LSU heads into the 2023 season surrounded by high expectations, but head coach Brian Kelly doesn’t consider the Tigers to be on the same level as the SEC’s biggest powerhouses right now.

“The bar is set that you’re playing for championships,” Kelly said at SEC media days, according to ESPN’s Alex Scarborough. “But, again, that’s why I took the job.”

He added: “There’s two programs that are a model of that. It’s Georgia and Alabama. We’re new to that. And one of the reasons why I’m in this position is that there wasn’t consistency. So, building consistency, you’ve got to do it more than just one year. You’ve got to do it year in and year out. We’re not there yet.”

LSU added several players via the transfer portal this year, including former Notre Dame running back Logan Diggs. Kelly believes that gives the Tigers improved depth, though the 61-year-old said he’ll need some time to shape the roster while his players develop chemistry.

“That’s the first indication you’re not there yet, but we’re coming,” Kelly said. “We’re getting better, we have better depth. I think there’s a great sense that you can develop in this program. I think that’s why (backup quarterback) Garrett Nussmeier stayed and didn’t enter the transfer portal. He feels like he’s going to be developed.”

But Kelly said he’s optimistic LSU will soon be able to compete against Georgia, the reigning back-to-back national champion.

“Is the gap closing? We’ll only have that opportunity if we get into the championship game versus Georgia,” he said, according to Brett McMurphy of Action Network. “I know based on how we’ve recruited we’ll have a football roster that will be able to compete against Georgia. Is that right now? No, it’s not.”

LSU posted a 10-4 record in 2022, Kelly’s first year with the team. The Tigers’ surprising campaign included a dramatic overtime victory against Alabama and a Citrus Bowl win over Purdue.

The Tigers open their 2023 season against Florida State on Sept. 3.

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