No. 19 LSU not peeking past Army ahead of bye week

Field Level Media

October 18, 2023 at 2:23 am.

LSU is nearing its open date, and a Southeastern Conference West showdown against Alabama looms on the first Saturday in November.

But first the No. 19 Tigers (5-2) have a nonconference game against Army (2-4) on Saturday night in Baton Rouge, La.

LSU coach Brian Kelly is focused on keeping his players focused on the task at hand.

“It’ll be important for our guys to think about what’s important right now,” Kelly said. “The bye week’s not important right now. We need to focus on Army. This week we need to focus on our development and our process. If we focus on anything else, we’ll get beat.”

The Tigers, who were ranked No. 5 in the AP preseason poll, lost to Florida State (45-24) in the season opener and to Ole Miss (55-49) three weeks ago. But they have shown improvement the last two weeks, going on the road to hand Missouri its only loss of the season with a 49-39 win before routing Auburn 48-18 at home last Saturday in what Kelly called “a complete game.”

“We were tackling much better,” Kelly said. “The little things we’re looking for we’re starting to see. (But) this is not a team that can play with the dimmer. We’re either on or off so we need to be on. If we’re locked in and doing our thing the right way, we’re going to have a good Saturday.”

LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels went 20-for-27 for 325 yards and three touchdowns while rushing for 93 yards against Auburn.

The LSU defense has played much better the last six quarters after giving up 706 yards against Ole Miss and 25 first-half points against Missouri.

“We’re playing more consistent defense,” Kelly said. “It’s not just one. It’s 11 guys knowing their roles. When the structure of the defense is in place and everybody knows their role within the defense, you start to get complementary defense.”

The defense will face a Black Knights offense that is struggling. Army has scored a total of just 40 points during a three-game losing streak, the most recent setback coming 19-0 at the hands of visiting Troy last Saturday.

The Black Knights totaled just 255 yards, including 78 passing. They converted 2 of 13 third downs and 1 of 5 fourth downs, lost three fumbles, and gave up six sacks.

“We’ve got to find an identity on offense and we’ve got to score more points,” Army coach Jeff Monken said.

The Black Knights have turned the ball over 13 times this season, among the worst totals in FBS, but Monken said the offense isn’t the only area in need of improvement.

“We’ve got to improve in every phase,” Monken said. “Just because we’re stalling on offense a little bit doesn’t make it a rule that the other team has to hit a big play and score themselves. We’ve got to play a team game.”

Monken called the Tigers “a blue blood” of college football.

“They are tremendously talented and it will take a monumental effort for us to challenge these guys and have an opportunity to be in the football game,” he said.

Army’s leading passer and rusher, Bryson Daily, suffered a leg injury against Troy but Monken said he is hopeful Daily will play against LSU. Champ Harris is the Black Knights’ No. 2 quarterback.

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