BY DUDLEY E. DAWSON
While LSU’s SEC Co-Offense Players of the Week Jayden Daniels and Malik Nabors will be lining up against visiting Arkansas Saturday night in Baton Rouge, one former Razorback-turned-Tiger will not be able to play.
LSU head coach Brian Kelly confirmed during his Monday press conference that starting safety Greg Brooks, Jr., will be out for a second straight week due to a “medical emergency.”
Brooks, a Louisiana native, had 186 tackles and six interceptions with 31 starts and 34 games played for Arkansas (2-1, 0-0) before transferring to LSU (2-1, 1-0) before the 2022 season.
He’ll miss the 6 p.m. game that will be televised by ESPN nationally with announcers Chris Fowler and Kirk Herbstreit calling the action.
“I’m not going to speak on the family’s behalf,” Kelly said. “If there is anything that I can get to you further, after I speak with the family, I will certainly give you information.”
Razorback head coach Sam Pittman opened his Monday press conference by sending well wishes to Brooks, who the LSU players found out about on Thursday according to Nabors.
“I want to start out talking about Greg Brooks,” Pittman said. “I’m not positive what is going on with him, but they talked about a medical emergency. Greg was a wonderful kid when he was here and did a great job for us.
“Whatever it may be, I want him and his family and LSU to know that we’re concerned, we’re praying for him and we hope that he has a speedy recovery.
“I wish I knew more about it but I don’t. I do know a medical emergency means there’s something wrong, and our thoughts and prayers are with him and the LSU football team and community.”
LSU players vote to give Brooks a ceremonial game ball after the Tigers’ 41-14 thrashing of host Mississippi State in Starkville on Saturday.
The Tigers started seventh-year senior André Sam in Brooks’ place while limiting Mississippi State to just 201 yards total offense.
It was a suffocating effort from the start that frustrated Bulldogs standout quarterback Will Rogers into a 11 of 28 passing effort for 103 yards.
Rogers was sacked four times and endured nine pressures while being held to career lows in completions and yardage.
“Defensively holding Mississippi State to seven yards on their first three possessions,” Kelly said. “…It was a job well done.”
Kelly made it clear that he is looking for toughness on the field, such as he gets from All-SEC linebacker Harold Perkins, who shined in his team’s 14-10 win over the Razorbacks in Fayetteville last season.
“We’re looking for gentlemen off the field but not gentlemen on the field,” Kelly said. “I want tough guys on the field that play the game the right way. I don’t want teams that are penalized but we want tough guys on the field… We’re trying to find that identity and I think we’re getting close to that.”
The LSU offense was powered by quarterback Jayden Daniels (30 of 34 passing 361 yards, 2 TDs) and wideout Malik Nabors (13 catches 239 yards, 2 TDs), who were tabbed the league’s top offensive players for their efforts.
Nabors used his body to ward off defenders.
“He carves out an opportunity to catch the ball,” Kelly said. “He can hold his line and give the quarterback an opportunity.”
Kelly also pointed out the numbers of times that Daniels, who recorded his ninth 300-yard career passing game, delivered the ball under duress in the win.
Daniels also rushed 15 times for 64 yards and two more scores.
“I think if you really look at it closely, some of the things that maybe don’t get the attention was his presence in the pocket,” Kelly said. “How many times he got hit after delivering a great throw.”
LSU has bounced back with two wins after a disappointing second half in a season-opening loss to Florida State, who turned a 17-14 halftime deficit into a 45-24 victory.
Kelly, whose team bounced back with a 72-10 pummeling of visiting Grambling State, expects a tough game with Arkansas, par the course when the Tigers and Razorbacks have played.
“It is a hard fought game every time,” Kelly said. “I think the last three years it was decided by a total of nine points, I think…Our guys understand who they’re playing. They will be prepared for that.”
He is a big fan of Arkansas quarterback KJ Jefferson, who is 55 of 77 passing this season for 629 yards and 6 touchdowns with one interception and has also rushed for 80 yards and another score.
“He certainly feels like this is his year to showcase himself,” Kelly said. “He’s trying to make plays, but he has a lot of new players around him, so it isn’t only about him. He’s still the big, physical quarterback that scares you. We’re going to be prepared for him to play his best against us.”
LSU has converted 23 of 40 third downs and 4 of 8 fourth downs this season while Arkansas is 17 of 40 on 3rd down and 4 of 6 on 4th down.
“I think I use a combination of how the game feels and the analytics,” Kelly said. “Much of the analytics are more aggressive… When you have a quarterback that’s multi-dimensional, it puts the defense in a bind.”
Kelly also announced that tight end Mason Taylor, defensive end Ovie Oghoufo and linebacker Omar Speights are probable for Arkansas.
Taylor and Oghoufo were out with injuries last week while Speights was limited to just playing on special teams, but not healthy enough to play defense.