LSU enjoyed a mostly successful opening act to conference play on Saturday against Mississippi State. A number of veteran players stepped up to help the purple and gold pick up a critical win and all will be relied on moving forward as well.
But there are three who really stick out as having profound impacts on this game right from the start.
Cordale Flott (CB)
If there was an MVP of the defense, it was the third year corner Flott, who set the tone with his forced fumble and interception in the first quarter. Flott has spent most of his career as the nickel corner for the Tigers but was all over the field on Saturday against the Bulldogs.
Those two plays gave LSU the momentum in an otherwise rather bland first half. It sparked the defensive effort in holding Mississippi State to three first half points until the offense could get clicking in the second half.
"When Cordale got the turnovers, we were happy for them," safety Jay Ward said. "That let the defense know everybody has a chance to make an impact, get a turnover."
Flott would record eight total tackles, fourth on the team for the afternoon. This secondary will be moving forward without the services of Derek Stingley and Flott will be a key cornerstone piece until Stingley can potentially return.
Kayshon Boutte (WR)
Boutte continues to be one of the elite college receivers dating to last season and the connection he's built with quarterback Max Johnson has been truly special. The two connected for four catches, 85 yards and two touchdowns in the win over the Bulldogs.
For the season, Boutte has now caught eight touchdowns and 309 yards on 24 receptions. Dating back to last season Johnson and Boutte have connected on 13 touchdowns, averaging over two per game when the two share the field.
"I really liked the win but I feel like we could've put up more points as an offense but sometimes you gotta be grateful you won," Boutte said.
One of the most recent developments has been to move Boutte to the slot, where he has really thrived in the middle of the field. It's a way to not only get him lined up with linebackers and slot corners but also open up some one on one matchups for the freshmen like Deion Smith and Brian Thomas, who combined for 62 yards receiving on Saturday.
The rapport between Johnson and Boutte has proven quite rare and will be critical for the Tigers to continue the success they've had through the air.
Damone Clark (LB)
The veteran linebacker was all over the field against the Bulldogs combining for 15 tackles throughout the game. As one of the No. 18 on this roster, Clark has been one of the vocal leaders on the team and was proud of the defensive effort the team gave against Mississippi State.
"We know what happened last year but we just wanted to make sure the past is the past. Just make sure the same thing didn't happen this year. I'm proud of our defense. We gotta keep fighting til the end but I'm proud of the way we fought."
Clark has struggled at times in coverage throughout his career but he was able to make an impact on Saturday by keeping everything in front of him and not missing tackles. With Auburn right around the corner, this group will need Clark's leadership and continual improvement from the linebackers throughout the season, particularly with Derek Stingley down.