LSU’s Brian Kelly Channels His Inner Deion For Vanished LB Harold Perkins – ‘Let Him Be Him’ In ‘Starksville’

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LSU outside linebacker Harold Perkins is missing.

And LSU coach Brian Kelly and defensive coordinator Matt House are trying to find him quickly before the No. 14 Tigers (1-1) play at Mississippi State (2-0) on Saturday (12 p.m., ESPN).

House, you see, and Kelly made Perkins disappear in LSU’s 45-24 loss to Florida State in the season opener two weeks ago after a switch to inside linebacker. Perkins returned for last week’s game on the outside, but that was in a 72-10 win over Grambling. His play did not really matter, and he provided only a glimpse of his former self.

Harold Perkins, LSU outside linebacker, has Ole Miss quarterback Jaxson Dart targeted in the Tigers’ win over the Rebels last season in Baton Rouge. (Photo by Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)

He will be needed much more Saturday. LSU is a nine-point favorite, and State no longer uses the successful, wide open Air Raid pass offense of coach Mike Leach, who passed away last December. The Bulldogs have become more of a run team under new coach Zach Arnett, State’s former defensive coordinator. But the Tigers will have to have the pass rushing and big play ability of Perkins against returning State senior quarterback Will Rogers. He is still dangerous when he does throw.

LSU’s Harold Perkins Needs To Return To 2022 Form

Florida State quarterback Jordan Travis was not sacked once by the Tigers on Sept. 3 as he completed 23 of 31 for 342 yards and four touchdowns in a runaway victory.

Perkins had just two solo tackles and three assists in the loss to the Seminoles with no sacks or quarterback hurries at a new position – inside linebacker. Against Grambling on the outside, he produced two quarterback hurries.

In 2021 as a freshman outside linebacker with more free rein, Perkins terrorized opposing quarterbacks. He led all Power Five schools with 7.5 sacks and with 13 tackles for loss – two numbers that were No. 3 and No. 2 in the SEC, respectively. Perkins added 14 quarterback hurries, forced four fumbles and made 72 tackles, including 39 solo stops.

The Football Writers Association of America, ESPN, The Athletic and College Football News named him a freshman All-American. The Associated Press named him All-SEC first team.

LSU Coach Brian Kelly Plans On Letting Perkins Play Free

But he has been a linebacker without a country and too many boundaries so far this season.

“We’re going to put him more outside – let him be him, open up some opportunities,” Kelly said this week. “We want to free him up a little bit. He had a lot of responsibility playing inside. We just needed to let him go and let him play fast.”

Basically, Kelly and House decided to shed the analysis that led to paralysis on the inside in the opener.

“We felt like with all the things that we had asked him to do, we probably slowed him down a little bit,” Kelly admitted.


Good for Kelly to admit the mistake by House of making Perkins disappear. Kelly has had trouble admitting mistakes in the past. He never really came clean about his ridiculous attempt at a Louisiana accent when he left Notre Dame for LSU after the 2021 season. And he actually tried to say last week that he didn’t say this before the FSU game – “We’re going to go beat the heck out of Florida State.”

That comment, by the way, is on tape.

Kelly is coming clean about Perkins. He and House over-coached.

“One of the things we have to do as coaches is know where your players are relative to playing fast,” he said. “I think we made the right decision (to put him back outside). And now we’ll refine what we can do with him. We can move him around. We can move him inside and outside and do some things that can keep him in a position to impact the game. And that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Brian Kelly And Matt House To Let Harold Perkins Just Play

Hmm, maybe Kelly should channel his inner Deion Sanders more and perhaps give Perkins a look at wide receiver or tight end. It has worked for Sanders at Colorado as he has superstar cornerback Travis Hunter also playing wide receiver. Perkins is that type of player.

With Harold Perkins at least back in the right position on the outside, Kelly can now return to his speaking problems. The latest is this. With the Tigers playing in Starkville, Mississippi, Saturday, he referred to State’s hometown as “Starksville.”

Here we go again.

Written by Glenn Guilbeau

Guilbeau joined OutKick as an SEC columnist in September of 2021 after covering LSU and the Saints for 17 years at USA TODAY Louisiana. He has been a national columnist/feature writer since the summer of 2022, covering college football, basketball and baseball with some NFL, NBA, MLB, TV and Movies and general assignment, including hot dog taste tests.

A New Orleans native and Mizzou graduate, he has consistently won Associated Press Sports Editors (APSE) and Football Writers Association of America (FWAA) awards since covering Alabama and Auburn at the Mobile Press-Register (1993-98) and LSU and the Saints at the Baton Rouge Advocate (1998-2004). In 2021, Guilbeau won an FWAA 1st for a game feature, placed in APSE Beat Writing, Breaking News and Explanatory, and won Beat Writer of the Year from the Louisiana Sports Writers Association (LSWA). He won an FWAA columnist 1st in 2017 and was FWAA's top overall winner in 2016 with 1st in game story, 2nd in columns, and features honorable mention.

Guilbeau completed a book in 2022 about LSU's five-time national champion coach - "Everything Matters In Baseball: The Skip Bertman Story" - that is available at, and Barnes & Noble outlets. He lives in Baton Rouge with his wife, the former Michelle Millhollon of Thibodaux who previously covered politics for the Baton Rouge Advocate and is a communications director.

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