Brian Kelly breaks down Jayden Daniels’ first start, Kayshon Boutte’s quiet night

·3 min read

Heading into Sunday’s opener against Florida State, there was a lot of excitement for LSU’s new-look offense.

Coach Brian Kelly brought in Mike Denbrock as his play-caller after Denbrock led Cincinnati to a CFP appearance and produced an NFL passer in Desmond Ridder. As expected, Arizona State transfer Jayden Daniels got the nod, but it wasn’t the best showing for the offense in a 24-23 loss.

Daniels was effective on the ground with 16 carries for 114 yards, but his play in the passing game left a bit to be desired. He finished 26 of 35 for 209 yards and two touchdowns, with most of that coming in the second half.

“It’s an opener and you saw a better rhythm,” Kelly said after the game. “You know, we had some dropped passes and we didn’t protect as well.

“You know, that’s a good team. Florida State played well. That’s why I congratulated them at the very beginning. They, for four quarters they played better football, quite frankly. But, yeah, we got into a better rhythm, certainly in the second half. Jayden did. He’s a threat, but we don’t want to rely on him having to go back there and when he does sit in the pocket, we saw his ability to find open receivers, show the patience, and in particular, on the last touchdown he stayed in the pocket, showed great patience, and found Jaray Jenkins in the back of the end zone.”

Kelly added that the run game from Daniels wasn’t as much a part of the gameplan as it was a response to what the Seminoles were doing defensively.

“We didn’t want him, those weren’t–those were scrambles that he was smart there,” he said. “There was a lot of man coverage. So, you know, we’re telling our quarterback, we’ve got a lot of bear up front. We got a lot of pressure fronts and that was a gameplan that we hadn’t seen from them. And, you know, if he didn’t feel like there was somebody open that’s the dimension that he brings and that’s running the football.

“So, that’s the one thing you’re going to give up if you get guys turning their backs and running we took advantage of that.”

While Daniels’ legs do open up another dimension of the offense, it was clear that the passing game was limited. How much of that can be blamed on Daniels vs. poor offensive line play is debatable, but the result was an off night for one of the nation’s best playmakers.

Kayshon Boutte finished with a relatively pedestrian two catches for 20 yards. He was targeted six times and was credited with a drop.

“You know, I think it’s like anything else. Here’s a great player trying to make plays, maybe trying to do a little too much, try to catch the ball before he had it,” Kelly said of Boutte. “I wouldn’t read too much into it. I think he learned tonight that he’s just got to let the game come to him. There’s going to be some nights where he doesn’t get all the balls. There’s so much – that young man has so much on his shoulders. We just got to get to him and tell him to let the game come to him, he’s going to get his catches and not to press as much.”

LSU has to go back to the drawing board when it comes to most aspects of the game after a poor performance on Sunday night. But perhaps nothing will be more crucial in the coming weeks than figuring out the offense and how to get the ball in the hands of its playmakers.

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Story originally appeared on LSU Tigers Wire