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Preview: Tigers Return to Death Valley on Saturday Night vs. Georgia State

by Harrison Valentine | Digital Media Graduate Assistant
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Preview: Tigers Return to Death Valley on Saturday Night vs. Georgia State

BATON ROUGE — LSU returns to Death Valley on Saturday night for a non-conference date with Georgia State in the final night game of the regular season.

Kickoff is set for 7:05 p.m. CT on ESPN2 and the LSU Sports Radio Network.

Coming off a thrilling 52-35 win over Florida, the Tigers look to maintain the nation’s most high-powered offensive attack behind Heisman hopeful quarterback Jayden Daniels, who posted a Heisman-worthy performance last week accounting for 606 yards of total offense by himself.

After finishing 17-of-26 passing for 372 yards and three touchdowns, along with 234 yards rushing on 12 carries with two scores on the ground, Daniels became the first player in FBS history to record 350+ pass yards and 200+ rush yards in a single game, setting the SEC single-game record for total offense.

The San Bernardino, California native also moved past 12,000 career passing yards and 3,000 career rushing yards, making him the first NCAA FBS player to eclipse both marks in his career.

Daniels, currently No. 1 in the nation in pass efficiency (202.1 rating), yards per attempt (11.6), passing TDs (30) and rushing yards by a QB (914), has taken his game to another level in his second season in Baton Rouge, but his development is not by accident. Elite preparation has translated into elite performance for LSU’s quarterback. 

“It was in him,” said head coach Brian Kelly. “He had that upside. It’s probably one of the things we saw when he transferred here. We saw a player that could be elite. All of those things coming together – and having the confidence in himself to go out and do it.”

Daniels was awarded SEC Offensive Player of the Week for the fourth time this year for his play against the Gators, while center Charles Turner was named SEC Offensive Lineman of the Week. 

Distractions are everywhere when you’re a Heisman candidate. But Daniels has remained the same off the field, like he has on the field: cool, calm and collected, not letting the bright lights or extra cameras rattle him in his preparation.

“He’s used to the distractions,” Kelly said of Daniels. “He does a great job of keeping them at bay. He makes the important things important. He’s in here early in the morning, gets his work done, and when he gets to practice he’s locked in. He’s been really professional.”

Malik Nabers is just 282 yards away from 3,000 career receiving yards, which would make him the eighth player in SEC history and the second in LSU history to reach the milestone. Last week, Nabers recorded six catches for 132 yards, while Brian Thomas led the team with six catches for 150 yards and two touchdowns.

“I think he’s the best wide receiver in the country,” Kelly said of Nabers. “In terms of what he does – on jet sweeps, yards after the catch, catching the ball down field – he’s multidimensional in what he does. He’s deserving of being a Biletnikoff Award winner.”

The Tigers have registered a 100-yard receiver in nine straight games with Brian Thomas (150 yards) and Malik Nabers (132 yards) reaching the mark against Florida.

A look at the opponent: Georgia State is led by senior quarterback Darren Grainger, who has accounted for 1,986 yards passing for 14 touchdowns and five interceptions. Grainger also ranks second on the team in rushing with 569 yards and seven scores on 112 carries.

Senior Marcus Carroll leads the Panthers’ rushing attack with 1,206 yards and 12 touchdowns on 244 carries this season, while junior Robert Lewis leads the receivers with 52 catches for 727 yards and seven touchdown scores.

Senior linebacker Jontrey Hunter leads the team in tackles with 78, while senior TyGee Leach has tallied 62 of his own, along with an interception.

For LSU, Kelly says, it will be about continued improvement as the regular season comes to a close, with the goal of another 10-win season in view.

“They come in with nothing to lose and everything to gain,” Kelly said of Georgia State. “For us, it’s still about looking towards getting better each and every week. This will be about our preparation, how we get better in all facets.”