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BATON ROUGE, La. – LSU football coach Brian Kelly did not need the new NCAA rules passed Friday for the 2023 season to shorten his spring game Saturday.
The third and fourth quarters were cut from 15 to 10 minutes, and there was a running clock the whole game. This cut the the scrimmage to one hour and 15 minutes, which is about three hours less than a normal game. It was also a fraction of your usual fall tailgating session in these parts.
Kelly also ruled no overtime after LSU tied LSU, 32-32, on a 34-yard field goal by Damian Ramos with 49 seconds left in front of a sparse crowd at Tiger Stadium.
“Tie game? I would’ve went for two,” Kelly joked as that option was not available.
Kelly knows going for two, though. He went against conventional coaching wisdom by going for two at home in overtime last November 5 against No. 6 Alabama.
After LSU scored a touchdown with the second possession of OT to get within 31-30, quarterback Jayden Daniels rolled out on a run-pass option. He threw a 3-yard touchdown to tight end Mason Taylor for the walk-off, 32-31 victory. And LSU went on to win the SEC West and finish 10-4 and Kelly’s first season.
Brian Kelly On New Rules
Kelly likes the new rules designed to shorten the game for player safety. This season, the clock will no longer stop after first downs, except for the last two minutes of each half. Penalties at the end of the first and third quarters will be assessed at the start of the next quarter to avoid dead-time downs. And back-to-back timeouts during the same stoppage in play will no longer be allowed. Coaches often called consecutive timeouts in the past to ice opposing kickers before a field goal.
“Well, we worked on them all day today,” Kelly mused. “We were very intentional about it today. But look, I mean, we’re talking about the hope to shorten the game. But this is not like the changes in Major League Baseball, where you’re going to knock 30 minutes off a game.”
Possibly, college football games in Division I and II could be shortened by seven to 10 plays a game. Division III will remain under the same rules.
“We’re talking about clock running after first downs,” Kelly said. “But if you really look at it, I don’t know that that changes structurally the way you go about doing things. Because they’re stopping the clock in the last two minutes before the half and the game, that still is really where all the strategy takes place.”
College Football Changes Conservative
Had the rules committee really wanted to get brave, it could’ve tried to keep the clock running after first downs in the final seconds.
“If that clock was running in the last two minutes, believe me, there’d be a lot of work going on around here,” Kelly said. “I think it’s good for the game. I think if it can speed up the game a little bit, I think that’s great. It’s when the clock starts running after incomplete passes, then you’ll have a lot of people worried about how that’s going to change the game.”
Kelly sees Daniels picking up in 2023 where he left off in the Alabama game last season. Daniels completed 22 of 32 passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns while rushing for 95 yards on 18 carries and another touchdown in LSU’s first home win over the Tide since 2010. He injured his ankle in a loss to Texas A&M three weeks later and aggravated it in a loss to Georgia in the SEC title game.
LSU Offense Led By Healthier QB Jayden Daniels
Daniels completed 10 of 11 passes Saturday for 168 yards with two touchdowns – 70 yards to wide receiver Kyren Lacy and 15 yards to tailback Trey Holly. He also rushed twic for 19 yards.
“We think he is committed to being the best quarterback in the country,” Kelly said. “We’ve seen that in his work ethic. I think he was on the verge of moving in that direction throughout last season. His play dictated that until he got injured.”
Daniels has put on close to 15 pounds to 205.
“Physically, he’s getting bigger and stronger,” Kelly said. “He’s leading our offense, leading our entire team. I don’t think there’s any reason not to think he would be the next version of that (last year). That means not only one of many good quarterbacks in the SEC, but one of the best quarterbacks in the country.”
Can LSU also take that next step?
“Well, I think we’re getting closer to that,” Kelly said. “Clearly the area of concern for us is in depth.”
That is particularly true on the offensive line, where Kelly had to move several defensive linemen over just to have a second team in spring drills.
“We’re not at 85 yet,” he said. “Two or three key injuries puts us in a very difficult position. We should be able in the SEC West to sustain some key injuries to key players. I don’t believe we’re at that point yet. If we – knock on wood – stay injury free and continue to develop, we’re going to be fine.”