LSU will have to move forward without its star receiver. On Monday, it was reported and Ed Orgeron confirmed that wide receiver Kayshon Boutte would miss the remainder of the 2021 season with an ankle injury.
The Tigers will also be without Ali Gaye, Joseph Evans and Major Burns against the Gators according to Orgeron, on top of the long-term injuries to Derek Stingley, Andre Anthony, Todd Harris, John Emery.
The loss of Boutte is a massive hit to this offense. He's been the one consistently reliable source of production all season long, racking up 509 yards and nine touchdowns in five games this season.
Boutte's nine scores are tied for the most in college football and his absence is nearly an impossible one to overcome. LSU found success with him on the outside early in the season but in recent weeks had even moved him to the slot, where he really began to capitalize in the middle of the field.
In the meantime, it'll be up to the freshmen group of Deion Smith, Malik Nabers, Brian Thomas and Jack Bech to carry the load through the air. Each have had great starts to their careers as they've been thrust into prominent roles in this offense and drawn considerable praise from Orgeron and fellow players all season long.
"It's about somebody coming up and making some plays," Orgeron said. "I think you saw Malik Nabers do a lot of good things. I'm looking for him, Devonta Lee to step up in a bigger role. I think all of those guys have to step up, not just one guy."
Bech has been the leader of this group hauling in 22 catches for 272 yards and a touchdown, becoming one of Max Johnson's go-to third down weapons in the process. Though he's converted to tight end, he is quick like a receiver and has been a mismatch when lined up against linebackers.
Thomas has been more of the vertical threat of this group while Smith and Nabers have each had stellar individual performances this season but haven't had as much consistency. In total the four have combined for 54 total catches, 16 more than Boutte's 38 through five games.
The loss of Boutte will no doubt be a killer for this offense, which has already struggled in a number of areas this season. For LSU to have a chance this weekend against Florida, the freshmen will all have to step up.