Preview: Tigers Set to Host Grambling State in Historic First Meeting
LSU will look to bounce back on Saturday night in Death Valley as the Tigers host Grambling State for the first time in history.
The Home Opener. Saturday Night in Death Valley. pic.twitter.com/ARerFTROaw
— LSU Football (@LSUfootball) September 6, 2023
After suffering a setback in in the opener, LSU is ready to make the necessary improvements in all phases, beginning tomorrow against an in-state opponent. Saturday’s crowd will be partisan, and in favor of the purple and gold, as the Cathedral of College Football kicks off its 99th season hosting the Tigers on Saturday.
There’s no place like home, and there’s no venue like Tiger Stadium.
“Excited about a home game and playing in front of our home fans,” said head coach Brian Kelly. “An HBCU school like Grambling, one of the historic programs in college football. I know our team is excited about getting back out there and playing the game the way it’s intended to be played for four quarters, not two quarters.”
Playing with a “competitive edge” for four quarters will critical, Kelly says. It’s not just about ability, it’s about technique and applying the traits necessary to succeeding in the game. That was something the Tigers lacked in the opener, and look forward to correcting in Week 2.
“The intensity level is what I was looking for,” said Kelly on Thursday. “We’ve seemed to have reached the level that I am much more comfortable with. I feel good about where we are, and were we need to continue to go. We have to play with a competitive edge that we lacked.”
LSU will look to establish a run game after rushing for 113 yards against Florida State, with a bulk of those yards coming from a 40 yard run by quarterback Jayden Daniels and a 35 yard gain from running back Josh Williams. Daniels went 22-of-37 for 347 yards with a touchdown and an interception against Florida State. His 347 passing yards were the most by an LSU player in a season opener.
Transfer running back Logan Diggs is expected make his debut on Saturday, adding another weapon to the mix.
Brian Thomas also proved to be a reliable target against the Seminoles, recording 142 yards on seven catches with a touchdown.
On defense, the return of Maason Smith will provide a dominant force in the trenches alongside Mekhi Wingo, who was formidable in his absence on Sunday with four tackles. Smith will see his first live action since the first quarter of last year’s opener against Florida State, where he suffered a season-ending injury.
Smith still earned preseason First Team All-SEC honors after taking part in just eight snaps in 2022.
“I’m giddy,” Kelly said on Smith’s return. “He obviously impacts our defense and allows us to do different things. His flexibility in our defense provides a new dimension that we’re excited about getting him back.”
— Sherman Wilson (@iRecruitDaBoot) September 6, 2023
Two transfers on defense made the most of their LSU debuts in Orlando as well, as Braydn Swinson showcased his abilities with five tackles, three for loss, while Omar Speights and Major Burns led the defensive unit in tackles with eight a piece.
“It was what we were hoping for,” Kelly said of Swinson on Thursday. “He brought a lot of energy. It’s nice to see that, along with his ability to rush the passer. We hope to continue to build on that.”
Grambling is led by junior quarterback Myles Crawley, who went 25-of-38 for 311 yards and two touchdowns in the Tigers’ loss to Hampton last Saturday. Sophomore running backs Chance Williams and Floyd Chalk IV will assume most of the carries after each tallying a score in the opener. Lyndon Rash led the team in receiving with eight receptions for 90 yards and a touchdown.
“This is a totally different looking football team,” Kelly said. “They have a club that is going to be much improved over last year and they do some really nice things. It will be an exciting opportunity for us to take care of what we need to take care of, and that’s to play this game the right way.”