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Updated: Dec 18, 2021



On January 4th, when he leads the 2021 Tigers against Kansas State, LSU's interim Head Coach Brad Davis is not only looking to stave off the Tigers' first losing season of the 21st century, he's also about to become the University's first black Head Coach in program history. Brutally, the joyous history arrives minus any padding for the interim Head / OL Coach:

Without a fortified starting quarterback, as well as missing numerous injured or absent contributors, Davis' Texas Bowl task will be a monumental undertaking.

Facing 7-5 Kansas St, Davis will be wondering whether his starting quarterback will have to be either:

1. true freshman Garrett Nussmeier's first ever start or

2. walk-on Matt O'Dowd's moment to shine....

......either option remains uncertain at best.

Contributing to the QB-less position LSU now find themselves in?

Suffering current transfer attrition, LSU lost All-American CB Eli Ricks, extremely talented freshman WR Deion Smith, oft-injured freshman DE Landon Jackson, and of course, starting QB Max Johnson to recent exits.

Losing Johnson before the bowl game is...for lack of a better phrase: bad for LSU, taking on an unpredictable K-State team, as more upcoming opt outs & transfers from LSU players looks possible, starting a true freshman or walk on QB was the last thing this team needed.

But it's happening....and now, much like the last two seasons, LSU will deal with bizarre, unforeseen circumstances so rare & wildly unbelievable that if this squad were a sitcom, its TV pilot would be canceled after a single audience test.

Start a walk on at QB in a bowl game?

No problem.

Go into a bowl game led by an interim head coach, a hazy moment of transition surrounding the program, and a cavalcade of players all heading towards different directions???

We've done it before & won....

Despite our positivity, January 4th's Texas Bowl will supply the most roster, staff & personnel attrition we've seen an LSU team face in a very long time.

The Tigers will have their hands full, deploying a spine of steely 2019 era veterans (TDP, Farrell Jr, Clark, Ward, Ingram, Deculus) alongside mostly freshmen or inexperienced fringe players, all pushing to see LSU through to a 7-6 finish.......ensuring 7-6 happens, Head Coach Brad Davis will lean heavily on these committed Tigers:

Offensively, if O'Dowd starts, expect LSU to lean almost exclusively on the legs & vision of 1,000 Yard rusher Ty Davis-Price, as well as possibly experimenting with the former Marjory Stoneman Douglas QB's rushing abilities.

TDP may be playing in his final game for LSU, and he'll be hungry to build on his rushing total & hoping to add more touchdowns to his tally (6 in 12 regular season games). Against Kansas State's 126 yards allowed average, Brad Davis' O-Line will have their work cut out for them....yet I feel Davis-Price will record yet another 100 yard outing.

Don't sleep on O'Dowd's legs, either...

Out wide, LSU will need big games from Jack Bech, Jaray Jenkins, Brian Thomas Jr and SEC Freshman All-American Malik Nabers, each Tiger wide-out having just a few moments inside the end zone throughout 2021 (13 combined scores).

Specifically, Jack Bech will be who I'm watching to have a monster January 4th, facing a defense surrendering 221 yards through the air per game.

Bech has been dealt a harsh hand throughout 2021, always open, always ready, constantly making positive things happen for the Tigers' pisspoor offense, though only rarely did he receive passes which helped him unleash his full powers.

3 TDs and just under 500 yards may seem nice for a freshman, but for Jack, a player who craves the big time stage, brightest lights, and of course the ball, 2021's statistics weren't nearly representative of #80's actual influence.

I expect to see Nussmeier or O'Dowd get into a quick rhythm throwing short slants and crossing routes to Bech, allowing the St Thomas More legend to do what he does best....make plays after the catch;

These are easy calls & easier throws for any collegiate QB to pull off, moreover, these routes would ignite Bech, open the entire offense up, and wear down the core of Kansas State's defense.

Quick shuttle screens to Malik Nabers will also work, too....

