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LSU 2024 SEASON PREVIEW: YEAR III UNDER BRIAN KELLY PT. II

Updated: Feb 20


As night's infinite black seeped into the thick Baton Rouge summer heat, the second to last car pulled out of the parking lot at LSU Operations Center, leaving only a matte black Tesla alone up front...a full throttle mirage against the twilight.

A lone figure stood on the balcony overview above the front entrance, leaning against the railing amid the sleek, smooth Renaissance architecture around him, peering out into the night, the luminous gold words "Tiger Stadium" lit up against the dark backdrop like its own Bat Signal.....shimmering at eye range from the balcony's aerial view as a constant reminder....


The shadowy figure sparks up a cigar, inhales deeply, and eases back into the sensual shroud of the steamy Louisiana night, facing the stadium where his goals must come to fruition, the building where his design for LSU must take flight, the coliseum where his championship ambitions will finally be constituted.....intensity & partially caged excitement so thick you could cut it with a knife....

But he signed up for nights of pressure like this, and it appears he's signed up for a life term:

At the end of last season, Kelly said to reporters that LSU would be the "last stop of his coaching career", placing all his eggs in one basket as he aims for the ultimate, elusive National Championship.

Look how long it took Nick Saban, Dabo Swinney, Jim Harbaugh, among others to finally win their first title ...and Kelly is finally in a position of level footing alongside those greats of the college coaching profession (regarding roster & supporting elements needed to win a championship), yet he's achieving the standards and taking the necessary steps at a far quicker pace when equally equipped.

For all his accomplishments, near 40 year coaching career, proven track record of sustained success at various stops, the number of NFL Draft picks he's produced (55 from Notre Dame alone, including 10 first rounders & two likely Hall of Famers from his Cincy days, Jason & Travis Kelce), or his consistent, sustained winning culture at every stop, Head Coach Brian Kelly will always be "the coach that couldn't win the big one" in the eyes of many love-scorned Notre Dame fans or general Kelly detractors & SEC-based skeptics....and while that fact is obviously not lost on BK, it's not what drives LSU's veteran Head Coach.
"The process," Kelly has always referred to, is what drives the Tigers' 3rd year main man, and it's what currently fuels his football program.

After two seasons of culture-building, roster fixing, and despite one of his youngest squads in year 3, Kelly now has defined leaders who continue to ride with him on every bounce or dip of the wave since his arrival, Tigers who are ready to become the on-field personification of their Head Coach (Will Campbell, Garrett Nussmeier, Emery Jones Jr, Harold Perkins, Mason Taylor, Greg Penn III and of course "2019's last man standing" Josh Williams enter their third season with Kelly).

With leadership on that level, it's time for the players to police & demand more of themselves:

While this team lacks experience and largely leans towards the young side, there remains a continuity in the leadership department....young men who have grown in leaps & bounds throughout 2023's topsy turvy rollercoaster ride or 2022's guts & glory fantastica alongside their Head Coach, taking the punches and feeling the fire together.....as a team.

2024 LSU is a squad forged by that fire...unencumbered by the smoldering flame, unbowed to the throne of their most reviled enemies, unbroken by championship shortcomings from prior years....this is a new beginning where pressure is greeted willfully...even reverently.....for without pressure to be great, what is truly there staring back at you, lurking beneath the mire of heavy eyelids when the glass of slumber takes you over?

With both eyes diligently on the task at hand, flashing a quickshot glance ahead at the upcoming gauntlet of a regular season schedule, Kelly's 2024 squad will be looking to start off their steambreathing 2024 campaign by lighting up USC inside Allegiant Stadium..the last setting for this February's Super Bowl.

But whatever happens on the field, one thing is assured:

What happens in Vegas, will not stay in Vegas on opening weekend for the Tigers:

Yet another massive opening week stage for LSU in what has become a theme over the past decade; For the third straight season in the Kelly Era, the Tigers will line up against a powerhouse program in week 1, located at a "neutral" site, with the entirety of college football finally feasting after 7-8 months of famine during the off-season.....

Sadly, LSU are 0-2 in these games under Kelly, a change in the recent trends where their performance at neutral sites is considered, and these opening high stakes gambles also appeared to map the season forward...providing nearly a 4 quarter depiction of what was to come:

2022 vs Florida State projected a disjointed offense relying 75% of the time on Jayden Daniels' legs & a defense that could either give up a touchdown on any given snap or make a play that could keep you in games when you needed it most....all disrupted and constantly backed up against the wall by Brian Polian's disastrous special teams coaching....helming the single worst special teams unit in LSU history.

2023 vs Florida State doesn't display LSU's true offensive capabilities that season, however it does accurately depict the manner in which Matt House's defense would take the Tigers' soul and rip it right out of their bodies....leaving them in fiery dismay and suspended animation.....one of the greatest offensive squads & most deserving Heisman winners of all time left to watch both the SEC Championship Game and College Football Playoff from home.....an inescapable disgrace, much like the opening week loss to Florida State...

2024 vs USC?????

If Coach Kelly's Tigers will start looking at their flaws and "roster holes" as opportunities, then this 2024 squad won't just be ready to win Week 1 vs USC, this team would send a bold & brutal message to the rest of the SEC, especially when we're talking about a smart, bonafide coaching staff pulling from a roster pool replete with versatile athletic footballing pedigree....
In both Brad & Bo Davis, Blake Baker, and Corey Raymond, 2024 LSU are led by coaches who are willing to take risks and play a younger guy or take a chance on a Tiger who's on the fringes of the depth chart......

Unlike our past defensive coordinator, the best eleven players will take to the field on each down....an exciting proposition already when one gazes at the 2024 defensive depth chart, even with pressing questions at safety, corner and defensive line.

While the first two seasons of his reign focused on what Head Coach Brian Kelly brought to the table, how much he was able to work & win under the stress of the SEC, it now feels like the fate of Year III rests solely in the hands of these developed cornerstone players: Nussmeier, Campbell, Perkins, Jones Jr, Ryan, Lacy, Swinson, Penn III, Guillory and how far these team pillars can take the Tigers alongside some choice transfers (Jardin Gilbert & CJ Daniels) backed by some stellar young talents (Jackson, Yaites, Toviano, Womack, Stamps, Reliford)....

Kelly's process remains unchanged....but how will his process change you?

How will you grow from the evolution?

Within days of his hire at LSU, Kelly recruited guys like Will Campbell, Emery Jones, and Harold Perkins for this precise off-season, for this moment......because when players of that level become mature enough to lead your locker room, championships are won....

ROSTER DEEP DIVE UP NEXT


by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN

Copyright 2024 Uninterrupted Writings Inc

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If Nuss plays championship caliber QB, participation in the expanded playoff will come down to a surprise or two on defense. Maybe it’s McKinley, or a Spring DL transfer gold nugget. Also, one of our freshman DBs must surprise as an almost immediate starter or rotational player.

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