LSU coach Brian Kelley reacts during the team's NCAA college football game against Southern University on Saturday, Sept. 10, 2022, in Baton Rouge, La. (Scott Clause/The Daily Advertiser via AP)

LSU Welcomes Mississippi State to Death Valley for SEC Opener

LSU will return to Tiger Stadium Saturday to kick off SEC play against Mississippi State.

Triumphant LSU

Following a gut-wrenching loss to Florida State in week one, LSU bounced back into the win column last Saturday with a dominating 65-17 win over FCS-opponent Southern.

LSU jumped out to a commanding 44-0 lead in the first half before head coach Brian Kelly pulled starting quarterback Jayden Daniels. Daniels — a junior Arizona State transfer — completed 10 of 11 passes for three touchdowns and added a rushing score.

The Tigers averaged over six yards per carry on the ground against Southern, but Kelly admitted that it is “hard for [him] to evaluate [LSU’s] running game right now.”

“The efficiency’s been pretty good, but I think I can evaluate it better when we start to get into SEC play,” Kelly said.

Senior running back John Emery Jr. will return to the gridiron for LSU this weekend for the first time since 2020. Kelly expects to ease Emery into the offense but is optimistic that he will complement the current backfield.

“[Emery’s] got speed, he’s got size, he’s got all the things you that look for in a back, but he just hasn’t played very much” Kelly said. “We’re not going to ask him to do too much, but we’re going to give him the opportunity to insert himself into the game and see what he can do to get our running game moving.”

Bulldogs Enter Death Valley

Mississippi State enters Baton Rouge this weekend undefeated after comfortably knocking off Memphis at home and Arizona in the desert. But the Bulldogs will face their toughest test thus far as they prepare to enter the hostile environment that over 100,000 fans at Tiger Stadium present. Through two starts this year, junior quarterback Will Rogers completed 78.6% of his passes for over 750 yards and nine touchdowns with only two interceptions.

Kelly called Rogers “disciplined” and “highly efficient” as he leads all SEC quarterbacks in passing yards this season.

“If [Rogers] is just comfortable in a three-man rush all day, it’s easy for him,” Kelly said. “He doesn’t get rattled and he’s going to take what you give him.”

Kelly compared defending Mississippi State’s offense to going against a triple option.

“They run it so well, that from a defensive perspective, you have to be so good at your assignments first and foremost, and then you’ve got to tackle,” he said.

Look to the Past

The Tigers beat the Bulldogs by a field goal last season in Starkville, but Mississippi State prevailed in a 44-34 shootout two years ago when the teams last met in Baton Rouge. LSU has won 19 of 22 meetings since the start of the century and the Tigers lead the all-time series by 40 games. Saturday’s kickoff is scheduled for 6 p.m. and will air on ESPN.

About Griffin Foll

Hi, my name is Griffin Foll and I am currently a senior at UF studying journalism with a focus on sports and media and an outside concentration in political science. In addition to covering the 2023 UF men's and women's golf beats, I contribute weekly web and radio content for WRUF ESPN Gainesville. Be sure to check out some of my recent articles!

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