Auburn plays LSU this weekend in a bit of a reverse 2016 game, where it seems pretty evident that we’ll be the ones losing a head coach with a loss. The purple Tigers lost the opener to Florida State in wild fashion, but they’ve been steadying each week since then, and have a victory over Mississippi State in their back pocket as well.
Let’s allow Zach Junda from And The Valley Shook to regale us with information relating to Brian Kelly, LSU, and everything Lousiana as we prepare for Saturday night on the Plains.
What was the initial reaction to getting Brian Kelly as head coach?
The immediate reaction, for me at least, was “oh god dammit.” And then I thought about it some...and you know what Brian Kelly has won a heck of a lot of games in his career and he’s never had the advantages a program like LSU has. He won the MAC in his third season at Central Michigan. He took Cincinnati to back-to-back BCS Bowls. He got Notre Dame to a BCS Championship Game and the playoff twice. Yes Notre Dame got blown out in the natty against Bama and those two CFP games but those Notre Dame teams just didn’t have the talent 1-85 to compete. He’ll have that at LSU. And look if Les Miles and Ed Orgeron can win championships at LSU, Brian Kelly can too.
We all had the best time watching that game with Florida State, just a hilariously entertaining affair. It reminded us of some of the games Auburn and LSU have had together. In the aftermath of that loss, how has the team responded and grown since then?
First off, to quote Uncle Phil “We?”
Second yeah things have gotten a lot better since then though admittedly LSU hasn’t played the stiffest of competition. Week 2 and 4 the Tigers played Southern and New Mexico respectively and sandwiched between those games was their SEC opener against Mississippi State. LSU got down 13-0 but to their credit they outscored State 31-3 the rest of the way home. The Tiger defense is coming off a shutout against New Mexico where they only surrendered two first downs and 86 yards of offense. I don’t care who you’re playing, that’s an impressive performance. Matt House is looking like the best LSU coordinator hire since Dave Aranda and once his cupboard gets restocked with the appropriate amount of talent at corner and linebacker LSU could be back to having pretty nasty defenses.
The LSU offensive line was awful against Florida State but some personnel changes in the subsequent weeks has, so far at least, led to some stability. The Tigers are playing a pair of true freshmen at left and right tackle and so far neither have played like freshmen. Will Campbell has had the starting left tackle job locked up since enrolling in January, while Emery Jones, who was originally recruited as a guard, has seized the right tackle spot which freed up Garrett Dellinger to move from center to guard, and Charles Turner has taken over the center job.
LSU as a whole has been playing better (well special teams is still kind of a mess but baby steps) but they also have yet to play outside of Louisiana this season. We’ll see on Saturday how they respond to a hostile environment.
Jayden Daniels appeared to be doing things all by himself early on, and Kayshon Boutte has been surprisingly quiet as a weapon. Who has LSU turned to on offense to help with production?
Malik Nabers has taken that WR1 spot from Boutte but I’m optimistic we’ll see a Kayshon resurgence this year for three reasons: first it’s his money year. Everyone knows he’s going pro and while he came into 2022 as a projected first round pick (I believe Kiper had him 6th overall) but he’s not yet playing like a top-10 pick. There’s also the fact that he’s still not quite a year removed from that devastating ankle injury that ended his sophomore year six games into the season. But the biggest reason why I’m optimistic about Boutte rebounding is he and his girlfriend welcomed the birth of their child this past weekend. If seizing all that money waiting for him in April to provide for that baby doesn’t wake him up, nothing will.
Anyway, back to Nabers. LSU’s a wide receiver factory, but there’s something different about Malik Nabers. He’s almost a cross between Jarvis Landry’s fearlessness and Trindon Holiday’s burst. The kid just blows past everyone and he’s got really good hands coupled with that “I’m better than you and I’m gonna let you know it” braggadociousness. I’m a big, big fan of Malik Nabers.
What’s your favorite LSU win in the series and most heartbreaking LSU loss in the series?
Let’s see my favorite win is probably the 2011 game where LSU just threw Auburn in the trash compactor. Favorite moment’s Flynn to Byrd in ‘07 and favorite performance was Fournette in ‘15 when he won the September Heisman.
Most heartbreaking loss...2006 was a bummer but I weirdly don’t remember a whole lot from that game? I was 13 so I feel like I ought to remember more, I just don’t. I know you cheatin sunsabitches robbed us though! Call it recency bias but last year’s loss in Baton Rouge was heartbreaking because that was such an idiotic way to lose a game. I mean my God, LSU had a fourth quarter lead and didn’t call a run play until after Auburn took the lead. That was coaching malpractice by Shrimp Boat Captain Ed Orgeron. The 20 year winning streak in Baton Rouge was nice while it lasted.
What’s your jambalaya recipe?
Ah I’m glad you asked because I was planning on making jambalaya this weekend!
I’m not yet able to make jambalaya from scratch. I haven’t quite reached that level of cooking expertise but I plan on getting there one day. I also live in Nashville so I basically have to import any Cajun style sausage actually worth a damn. So if you’re like me and not living in the heart of Cajun country, a box of Zatarain’s will do the job fine. If you want to use chicken but are in a hurry an already cooked rotisserie chicken will save you a lot of time. Just shred it up real good.
If you do have time, I prefer cooking with thigh meat rather than breast meat. I’ll sauté some onion, celery, and garlic first before throwing in the meat. Pro tip: take as much of the skin as you can off of it before you cook, the skin almost acts like a buffer and soaks up the flavors of the veggies. After I cook up chicken and sausage, I’ll throw in the Zatarin’s mix and I like to use chicken stock instead of water while it boils. Chicken stock gives the rice a lil extra flavor.
What are three keys for LSU to win this game?
Can LSU’s linebackers keep Tank Bigsby contained? Bigsby’s the biggest weapon Auburn has on offense. It’ll be imperative for guys like Harold Perkins, Greg Penn, Micah Baskerville, and Mike Jones (WHO????) to limit Bigsby’s night.
Can the Tiger o-line hold up? LSU’s blocking was a disaster in week 1 against Florida State. They’ve steadily improved since then against lesser competition. Playing the Auburn front in one of the toughest venues in the conference will be a big test for the Tiger offensive line.
Will the real Kayshon Boutte please stand up? Boutte is the best player on either roster heading into Saturday’s game. He’ll hear his name called early come NFL Draft time but he has yet to play like the superstar receiver he is. If he can reintroduce himself Saturday night it’ll go a long way toward an LSU victory.
What in the world happens this Saturday night? Give us your prediction.
I’m expecting revenge for 2016! LSU rolled into Auburn with Les Miles’s job on life support and Auburn pulled the plug on the Miles era. Six years later the venue is the same but the roles are reversed: Bryan Harsin is a dead man walking and LSU will get to return the favor and end the Harsin era.
And yeah it’s LSU-Auburn so expect all kinds of stupidity to happen as per custom.