There must be some feeling of deja vu setting in for LSU fans.
The morning of the Tigers’ meeting with Mississippi State a year ago, LSU released a statement saying its star cornerback would miss the game after becoming “acutely ill” overnight. His absence was glaring as the Bulldogs threw for an SEC record 623 yards in a 44-34 win against the Tigers.
Flash forward one year—almost to the day—and it’s looking like LSU may be without Stingley yet again when it faces Mississippi State and the high-powered offense of head coach Mike Leach.
“He’s questionable,” Ed Orgeron said in his press conference Thursday night. “He re-injured the same injury that he had in camp, so we’ll have our doctors look at it. Very questionable for the game.”
The Tigers are hoping for a different outcome this go ’round without Stingley, but they’ll be relying on sophomore cornerback Dwight McGlothern to fill the void should Stingley be out Saturday.
McGlothern tallied 9 tackles and 2 passes defended in seven appearances a year ago and saw his first action of 2021 last week against Central Michigan, recording 2 tackles—1 for a loss—in the 49-21 win.
“Now is another guy’s chance,” Orgeron said. “Injuries are a part of the game. There’s nothing that we can do about it. It’s very unfortunate, but it’s the next-man-up theory, and that gives an opportunity for another guy to play. Thank God we got Dwight back (from injury). I think Dwight is a good corner. Everybody’s got to step up.”
LSU will have its hands full regardless, going up against a Mississippi State offense that has attempted 163 passes—the fourth-most in the nation—averaging 361 yards per game through the air.
K.J. Costello, the Bulldog quarterback who threw for the record-setting performance last year, was beaten out by sophomore Will Rogers for the starting job this year. Rogers is completing nearly 75% of his passes and has thrown for 8 touchdowns and just 1 interception so far this season.
“We have been looking at Mississippi State ever since we couldn’t stop them last year,” Orgeron said. “It was embarrassing. I was embarrassed as a coach, and I take full responsibility for it. All of the things that we saw last year, we have seen again on film. They’re very good at it … They have athletes all over the place. They know how to the throw the football and they know how to dissect defenses.”
One thing the Tigers do have going for them is dominance on the defensive line so far in 2021. LSU leads in the nation in total sacks (17), sack yards (118), tackles for loss (40) and tackle for loss yards (161), while also posting the 4th lowest blitz rate in the country.
If the Tigers can apply some pressure to Rogers, who has been sacked 6 times this year, it’ll take a lot of emphasis off Stingley’s absence and puts the onus on the LSU offense.
Sophomore quarterback Max Johnson started to find some rhythm last week, throwing for 372 yards and connecting with freshmen wideouts Deion Smith and Jack Bech for their first touchdowns in purple and gold.
Fellow freshman running back Corey Kiner also had a big showing, running for 74 yards on 12 carries with his first collegiate touchdown.
And if it wasn’t already shaping up to be a tough challenge, it’ll be all of the aforementioned players’ first trip to Starkville and Davis Wade Stadium—a venue known for its loud speakers and even louder cowbells.
“We’re going to play music all week,” Orgeron said. “They get those speakers really loud there. Their fans are involved. It’s going to be 11 o’clock in the morning. We’re going to have to wake our guys up and get going, but yes, it does provide a challenge. They get those cowbells going. It is one of the loudest stadiums we’re going to play in.”