Winning cures most, healthy LSU welcomes Arkansas

Published 10:00 am Tuesday, September 19, 2023

LSU should be back to near full strength Saturday when the Tigers host Arkansas Saturday, but missing a few players last week didn’t seem to hurt the Tigers in a 41-14 rout of Mississippi State.

Head coach Brian Kelly said the lone missing starter should be safety Greg Brooks, who suffered a “medical emergency” at some point last week, a setback that Kelly said he can’t elaborate on without the family’s permission.

Kelly said he expects to get back linebacker Omar Speights and tight end Mason Taylor, both of whom had “lower body injuries.”

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They were replaced last week by freshmen who held up well amidst the cowbells in Starkville, Mississippi.

Whit Weeks, in particular, stepped in for Speights, and led the team with eight tackles along with a quarterback hurry. Ryan Yates saw most of the playing time in place of Brooks.

Mac Markway was the tight end and came away with a catch for 5 yards and held his own blocking while another freshman, Lance Heard, is getting more and more reps in the offensive line.

“With Weeks, we knew what we had,” Kelly said. “Certainly a true freshman, but he can run all over the field. He’s extremely athletic. He has elite speed at the position, he can cover the field and run down mistakes.

“And if he sees an open gap, he’s going to take it. You saw that early in the game. There’s some things he needs to work on. But when you have a guy that’s that athletic (and) has a real sense of pass coverage … that’s probably the reason he’s out there. He’s not lost in anything.”

Also, defensive end Ovie Oghoufo was limited to special teams, forcing transfer Bradyn Swinson into more playing time.

“We’re going to play the best players,” said Kelly, who’s never been shy about playing freshmen. “If you’re a freshman and you can handle it mentally and physically, we’ll put you on the field.”

HONORS: For all the contributions from new faces, two veterans stole the show and quarterback Jayden Daniels and wide receiver Malik Nabors were honored as the Southeastern Conference’s co-offensive players of the week.

REPRIEVE: On the surface, LSU star offensive tackle Garrett Dellinger had a rough game. He jumped offsides when LSU was gambling on fourth down on its first drive, forcing a field goal attempt, and later was called for holding to negate a long gain. But Kelly said the false start was the center’s fault for not snapping the ball on the right count. As for the holding penalty, Kelly said, “We all know about holding right? It was debatable on that call.” Kelly was less forgiving for the flag Dellinger got for a retaliatory head butt. “When you’re a captain you’ve got to make better decisions,” Kelly said. “But that’s the first time I’ve even talked to him about making a bad decision going into his sophomore year. So I think we’re on the plus side with him.”

TUBING: LSU’s game at Ole Miss next week will kick off at 5 p.m. on ESPN.