Brad Davis’ only chance to lead LSU to victory looks like an uphill battle. Davis, who is usually the Tigers offensive line coach, will serve as interim coach for the Texas Bowl game against Kansas State on Tuesday.
The Tigers, like many other college football programs, deal with withdrawals by some of their best players. They are giving up the bowl game to prepare for the NFL Draft. The team’s lead accelerator, Tyrion Davis-Price, took this route. He had 211 moves for 1,003 yards and six touchdowns.
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LSU is thinner in the middle after rookie Max Johnson moved to Texas A&M. Myles Brennan is back from the transfer window but will not play on Tuesday. The Athletic reports that the Tigers only have 39 players on the scholarship, and none of them are quarterbacks.
The Tigers (6-6) had a down year, with five losses for seeded teams, all in an SEC match, only one win over a seeded team (Texas A&M) and an October 2–November 13 run they only won once. With that, the Tigers finished the regular season with two straight victories.
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Sports News takes a look at LSU’s roster standings ahead of the Texas Bowl.
Who will play quarterback for LSU?
The Tigers have had a useful play from Max Johnson this season. The sophomore completed just over 60 percent of his passes while throwing 2,814 yards, with 27 touchdowns and six interceptions.
But Johnson took his talents to Texas A&M last month. That likely set the stage for Miles Brennan, who went in and out of the gate last month. However, Brennan is recovering from surgery to repair a broken arm. Reserve freshman Garrett Nosmeyer is not expected to play; He was reportedly deciding whether to keep his red shirt.
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This leaves LSU with no back-up players for scholarships for this game. But someone has to take shots below center, so Davis can count on QBs Tavion Faulk or Matt O’Dowd, or receiver Jontre Kirklin.
O’Dowd played only two games last year as a senior at Marjorie Stoneman Douglas High School, but as a junior he completed 56.2% of his passes while throwing 1,396 yards and 15 touchdowns to six interceptions.
KIrklin, a senior, has a career 20 for 313 yards and three touchdowns, but was a prolific quarterback in high school. He collected 7,468 yards while completing 54.9 percent of his passes and made 97 touchdowns to 35 interceptions at Lutcher High School in Louisiana. He was also a top striker, with a total of 3,035 yards and 51 touchdowns.
Is LSU exhausted in other locations?
LSU would be without much more than Johnson and Davis-Price. The team’s leading player, Kayshon Boutte, has missed a long time with an ankle injury and will not play on Tuesday. Corey Keener, who had 65 holders for 271 yards as the team’s second-biggest rider, and tight finish Jack Beech, who finished second on the team with 43 catches for 489 yards, will look to advance as an alternative.
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The Tigers would also be without several of the main high school members, including Derek Stingley Jr., Eli Rex, and their alternate. He picked the team’s leading striker, Damon Clark, and announced the NFL draft, as did Neil Farrell Jr. The two collected 24.5 stop losses and 7.5 sacks.
2021 LSU Offensive and Defensive Rankings
Even when everyone was healthy and available, Ed Orgeron’s final year in Baton Rouge was nothing short of fantastic. Things have gone downhill for the program since quarterback Joe Burrow and quarterback coach Joe Brady went to the NFL after the Tigers’ 2019 National Championship season. The Tigers did not enter the bowl last year and are 11-11 since winning the title.
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The offense in particular has struggled this season. LSU is ranked 83rd nationally in red zone crime, 85th in total crime and 86th in third-degree diversion percentage.
Defense was a little better. Orgeron ranked 56th in self defense, 58th in overall defense, and 59th in third place defense, but was also 87th in red zone defense.
One area in which LSU excelled was in not committing penalties. They committed the third lowest number nationally. That number could be higher than usual with an inexperienced lineup facing a tough team at Kansas State.