LSU football kicked off its season in Orlando against Florida State in what was arguably one of the most anticipated opening games of college football this season.
Garnet flooded the streets as Florida State fans poured into Camping World Stadium to watch the Seminoles take on the Tigers. Similar to last season, LSU versus FSU was the first game of both opponent’s schedules, and for LSU, it ended in a soul-crushing loss.
That game was a little bit different, though. The Caesars’s Superdome hosted the Allstate Louisiana Kickoff and though just two hours up the road from Baton Rouge, Florida State fans traveled well. LSU head coach Brian Kelly’s job had just begun months prior. The 2022 game didn’t end like this one either; a blocked PAT ended the game 24-23.
This year, the Seminoles were able to capitalize on every hole in LSU’s offense and defense, quickly extinguishing any success the Tigers did find. Florida State took the game 45-24. Opening games have proven to be a point of contention for LSU. The Tigers haven’t won their opener since the 2019 national championship season against Georgia Southern.
While first game jitters on both sides of the ball seemed to play a hand in countless first half mistakes, Florida State eventually pieced together the talent that it knew it had. LSU, however, did not.
Florida State outplayed LSU in every aspect of the game. The Seminoles’ defensive line applied consistent pressure on the Tigers. LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels fell back into the pocket and cracks in the offensive line compelled unnecessary scrambles, oftentimes leading to Daniels throwing the ball away. Florida State ended the night with four sacks.
We got ourselves in critical second-and-long, third-and-long situations where they know that they are able to pin their ears back and rush the passer,” Daniels said. “So you know, staying out of those situations, helping the offensive line out; me getting the ball or me making the right protection call. You know, stepping up, taking a hit, but also delivering a ball. That’s things that could change the defense.”
A defining factor for Florida State was the stacked receiving room that LSU never matched. The Tigers totaled 347 receiving yards, but incomplete passes and an inconsistent run game never allowed them to capitalize on those yards. Of Daniels’ 37 attempts, only 22 were completed.
Florida State wide receiver Keon Coleman was the driving force for the Seminoles’ offense. He accounted for 122 of their 359 receiving yards, as well as three of their six touchdowns.
Though from Louisiana, the Opelousas native wanted to leave the state. Coleman appeared in 22 games with 12 starts at Michigan State and was rated as the No. 4 wide receiver upon entering the transfer portal in the 2023 offseason, according to 247Sports.
“I took it as a game, I get to go out and just do what the Lord has blessed me to do, just play football and be able to have fun with it and take every game as its own and just go out there and try to get the W,” Coleman said. “But it added a little salt to the wound. That’s my home state. A lot of my family are fans of them, but I ain’t much of a fan of them. I’m a Seminole now.”
Even after Coleman’s success, and place in the portal, LSU didn’t extend an offer. The coaching staff did anticipate the challenge he would present to the Tiger defense, though.
“There wasn’t any limited film on him,” Kelly said. “We knew who he was, and we knew he was a very difficult matchup for us. Excellent ball skills. A matchup problem for us and he presented that kind of problem tonight.”
Looking ahead, LSU will have the week to go back to the drawing board and start repairing the faults that led to its first loss. Its next game will be against Grambling State in Death Valley, and though anything can happen in the game of football, an easier opponent should allow the Tigers to regroup.
“When you have those kinds of losses, they are disappointing, and in some instances, they are devastating losses, but it’s how you respond to them,” Kelly said. “So the choices they will have to make will be the ones that start tomorrow. How they handle themselves 24/7 is really what I’ll be interested in seeing.