Jayden Daniels makes last Heisman push as No. 14 LSU faces Texas A&M

Field Level Media

November 22, 2023 at 1:06 pm.

Quarterback Jayden Daniels will make the closing argument in his case for winning the Heisman Trophy on Saturday.

Daniels, the nation’s leader in total offense (417.4 yards per game), will lead the No. 14 LSU (8-3, 5-2 SEC) against Texas A&M (7-4, 4-3) in Baton Rouge, La.

Daniels has been a part of the Heisman conversation all season, but he has gained more recognition with consecutive historic performances in victories against Florida and Georgia State the past two weeks.

“I truly think he’s the best player in the country,” LSU head coach Brian Kelly said. “What he’s doing is so different in terms of what I’ve seen throughout my career in terms of pushing the ball down the field, the accuracy in terms of dropping balls into tight coverages, running the football and the assertiveness.

“These aren’t cupcake throws, all of his throws are vertical throws and his runs, he’s making people miss. He shows toughness and that guy’s a football player and he’s playing the game of football at a level I’ve never seen before.”

Daniels will be facing an Aggies defense that’s ranked No. 8 nationally in total defense (286.5 yards per game), which would further enhance his candidacy if he can continue compiling the statistics he has all season.

This game also is a showcase for Daniels’ top two passing targets — Malik Nabers and Brian Thomas, who are among the 15 semifinalists for the Biletnikoff Award, which goes to the nation’s top wide receiver. Nabers needs four receptions and 144 receiving yards to become LSU’s career leader in both categories.

The Aggies will be playing their second game and first SEC contest under interim head coach Elijah Robertson, who was promoted from co-defensive coordinator/defensive line coach when Jimbo Fisher was fired earlier this month.

Texas A&M defeated Abilene Christian 38-10 last Saturday in its first game under Robertson.

Robertson turned the defensive line responsibilities over to assistant Tony Jerod-Eddie so he could focus on “the overall whole picture of things.” He had offensive coordinator Bobby Petrino move to the sideline from the coaching booth so he could communicate face to face with offensive players.

“The main thing was just having ears and giving my input on both sides of the ball and all three phases of the ball from special teams, offense and defense,” Robertson said of his adjustment.

The Aggies find themselves trying to play spoiler for Daniels just as they played spoiler against the Tigers last season. LSU was headed to the SEC championship game and in contention for a CFP berth at No. 5 when it went into College Station and lost 38-23 to a Texas A&M team that wasn’t going to be bowl eligible.

“I thought those guys responded to a great challenge they had,” Robertson said. “At the moment, the team we were going to play, LSU, they were getting ready to go get ready for a conference championship.

“And our guys for them that was like, ‘OK, well, this is our last game, let’s go out and play the best as we can.’ And it all came together. I thought all three phases last year came together and played well.”