Five things we can learn when LSU hosts Grambling on Saturday night

It can be difficult to get meaningful takeaways from a game such as LSU’s matchup with Grambling this weekend.

These SEC vs. FCS matchups typically all play out the same way. The SEC school takes care of business in the first half behind a sheer talent advantage before turning it over to the second-stringers in the final quarters.

This one is a little different. LSU is coming off a loss and needs to show improvement in specific areas. This weekend should give it a chance to work on some things.

Here are five things we can learn when LSU plays Grambling on Saturday night.

What does Maason Smith look like?

(AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman)
(AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman)

It was against an FCS opponent in 2021 where Smith announced his presence. He notched three sacks against McNeese State and it was clear he had the physical tools to be a force up front.

It’s been awhile since LSU fans have seen Smith on the field. The defensive linemen missed 2022 after tearing his ACL in the early going of the opener and was unavailable last week due to a NCAA suspension.

Smith said he feels comfortable with where he’s at and Brian Kelly expects about 30 snaps on Saturday night.

Despite the opponent, Saturday should still be able to show us what type of burst Smith has getting off the line. By all accounts, his recovery has gone well, so I expect to see the same type of player Smith was prior to the injury.

Any new OL combos?

(AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman)
(AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman)

Saturday could be a time for LSU to mess around with some different offensive line combinations.

The line struggled to create a consistent push up front last week. Will Campbell is set in stone at left tackle, but outside of that, LSU has flexibility.

Do we see Lance Heard get some action at right tackle with Emery Jones bumping over to guard?

Mason Lunsford, the Maryland transfer, should see some action too.

It was coming out of week two last year when LSU finalized the offensive line it rode for the rest of the year. A similar dynamic could be in play this week.

Harold Perkins' usage

(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

The biggest story on LSU’s defense last week was the usage of Harold Perkins.

After emerging as one of the best pass rushers in the country as a true freshman, LSU sent Perkins after the QB just seven times last week. We knew they wanted Perkins to improve as a traditional linebacker, but the game plan was baffling.

If Perkins plays more inside linebacker again this week, that doesn’t necessarily indicate that’s where he’ll be when SEC play starts. LSU could take a chance to get Perkins reps against a lesser opponent. So I wouldn’t read too much into that.

At the same time, if Perkins is already put back on the edge, that’s where I’d expect him to remain. He doesn’t need practice rushing the passer so if LSU is eager to use him there against an FCS team, that means he’s moving closer to something resembling his role from last year.

The running back room

(Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
(Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

Several players in LSU’s running back room remain with availability concerns.

John Emery Jr. will be out another week, and the status of Logan Diggs and Armoni Goodwin remains unclear.

The group struggled last week. Outside of a long run from Josh Williams and an explosive catch and run from Tre Bradford, LSU got close to nothing from this group.

Some of that is the offensive line struggling to block, but you’d like to see more playmaking ability from the RBs to counter that.

It shouldn’t be a problem this week. LSU has the talent advantage across the board. But how LSU rotates backs in could indicate a pecking order emerging here. It’s possible one back has a huge game, cementing himself atop the room for now.

Kaleb Jackson, a true freshman who generated buzz in camp, could get some run too.

Does LSU work its downfield passing game?

Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports
Melina Myers-USA TODAY Sports

LSU entered its Week 2 match with Southern last year with a specific goal in mind. Get Kayshon Boutte the ball.

Denbrock knew it was a good time to work in the star receiver and get everyone on the same page before conference play.

This week, Denbrock needs to work the downfield passing game. A lot of this game plan should center around shot plays that generate buzz for this offense.

That could mean drawing up plays for speedsters Aaron Anderson and Chris Hilton. Or, maybe we see more play action and up-tempo offense.

It doesn’t matter how it gets done. LSU just needs to do it.

You can’t enter SEC play without a downfield passing attack.

Story originally appeared on LSU Tigers Wire