LSU faces an uphill climb to get back into a higher tier of the college football hierarchy. The purple and gold can't afford to slow down any further which makes the balancing act over the next few weeks extremely interesting.
The Tigers will be without numerous starters, including offensive linemen Austin Deculus and Cam Wire while running back John Emery and safety Jay Ward's status is very much up in the air at the moment as well. Ed Orgeron and his staff will be forced to plug up the holes at numerous positions this weekend while simultaneously trying to correct multiple issues on both sides of the ball.
It's a challenging task but one that allows for a little breathing room before the intensity of SEC play kicks in. The next two weeks should theoretically be about experimenting with different players, throwing a bunch of guys out there to see who pops on the field. But with so many issues that need correcting, Orgeron doesn't see a path to throwing a bunch of the younger players out there early in the game.
"It's moving forward with the guys we have. We gotta play better. You never can tell, McNeese is gonna come in here and give us a game," Orgeron said. "These guys are gonna come play their best game, there's no planning on pulling back, we've gotta get better with our football team. If we can put guys in at the end, we can put them in. We've got to play our best to get this taste out of our mouths and start feeling good."
There weren't many opportunities for the young freshmen to make plays in the UCLA loss, particularly on offense. All offseason the word out of the program was how far ahead this freshman receiver class was and yet hardly any saw the field against the Bruins.
Jack Bech and Brian Thomas were the only two freshmen to make significant plays in the first quarter of the game but weren't targeted much afterwards. Orgeron was pleased with the short time they did have on the field but wants to see them more involved with the offense moving forward.
"Excellent, they've been excellent in camp, all of our young receivers have made some good plays, made some good catches," Orgeron said. "Brian Thomas looked like he belonged out there and we need to play him more."
This week two matchup with McNeese, if all goes to plan, could allow for even more freshmen to see the field, including two Orgeron was hoping to see last week. Quarterback Garrett Nussmeier and running back Corey Kiner each had fantastic fall camps and with two winnable games over the next two weeks, Orgeron is hoping to find time for each to get their feet wet.
"Hopefully I can get Garrett in this week, let him play and get some snaps and see what he can do. I want those guys to play. Kevin [Faulk] wanted to put Corey in last week but it just wasn't the opportune time. The kid deserves a chance, those guys I plan on playing this week for sure."