Regardless of the circumstances in Baton Rouge, I actually have more questions surrounding Kansas State's overall consistency & lack of offensive weapons than fears over our own program's current stability;

The Wildcats are a team who lost two games by 6 points or less, before suffering an 11 point defeat to then-#25 Oklahoma State and a 10 point loss to #11 ranked Baylor. Additionally, K-State's inconsistent, one dimensional offense scored less than 30 points during half of their games, dropping less than 17 points across their last two contests.

Their major asset is running back Deuce Vaughn, clocking 1,246 yards and 15 scores while averaging 5.8 per touch, he is an absolute do-it-all weapon....a wrecking ball of destruction LSU could have trouble stopping.

Obviously leading the team in rushing, Vaughn also ranks first for Kansas State in receiving yards (471), receptions (47) and receiving touchdowns (3), only Malik Knowles' 399 yards within striking distance.

Although Vaughn was held to just 51 yards on the ground against #6 Oklahoma, he answered by racking up 104 yards receiving from 10 catches! Quite simply, Deuce can control the game however he must; as long as the ball is in his hands, he's a danger for LSU's much-improved, but still depleted defense.

However, if LSU can contain Vaughn.....then what do K-State do offensively?

If Vaughn is contained, what will K-State do???

They will lose the game....

On the other side of the ball, Kansas State have a solid enough defense for their conference, refusing to allow a 40 point game thus far in 2021 (only surrendering 37 in a 6 point defeat to #6 Oklahoma and 31 to then-#25 Oklahoma State); Still, they were embarrassed when losing by 13 at home to rivals Iowa State (33-20).

Kansas State's solid defensive unit has three primary playmakers, Felix Anudike (11 sacks, 14.5 TFLs and a stunning / NCAA-leading 6 forced fumbles), Daniel Green (team-leading 83 tackles, 14 TFLs, 3 sacks and 2 fumble recoveries), and Russ Yeast (3 INTs, 1 forced fumble & 10 PBUs).

Where can LSU attack Kansas State most?

Possibly in the pass rush, where the Wildcats' non-existent QB play (11 total passing touchdowns across 12 games from 3 different quarterbacks), led by Skylar Thompson, has been atrocious during 2021.

Perhaps this is the game where B.J Ojulari geauxs off for a couple sacks, his first since the Florida game???

As for LSU's own quarterback, who's identity wasn't named during current Head Coach Brad Davis' press conference on Tuesday, if Garrett Nussmeier wants a future as a Tiger, especially as a starter next year over Myles Brennan or Walker Howard, he has to prove that he's capable of taking the mantle right here, right now against K-State.

And if Matt O'Dowd wants to become a major QB room contender (as well as earn a scholarship spot), he knows what must be done on January 4th...

With nothing to lose, the Texas Bowl could be an enticing watch for LSU fans, possibly getting to see highly promising fringe talents such as Phillip Webb, Kardell Thomas, Mike Jones Jr and freshman LB Greg Penn III take on major supporting roles.

Could we also witness the highly anticipated return of 2021 Louisiana 5 star freshmen Maason Smith & Sage Ryan? Though Maason is still practicing in a gold jersey right now, he will most likely be 100% ready for January 4th.

Facing poor quarterback play, possessing a Grade A pass-rush & strong run-stuffing, LSU will force Kansas State into a plethora of 3rd down and distance situations; Because of this factor, I think we also see Dwight McGlothern intercept his 2nd pass of the season during his homecoming game, playing in front of his Houston hometown crowd for the first time as a Tiger.

It would no doubt boost our defense if Smith & Ryan returned or if McGlothern has another key showing, though LSU's veterans, Farrell Jr, Clark, Ward and Lewis will be just fine holding down Daronte Jones' unit.

I'm far more worried about LSU's offense.....



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Kimball Franklin Phillips
Kimball Franklin Phillips

Will be watching, great article and insights. LSU has to basically start over, if you will. They have a great tradition and will do great!

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