All offseason, the question was “is LSU going to rebuild or reload?” Well… I guess that has been answered. KJ Costello, in his first game in a Mississippi State uniform and his first game in the SEC, threw for SIX HUNDRED TWENTY THREE YARDS. 6-2-3. He threw for 300 yards twice, and then he threw for 23 more. That beats the previous SEC single game passing yards record by 79 yards. I’ve never seen an LSU defense be so exposed in my life. So, what the hell happened? Why did LSU’s secondary suck so historically in the first game of the year?
It starts with losing Grant Delpit (2nd round pick), Kristian Fulton (2nd), and Kary Vincent (opt out). All 3 were starters on LSU’s national championship defense. Friday night, Derek Stingley Jr. was hospitalized with an “allergic reaction” according to reports, and it became known Saturday morning that he would not play. So, that forced Darren Evans, a transfer who had been with the team for a little over a week, to start. When it became apparent that Evans just wasn’t ready for SEC ball, the coaches opted to go with Jay Ward to replace him. Jay Ward had not practiced “at all” according to Coach O after having recently having knee surgery for a torn meniscus. Ward wasn’t even supposed to play in the damn game. So, every time you saw Costello target #26 and #5, it’s because they weren’t even a part of LSU’s gameplan until the day of the game. Jay Ward will get healthy, and Derek Stingley has been practicing with the team all week. LSU will have one of the best secondaries in the country by the time they play Florida.
Despite LSU’s defense being historically bad, Myles Brennan has gotten more flack than anyone else on the team despite his 345 yards and 3 TDs. Now, I will not say that Myles looked great – he held the ball way too long way too often and looked scared to make decisions. While it’s troubling that a 4th year guy looks so timid, I believe a lot of his issues are fixable with more experience and a better situation around him. First, as I said before, our defense will improve tremendously with Stingley, Logan, and Ward back playing 100%. Myles’s first start came with his defense giving up 44 points; that adds a ton of pressure for the offense to score on every drive – clean that up, and it relieves a ton of stress from the offense. Second, Myles will simply get better at making quicker reads with every passing week. After watching the game a second time on TV since I was at the game, I saw quite a few plays that would’ve been positive plays if Brennan made a quicker read but ended up being sacks, throw-aways, or an interception because of an edge rusher slapping Brennan’s arm. Last, there were something like 5 dropped passes. With our receivers, I’m confident that will not be a recurring issue.
LSU has a lot of improvements to make in order to be competitive with Florida in 3 weeks. For me, my mindset as a fan is that I’m embracing the fact that this is a very young team, and all I want is to be a fun team that plays competitively with Florida, Auburn, and Alabama. It feels like we’re looking at a 6 win season, and anything more than that is just lagniappe.