Chop Chat: LSU finished the 2022 season ranked No. 8 in FEI advanced metrics (FSU finished No. 9). What major differences do you expect from Brian Kelly’s team in year two?
Death Valley Voice: The LSU Tigers are more competent this year than last. One must consider all that was new to the team a year ago. Players were acclimating to a new staff, schemes, and playbooks. Even something as simple as inputting meals into an app was new to the Tigers. Nevertheless, the dynamic is different this season as players entered the offseason with experience and an understanding of Kelly’s expectations.
LSU is also going to benefit from continuity this season. They are the only SEC team that returns the same head coach, offensive and defensive coordinators, and starting quarterback from 2022. As such, the Tigers spent this offseason building on where they finished last season.
Chop Chat: FSU brings back the most experience and production of any team nationally. They also brought in some big-time players from the transfer portal. What challenges do you think this FSU team will pose this year, that they didn’t last year?
Death Valley Voice: If I remember correctly, Florida State struggled in the red zone last season. I assume that is why their transfer portal talent includes lengthy tight ends and former high-jump champions at receiver. Either way, Jordan Travis and Trey Benson are too talented to allow the same issue in 2023. The Seminoles likely spent much time during their spring and fall camps on converting red zone opportunities.
Chop Chat: If you had to name the biggest strengths on offense….what would they be? Biggest offensive weakness? Same question for the defense?
Death Valley Voice: LSU football’s biggest strength on offense is Jayden Daniels. The graduate enters his fifth season as a collegiate starter and carries lofty expectations. We expect Daniels to continue making plays with his legs but spend more time in the pocket and airing the ball out more in 2023. LSU’s strength on the offensive line enables such. Starting tackles Will Campbell and Emory Jones return and will be pushed by freshman Zalance Heard for playing time.
Defensively, Harold Perkins is the most vital piece of the LSU defense. Perkins caused a ton of chaos from the edge last season after breaking out against Mississippi State in Week 3. He moves to inside linebacker this season, where he’s more difficult to avoid. A stellar interior defensive line will play in front of Perkins. However, as we know, they will operate without preseason All-SEC defensive tackle Maason Smith in Week 1 because of a suspension.