What CB Sevyn Banks' potential return means for LSU football secondary
BATON ROUGE - He was almost ready to go for the season opener.
LSU football cornerback Sevyn Banks wanted to play in the season opener against Florida State, according to coach Brian Kelly. But the Tigers' medical staff held out the Ohio State transfer against the Seminoles and last week versus Southern just to make sure that he was 100%.
"He was probably 90%," Kelly said on Monday about Banks' health status before the Florida State game. "And there was really no need (to push him).
Kelly and the Tigers (1-1) hope their patience with Banks' health pays off this week when LSU will need the cornerback against Mississippi State's Air Raid in Tiger Stadium on Saturday (5 p.m., ESPN).
"This is a game where (we'll need) all hands on deck at that position," Kelly said. "So the expectation is right now that he's going to be dressed out and we're going to know here Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, how that eventually puts him into the rotation.
"He's at the cusp of playing."
LSU's cornerbacks room entering the season was a perceived weakness on paper. The Tigers entered the year with only transfers in the starting lineup and depth concerns after that – mainly freshmen and walk-ons.
McNeese State transfer Colby Richardson stepped up into a bigger role than anticipated and the unit was the least of LSU's problems in the first two games. Oklahoma State transfer Jarrick Bernard-Converse has only allowed three receptions and Louisiana transfer Mekhi Garner owns three pass breakups to his name already.
But Florida State and Southern's passing attacks were never expected to be as efficient as the Bulldogs' Air Raid.
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Under coach Mike Leach's offense, Mississippi State (2-0) runs one of the most pass-happy offenses in college football. The Bulldogs have already attempted 97 passes and have dropped back to throw 103 times in only two games, according to Pro Football Focus.
And it's not only the volume of pass attempts, the pace and success rate of Mississippi State's attack are prolific. Bulldogs quarterback Will Rogers has an adjusted completion percentage (the percentage of throws that were on target) of 85.7% and nine touchdown passes. They've also run 22 more pass plays than LSU through two games.
"I have such great respect for Coach Leach," Kelly said. "Obviously it starts with the offense. It is a precision offense. It is extremely well-coached. And there is a level of, I would say, patience and persistence that you need on defense."
That's why Banks' presence this week is so crucial. Not only is he another cornerback LSU can mix into the rotation, but he's also an SEC-level starter. He was a key contributor to Ohio State's run to the national championship game in 2020 and earned third-team preseason All-American honors last season before injuries derailed his campaign.
Banks won't be the focal point of LSU's secondary this week. However, against Mississippi State's up-tempo and high-flying attack, LSU is going to need him and the rest of the secondary to be prepared.
"This is going to come down to our guys' attention to detail," Kelly said.
Koki Riley covers LSU sports for The Daily Advertiser and the USA TODAY Sports South Region. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter at @KokiRiley.