LSU star Smith set for ’23 debut vs. Grambling

LSU star defensive tackle Maason Smith is expected to play his first game in more than a year Saturday against Grambling.

LSU coach Brian Kelly said Wednesday that the goal is for Smith to play around 30 snaps in the Tigers’ home opener.

Smith, who was named to the Freshman All-SEC team in 2021, has been working his way back from a season-ending knee injury he suffered during last year’s Week 1 game against Florida State. He was suspended for last Saturday’s season-opener against the Seminoles after the NCAA determined he received an improper benefit, according to The (Baton Rouge) Advocate.

LSU lost to Florida State 45-24 in Orlando and dropped from No. 5 to 14 in the Associated Press Poll.

Missing Smith’s 6-foot-6, 315-pound frame in the middle of the defense, the Tigers gave up 135 yards rushing and had no sacks.

“This is a total failure from a coaching standpoint and a player standpoint that we have to obviously address and we have to own,” Kelly said after the loss. “I know adversity is always going to strike at some time in this game, and this is our first real piece of adversity that we have to address. I’m confident our guys and our coaches will rally in the manner that they need to.”

LSU will open SEC play with a trip to Mississippi State on Sept. 16.

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