February 1, 2023

Before Saturday’s SEC championship game between No. 1 Georgia and No. 14 LSU, head coach of the Tigers Brian Kelly praised the Bulldogs, explaining how the defending champion is a reflection of the head coach Kirby Smart. Georgia is trying to capture the conference championship after eluding the prize in a loss to Alabama last season. Kelly (at Notre Dame) and Smart faced each other twice as head coaches, both wins for Smart and the Bulldogs. Kelly shared some of what he learned about Georgia and Smart from those meetings.

“They’re really good and well trained,” Kelly said. “Good player. Very competitive games. One of them was at home, one of them was away. It was a great atmosphere. It’s just really good college football soccer team that has the style of their head coach. You will play a great defense. You will be physically on both sides of the ball. Such is the nature of a well-trained soccer team that has won one national championship and is competing for another. You know what you’re going to get here.

“I mean, everything’s going to be very difficult. Nothing’s going to be easy. You’ve got to earn everything. Honestly, that’s the exciting part about it. You know what you’re going to get. You’re going to get a really well-trained football team that’s going to be run by is fundamentally healthy and she will play hard for four quarters and it will also challenge your football team to do their best. It doesn’t get any better than that.”

The fate of LSU will depend largely on quarterback Jayden Daniels’ performance. Despite wearing a hiking boot earlier this week, Kelly said Daniels will be available. He enters the SEC championship with 2,566 and 15 passing touchdowns and 824 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground.

Daniel’s most notable performance this season was LSU’s 31-30 overtime win over Alabama on November 5, when he was responsible for 177 yards of offense and three touchdowns. His best stats came three weeks earlier in the Tigers’ 45-35 win over Florida, when he rushed for 349 yards and had six touchdowns.

Daniels, an Arizona transfer, threw for 32 touchdowns and ran for 13 points in three seasons with the Sun Devils. Daniels’ strongest season at Tempe was 2019 as a freshman when he threw 17 touchdowns on two interceptions. Daniels threw 10 touchdowns along with 10 interceptions last year but enjoyed his best collegiate season with LSU.

“Yeah, I don’t like making comparisons,” Smart said of Daniel’s ability. “He’s extremely athletic. He’s got a great arm, great clearance. He has a lot of talented players around him. I remember watching him play and I knew he was going to be a good player. They invested in him . They talk about it. He’s improved a lot from game one up to now, he’s improved incredibly. They’ve done a great job with him.”

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The duel between LSU and Georgia is scheduled to begin at 3:00 p.m. Saturday

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