LSU Football Gets Worse: DT Maason Smith Out For The Season With Knee Injury

BATON ROUGE - The fallout on LSU's splat showing in its season opening, 24-23 loss to mediocre Florida State on Sunday night continues.

And this is far worse than the four-game academic suspension of senior backup Arkansas transfer safety Joe Foucha, who did not play Sunday as his suspension began.

Sophomore starting defensive tackle Maason Smith, a cornerstone of the Tigers' defense, is done for the season after he tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on the first series against Florida State. He jumped in celebration of a play and landed badly on this knee.

Smith (6-foot-5, 300 pounds) was the No. 1 defensive tackle in the nation, No. 2 overall prospect in the country and No. 1 player in the state out of Terrebonne High in Houma, La., in 2021, according to, which broke the Smith injury story on Monday.


A freshman All-American by the Football Writers Association of America in 2021, Smith also made the All-SEC freshmen team after sacking the quarterback four times in nine games last year. On the season, he had 19 tackles.

LSU (0-1), which hosts Southern (1-0) Saturday (7:30 p.m. eastern, SEC Network) could have used Smith against Florida State. The Tigers allowed 392 yards of total offense and 11 third down conversions out of 17 attempts with zero sacks of quarterback Jordan Travis, who completed 20 of 33 passes for 260 yards and two touchdowns.

Senior defensive end Ali Gaye had two tackles and no quarterback hurries. Junior defensive end and preseason All-American B.J. Ojulari, who received the coveted No. 18 jersey before this season that annually goes to a top player, had six tackles and three quarterback hurries, but no sacks.

"We had a hard time getting him on the ground, quite frankly," LSU coach Brian Kelly said of Travis. "And we have some pretty good players that couldn't get him on the ground. We didn't tackle very well. We didn't communicate as effectively as we needed to on the back end of our defense. And again, that's coaching and execution. We're all in this together."

Kelly said Tuesday at his press conference that LSU had 16 missed tackles against Travis alone.

Sophomore Mekhi Wingo, a sophomore transfer from Missouri, replaced Smith and made six tackles. He made the SEC All-Freshmen last year as he had 27 tackles and one sack through 11 games and three starts.


Kelly will be focusing on special teams as well before Southern and LSU's SEC opener on Sept. 17 against Mississippi State (1-0). The Tigers suffered a blocked field goal and a critical blocked extra point that ended the game with no time remaining instead of sending it into overtime. Punt returner Malik Nabers fumbled two punt returns.

"That might be the worst performance by a special teams unit in college football history," ESPN's Stephen A. Smith said. "I mean, it's up there."

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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.