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Preview: Football Kicks Off 2023 vs. Purdue in Cheez-It Citrus Bowl

by Harrison Valentine | Digital Media Graduate Assistant
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Preview: Football Kicks Off 2023 vs. Purdue in Cheez-It Citrus Bowl

ORLANDO, Fla. — LSU Football (9-4) will ring in the new year by facing Purdue (8-4) on Monday in Orlando for the 2023 Cheez-It Citrus Bowl.

Kickoff is set for 12:08 p.m. CT on ABC and the LSU Sports Radio Network including Eagle 98.1 FM in Baton Rouge and in the LSU Sports Mobile Apps.

“These guys want to play,” said head coach Brian Kelly. “That’s the great part about it. The guys that are going to be out on that field want to be there, want to represent their universities and want to play the game the right way. It should be an exciting matchup.”

Quarterback Jayden Daniels is ready to put a bow on an impressive 2022 campaign, which features 2,774 yards passing with 16 touchdowns as well as 818 yards rushing with 11 scores. With more still to prove in purple and gold, the junior from San Bernardino, California, announced he was returning to Baton Rouge for his senior season.

“Ultimately, it was the best decision for me to come back and accomplish things that I feel I need to grow on,” Daniels said on Saturday. “I felt like I had unfinished business in college. I wanted to come back and compete for a national championship.”

“It helps us build momentum into the offseason,” added LSU offensive coordinator Mike Denbrock. “We’re a little more settled, obviously, than we were a year ago. It gives us a chance to go to work on the finer details of making ourselves a lot better.”

Sophomore Malik Nabers will prove to be a threat in the receiving game after a very productive regular season, tallying 854 yards on 63 receptions with two touchdowns.

Another Tiger that’s ready to put final touches on a spectacular season is sophomore defensive lineman Mehki Wingo, who has stepped up tremendously after the season-ending injury to Maason Smith in the opener.

Wingo has recorded 44 tackles, 4.0 for loss, with two fumble recoveries and one forced fumble.

“The number one thing you saw was a don’t flinch mentality,” said LSU defensive coordinator Matt House. “He’s been solid all year, both on the field and off the field. He brings a hard hat mentality. He really embraces the traits we’re all about. I think that’s one of the reasons we’ve been able to play successful defense.”

A “don’t flinch” mentality has permeated throughout the entire locker room. Another example of that is from LSU’s two true freshman tackles Will Campbell and Emery Jones Jr., who have accomplished unprecedented feats in their first season playing offensive line in the SEC.

“What those guys accomplished as true freshmen is not to be understated,” said Denbrock. “It really speaks to their work ethic and how open they were to being coachable.”

The Boilermakers will be led by freshman running back Devin Mockobee, who has accounted for 920 yards, averaging 5.1 yards per carry, along with nine rushing touchdowns in 2022. Senior Austin Burton, who has thrown for 199 yards and three touchdowns this year, will start at quarterback for Purdue.

There’s lot to play for on Monday at Camping World Stadium.

The opportunity for a 10-win season and the chance to take momentum into 2023 is not something these Fighting Tigers take lightly.

Finish strong in Orlando this season so you can start strong in Orlando next season, says Daniels.

“For me and the offense, going out there and really just showing the world what we want to showcase for next season, going into next season,” said Daniels. “We want to end on a high note so we can start on a high note. We have a big game next year against a very good team, so we have a lot coming for us. But, we want to end on a high note against Purdue.”

Jan. 1 Press Conference

LSU Game Notes

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