The rivalry is back! The 20th ranked Florida Gators will host their SEC West rivals, the LSU Tigers this Saturday. The Gators are coming off a 38-24 win over the Vanderbilt Commodores and the Tigers will look to rebound after a devastating 24-21 home loss to the Troy Trojans. This game that has always been an exciting game against bitter rivals but since the hurricane situation last year, the rivalry has intensified and now there is a hatred between the two teams. Last season, the Florida Gators went into Baton Rouge and beat the LSU Tigers 16-10 on a goal line stop at the one yard line. Will this year’s game be as exciting as last season?
The LSU Tigers football program is going through a very tough time as they suffered their first non-conference loss since the Nick Saban era. There is a lot of negativity around the program regarding the coaching staff and the issues on offense. Senior QB Danny Etling has been starting for the Tigers all season long but has not looked good this season. LSU’s offensive problems have led to the Purdue transfer experiencing several injuries this season. Also, their running game has become another difficulty with the injury of Derrius Guice. Guice is expected to play this week but it will be devastating if he isn’t able or the Florida defense forces Etling to beat them with his arm. LSU’s offense has a lot of things they need to fix before they play the Gators.
Not only is the LSU offense having issues, but also their defense isn’t as elite as they have been in the past. The Tigers defense has been plagued with injuries. Further, they lost a lot of talent to the NFL Draft. There are still some really good players on the LSU defense. Arden Key is expected to go in the first round but, he hasn’t had the season LSU fans were hoping for.
While the LSU has been banged up for most of the season, there are some positives. The LSU secondary led by Kevin Toliver Jr., is still one of the best in the SEC. If LSU wants to have success on defense, they must stop Florida’s rushing attack. The defensive line player to watch out for is Christian LaCouture. The senior defensive end is coming off a great performance against the Trojans with 12 tackles and two sacks.
The Florida Gators are coming off their best offensive performance this season. The offense put up 467 yards of offense and 38 points on the scoreboard last weekend against Vanderbilt. The offense looked really good but they did lose Luke Del Rio for the year and WR Tyrie Cleveland for this game. Redshirt-freshman Feleipe Franks will get his fourth start this season against a team he knows pretty well. Franks was originally committed to the LSU Tigers but flipped to Florida. This game means a lot for him but the rushing attack and offensive line will need to be at their best. Florida’s running game has been working terrifically the last two games. They will really to turn it up a notch as LSU will try to stop the run. Receivers like Kadarius Toney, Josh Hammond, and Freddie Swain need to step up with the absence of Cleveland.
The Florida defense will also need to be at their very best. The Tigers offense is not at its best and they need to exploit them. Guice should be the main target but if he isn’t able to play, Florida must put a lot of pressure on Danny Etling. The senior quarterback has a 20% completion percentage against the blitz. The LSU offense has been banged up and the Florida defense must play aggressively. Expect more blitzes from the Florida defense, which will put a lot of pressure on Etling and force him to make bad throws. If Randy Shannon gets creative and pressures Etling, the Florida defense should be in good shape.
5 Players to Watch: LSU
- RB Derrius Guice (if he plays)
- CB Kevin Toliver Jr.
- DE Arden Key
- WR D.J. Chark
- DE Christian LaCouture
5 Players to Watch: Florida
- RB Malik Davis
- DE Jabari Zuniga
- RB Lamical Perine
- LB David Reese
- WR Kadarius Toney
- Florida rushes for over 150 yards.
- D.J. Chark leads LSU in receiving yards
- Florida gets 3+ sacks.
- LSU gets at least one rushing touchdown.
- Florida beats LSU 27-17.