Updated: Nov 28, 2021
by LONN PHILLIPS SULLIVAN
On the field after their historic victory over Florida, Lexington's blue clad Kentucky Wildcat players chanted "We want LSU!", openly declaring their revolution upon every SEC heavyweight on their schedule.
And who could blame Kentucky for finally feeling confident?
Over the final throes of last weekend, with the mix of LSU's ineptitude and grand catastrophe vs Auburn festering in the air, combined alongside the ascendancy of Mike Stoops' squad, Kentucky were being penciled in as a mega-favorite at home against a team led by a Head Coach many believe could be fired at any moment, an offense without an OL, an under-utilized running back group, and an injury-ravaged defense.....
Of course many are betting big on a traditional "upset" for Kentucky, but this year's contest has tilted heavily in favor of the Wildcats....Coach Ed Orgeron's Tigers are now the underdogs heading to Lexington.
Kentucky Head Coach Mike Stoops was relishing the opportunity to keep pumping out his "underdog" mindset, but now, after such high and mighty divisional success, could the Wildcats be on the cusp of a major hangover upset of their own?
I don't think we should be talking about Kentucky....LSU have many questions that must be answered heading into the game:
Three key starters Derek Stingley Jr, Major Burns and Joe Evans are all out vs the Wildcats, meaning the Tigers must promote the right guys now:
Dwight McGlothern is covering for Stingley Jr out wide and has been a solid contributor; replacing Joe Evans on the interior should be far easier, with Jaquelin Roy, Jacobian Guillory, moving Maason Smith back to DT, or even deploying freshman Bryce Langston among the top options; although trying to find an adequate starter in Burns' absence is a lot tougher...
Jordan Toles featured plenty vs UCLA, but has only rarely appeared since he under-performed at the Rose Bowl;
Senior Cam Lewis should be a firm candidate to take the job, showing off far more mobility than he had amid previous seasons, as well as being blessed with hard tackling instincts; we hear the job is likely to go his way, although there's a strong freshman contender for the vacant position:
Freshman Sage Ryan is back and dressing out for his second consecutive game, with Coach O saying he should get snaps in what would be his LSU Tigers debut....however the question exists: Will Sage's snaps be at safety or nickel?
While I still don't fully trust our linebackers led by Blake Baker, I'm actually not worried about Daronte Jones' defense as much as I am concerned by Jake Peetz's "check with me" offense or the fractured, fragile OL
Systemic issues abide, especially along the interior...although it's frankly crazy how the Tigers actually led for nearly the entire game vs Auburn, somehow able to mask their inability to run the ball or consistently protect their quarterback.
Surely, LSU would get eaten alive in the trenches by Kentucky, right?
This team is so bizarre, yet uniquely talented I could see the Tigers get devoured along the line of scrimmage, rush for less than 60 yards and still win this game....
I don't really trust Kentucky's -9 turnover differential, their 16-10 win over South Carolina's putrid stench of a program, and their 20-13 Florida victory may actually serve to be the hangover distraction which adds a little more pressure on to Wildcat shoulders...
There is one Wildcat in particular who could cause us issues, Nebraska transfer Wan'Dale Robinson, a speedy-freak junior already holding 78 yards from just 4 rushes (19.5 per carry) & 467 receiving yards, 3 TDs and a mere 29 catches.....he's a weapon LSU have to account for in the shuttle screen game, quick stops, crossing routes of course...
Robinson could burn us cutting towards the inside after the catch if LBs Damone Clark, Micah Baskerville and DEs B.J Ojulari / Ali Gaye can't make up the ground or fight through blocks.....plus, Dwight McGlothern and Eli Ricks' (thus far impressive) tackling abilities will both be tested on the edge.
Despite their injuries to key positions, Andre Anthony at DE, Derek Stingley at CB, Major Burns at safety & Joe Evans at DT, LSU's defensive unit are likely to force a few turnovers on Saturday night, such is Wildcats' QB Will Levis' predilection for picks (8 TDs to 6 INTs).
And the Kentucky defense, while stout, don't pick up too many big plays (34 TFL, 9 total sacks, 3 INTs, 1 FF through 5 games...mirroring the output of Daronte Jones' defense across an outing and a half).
There's a good chance for LSU to win up in Lexington, but they have to follow these ingredients:
GET BOUTTE & BECH THE BALL NONSTOP FOR 4 QUARTERS
Get your two best players 30 combined targets on Saturday...do it, damnit.
If LSU can do that, I know the pair will combine for at or near 300 yards and at least 2 TDs....if you're taking Kayshon Boutte or Jack Bech out of the game at any moment, let alone inside the red zone, you're not only ruining your chances of scoring by removing such a key threat, you're making it easier for opponents while robbing our best players of TDs.
