in and around Tiger Stadium
6:30 p.m. – LSU Sports Radio Network live from Tiger Stadium
• Chris Blair, Doug Moreau, Gordy Rush
• Listen free at or on LSU Sports Mobile App
6:43 p.m. – Guest Captains Presentation at midfield
• Justin Vincent, Jamie Bice, Eddie Kennison, Kevin Guidry
6:45 p.m. – Golden Band from Tigerland takes the field for pregame performance
6:49 p.m. – Alma Mater and National Anthem
6:56:30 p.m. – LSU Intro Video
6:58 p.m. – LSU takes the field
6:59 p.m. – McNeese takes the field
6:59 p.m. – Coin toss at midfield
7:02 p.m. – Kickoff: LSU vs. McNeese on ESPN+/SECN+ | Listen Free

Golden Band from Tigerland Performs
McNeese Band Performs