The awakening: Tiger offense starting to come around

Published 6:55 am Wednesday, October 19, 2022

Matter of fact, it was just three plays into LSU’s opening offensive series against Florida Saturday.

Maybe it was the offensive awakening he and the Tigers had been waiting on.

But the Tigers, already trailing 7-0, faced third-and-8 from their own 27.

“This was the seventh game and we’ve been confronted with those situations before and haven’t made them,” Kelly said.

Star receiver Kayshon Boutte, who’d had minimal input on the offense in previous games, was the primary target on this play call and would eventually get wide open. But he wasn’t open immediately. And as so often has happened, quarterback Jayden Daniels was flushed from the pocket by the Gators’ rush.

“It was really the first time those two found each other, if you will, in that situation.”

They weren’t done.

Later in the same drive, the Tigers faced third-and-15 and the two connected for 14 yards, which allowed Kelly to gamble on fourth-and-1 and pick it up on a drive that eventually ended with a touchdown.

The 12-play, 75-yard drive, which set the LSU tone for what turned into an offensive shoot-out, was hardly an aesthetic masterpiece.

“Quite frankly, we made mistakes,” Kelly said of the opening drive. “We made lots of mistakes. But the drive ended up in the end zone because of those two guys.

“Sometimes what you need is your big-time players to step up and I think that’s the first time all year that our best players stepped up to that level and made plays.”

It jump-started Boutte, a preseason All-SEC choice who had previously been relatively quiet, to his breakout game of the season, 115 yards in six catches.

And it’s the kind of dynamic offense LSU (5-2, 3-1 SEC) will likely need Saturday when they host high-powered No. 8 ranked Ole Miss.

“We’d been grinding it out where we’re fighting for every blade of grass,” Kelly said. “You’ve got to make some big plays.”

Offensively rejuvenated, the Tigers scored touchdowns on their first six possessions.

Daniels eventually threw for a season-high 349 yards, including three running touchdowns and three more passing.

Of the latter, one stuck out to Kelly — the 54-yard touchdown to Jaray Jenkins after Florida jumped the snap count on the play.

“That’s part of our offense (when teams jump offsides). Take the shot downfield,” Kelly said. “Maybe earlier in the year we throw that ball out of bounds.

“But sooner or later we have to step up and make those plays and Saturday they did.

“Now we just have to be consistent. You can’t do it one week and turn it off the next and expect to win.”

WHAT’S MY LINE? The Las Vegas betting line on the Ole Miss-LSU game opened Sunday with the Rebels favored by 2 points.

Less than 24 hours later the line had moved to where LSU was favored by 1.

WOUNDED TIGERS: WR Jack Bech was in street clothes for the second half against Florida with a recurring back strain that sometimes tightens up on him. Kelly said Bech would be “day-to-day.”

“It’s cranky,” Kelly said. “Hopefully we can get him up and going, get him loose enough to he can play. He’s a tough guy.”

Also, running back Armoni Goodwin could play this week after sitting out since the New Mexico game with a hamstring issue.

Kelly said Goodwin would practice Tuesday to see how it goes.

“He wants to play and our doctors have cleared him.

Goodwin started three of the first four games.

TIGERS: True freshman tackle Will Campbell was named the SEC’s co-offensive lineman of the week for his play against the Gators.

3 ON 3: Daniels is only the second LSU quarterback to rush for three touchdowns and throw for three more in the same game.

The other was a guy named Joe Burrow — and Burrow needed four quarters and seven overtimes to do it in an infamous loss to Texas A&M in 2018.