Scoring in the red zone is key....no field goals....7 points....
To do this, Peetz has to trust the freshmen alongside Boutte: use Brian Thomas Jr's height and aerial assassinry, actually target Boutte & Bech inside the red zone....
TRUST YOUTH ACROSS THE BOARD
If Garrett Dellinger's shoulder is okay, try him on the OL.
Marlon Martinez or Kardell Thomas should be given reps at guard if Ingram struggles yet again. Try anyone. Xavier Hill was definitely scrapped too quickly.
Reps should go to Deion Smith or Brian Thomas Jr over Jaray Jenkins or Trey Palmer; at RB, Corey Kiner's agile, shifty, speedy brand of violent "in your face" running should be given the lead spot, especially when talking about wearing down a slower Kentucky front for usual starter Ty Davis-Price to finish off.
Also, it's okay to take Ali Gaye off the field for a play or two and replace him with Saivion Jones (1 QB Hit, 2 Pressures in 2 appearances) or Phillip Webb (3 pressures & 1 QB Hit vs McNeese)...
One more thing: Coach Orgeron, if Bryce Langston "looks like one of the best DL you've ever recruited", then why the hell haven't you played the young man?
FAST OFFENSIVE TEMPO THROUGHOUT
If not, then what the hell are we doing?
Clearly Jake Peetz has thus far been a mastermind at second guessing himself, but hopefully he's reminded, when watching the film, that he has a few very dynamic playmakers who simply must get the ball:
Kayshon, Jack, Corey, TDP, Armoni, Deion and Brian....feed them with a quick firing, high octane attack against Kentucky's defense and LSU have a chance.
ALLOW MAX JOHNSON TO RUN THE OFFENSE
Stop preventing the offense from rolling, Peetz: get out of the way, give Max the keys to the car and let him drive.
MAKE BIG PLAYS ON DEFENSE
I don't need to write 15 pages about the specifics of how LSU go about accomplishing these 6 tasks in order to beat Kentucky, that's the job of Orgeron's staff.
All I know is this team, our staff, LSU's head coach have to make a decision:
Is this where the turnaround happens?
Or is this where the tailspin gets out of control?
One way or another, that choice will be made Saturday night...
PREDICTION: I think LSU have a chance in this game...I really do, and while I don't feel this will be another "job saving moment" for Coach O even if he beats Kentucky, it may just buy him more time to salvage the descent into Colonel Kurtz-esque madness his LSU tenure has become......if he even can at this point.
Beyond their head coach, these players are pissed off, they're enraged by what happened vs Auburn at home, they're ready to go up to Lexington and bring home a W....they're embracing the underdog mentality, they're embracing the us against the world vibes, these players have been kept so busy they don't have the time to buy into the outside noise....
I picked LSU to lose this game before the season, 27-21 in OT.....but now, I feel we're going to see a different Tigers team in Lexington....quite frankly, we have to....or LSU will be hiring Mickey Joseph, Steve Ensminger or Corey Raymond as interim head coach.
LSU pull it out 27-24 via a Cade York field goal as time expires.
MAX JOHNSON: 319 Yards, 3 TDs
COREY KINER: 62 Yards
TDP: 70 Yards, 1 TD reception
JACK BECH: 89 Yards, 9 Catches
KAYSHON BOUTTE: 133 Yards, 1 TD
BRIAN THOMAS JR: 48 Yards, 1 TD
SAGE RYAN: FF, 3 Tackles, 1 PD
JAY WARD: 11 Tackles, FR, 1.5 TFL
ELI RICKS: 1 INT, 7 Tackles
CORDALE FLOTT: 8 Tackles, 2 PD
-Boutte long TD catch
-TDP red zone TD catch
-Brian Thomas Jr red zone TD catch to score the final TD in the 4th quarter
-Sage Ryan comes off the bench to force a fumble in the 1st half, Jay Ward recovers & LSU's second TD comes from the play
-Eli Ricks picks off Levis with an instinctual move for his 2nd INT of the year
-LSU's ground game does just enough to "slightly control" the game.
-Kentucky are undisciplined, Dare Rosenthal gets into it with former teammates on the field, some flags are thrown on the Wildcats, and they begin to look bloated, lose their head and play like Kentucky football traditionally plays....
-LSU are sloppy on offense, still make errors, but they're far more together and united than the national media would want you to think. Winning in spite of their coach, and winning for their legacy.
BY lonn phillips sullivan
Copyright 2021 Uninterrupted Writings Inc
SHOUTOUTS: HAPPY FRIDAY ALL MY TIGER PEOPLES!!!