Florida Gators at LSU Tigers Breakdown
Date: Saturday, October 17, 2015
Time: 7:00 PM
Last meeting: 2014 LSU defeated Florida 30-27 in Gainesville. Florida leads the all-time series 31-27-3 (and 16-15 in Baton Rouge).
Last time out:
- Florida defeated Missouri 21-3
- LSU defeated South Carolina 45-24
Meet the Tigers:
- Head Coach: Les Miles (108-29 in his 11th season at LSU)
- Conference: Southeastern Conference Western Division
- 2015 Overall Record: 5-0
- 2015 Conference Record: 3-0
- Rank: #6 in AP Poll/#5 in Coaches Poll
Player(s) to Watch:
- Sophomore Running Back, Leonard Fournette: Fournette has rushed for 1,022 yards in five games averaging 8.6 yards per carry with 12 touchdowns.
- Sophomore Quarterback, Brandon Harris: Harris has completed 57.3% of passes. He has only attempted 17.8 passes per game. He also has 4 passing touchdowns, three rushing touchdown and zero interceptions.
5 Things to Know About LSU:
- Les Miles is 46-4 in night games in Death Valley
- Les Miles is the second winningest coach in LSU history at 108-29.
- The Tigers average 346.4 yards rushing per game, which is 4th in the nation.
- LSU has outscored opponents 56-3 in the first quarter.
- 69% of LSU first downs have come running the ball. That is highest in the SEC by 10%.
5 Things to Pay Attention To:
- Florida’s mental state. Florida is coming off a news filled week off the field. Starting quarterback Will Grier was suspended for an NCAA violation and backup cornerback Deiondre Porter was removed for multiple felony charges. The Gators have had enough distractions this week to challenge their focus and approach to the game. Coach McElwain has been pleased thus far with the practices leading up to the game though, saying the team has moved on.
- Jim McElwain and Doug Nussmeier play calling. Now that Treon Harris has been re-inserted as the starter, Florida will likely balance out the run/pass ratio. Florida passed 60% of the time with Grier and only 49% with Treon running the offense.
- Brandon Harris’ pass attempts. Harris is averaging less than 18 pass attempts per game. Last week against South Carolina he attempted 28 completing 18. LSU will need Harris to complete throws to keep Florida safeties from living in the box to try and stop the LSU running game. If Harris is getting up into the mid to high 20’s that is not a good sign for the Tigers.
- Treon on the move. Florida became very thin at quarterback very quickly. Treon is a threat in the run game, but Florida cannot risk injury. Florida will limit his carries and could implement a package with someone else carrying the ball to take the load off of Harris.
- Les Miles craziness. Les Miles has the propensity to pull some tricks out of his hat in critical moments to win games. If this game comes down to it, expect something shocking from Miles that will not shock anyone.
5 Things to Expect:
- Fournette, Fournette and More Fournette. If LSU is to win Fournette has to be effective and more than serviceable. I expect points in the game when Miles will ride the back of Fournette. Will Florida be able to hold up for four quarters?
- Florida sticks to their winning formula. Despite losing Grier, Florida’s plan to win does not change. If Florida plays good defense, is efficient on offense and does not beat themselves, they will be in a position to win. Treon has the ability to maintain the efficiency portion of the offense and in some cases provide different wrinkles that we have not seen to this point in the season.
- A Brawl. Les Miles’ teams have always played hard and physical and this Gator team continues to show they can give some serious body blows. When Florida and LSU have been on equal ground they have produced some classic games. The team that can withstand the others blows on Saturday will walk away with the victory.
- Protected Quarterbacks. Not because of the offensive lines, but because I don’t believe either staff will attempt to put it in the hands of their quarterbacks to win the game. Harris will be in a new world against the Florida pass rush and Treon at his best is managing and making plays when things break down.
- More Tight Ends. Florida’s tight ends have become a major component in the offense. I believe McElwain and Nussmeier to give Treon some easy throws to the talented group of tight ends. This will hopefully open up some areas on the field for the receivers to work on the outside.
5 Keys to Victory:
- Start fast, build confidence. When going on the road in tough environments, getting off to a solid start is essential. Florida has shown that ability this year and that can’t change on Saturday. If the Gators can get an early lead it will keep the crowd at bay and then give the Gators defense a chance to control the game.
- Win early Downs, Dominate on 3rd. If Florida is to pull of a shocker in Death Valley they will have to continue doing what they do best. Getting LSU off of their plan to win will be essential. Last week Missouri was 1/14 on 3rd down. If LSU is in 3rd down and long frequently, the Gators are doing what it takes to win.
- Running game more than serviceable. The last three weeks the Gators have shown improvement in the running game and have been just good enough for defenses to pay attention. Florida Gators football team will need more from the running game this week with Grier out. In SEC play, 86% of running back carries (and 63% of all carries) have been by Kelvin Taylor, which could change this week with Florida most likely attempting to be more 50/50 in the running and passing game.
- Secondary control the backend. Florida holds the advantage over most passing games in the country because of the quality in the secondary. This week will present another challenge, because LSU will present a power running game, Florida’s DB’s will need to be disciplined against the play-action and they will also be asked to be aggressive in the run game. Keanu Neal and Marcus Maye will need to come up big if Florida is going to win.
- Keep Hunting. Florida has been doubted all year and has proved many wrong. They have played with a chip on their shoulder all year and that fire has allowed this team to get to the point where they are now. Florida will be the hunter in the bayou come Saturday evening and they will need that attitude to slow down Fournette and Co.
5 Signs It Was a Good Day:
- Defense keeps Fournette in check. Florida does not necessarily have to shut down Fournette to win the game, but they do need to keep him significantly under his yards per carry average of 8.6. Fournette is near 24 carries per game; 4 yards per carry is a major difference than 8.
- Treon is Treon. Playing in Death Valley is a daunting task. If Treon can continue to maintain the composure he has shown throughout his career that will go a long way to this offense maintaining the efficiency it has shown with Grier under center. Treon has played in front of big crowds before and he will be ready come Saturday night.
- Brandon Harris pass attempts near or above 25. LSU’s lives and dies on the power running game. They want to beat their opponent into submission. If the Tigers are not dominate in the run game or get behind, will Miles trust Harris to throw against the Florida secondary?
- Win the turnover battle. Against Ole Miss, the Florida defense created multiple short field opportunities for the offense that put the game out of reach. Ole Miss has an explosive offense and the turnovers crippled them; multiple turnovers would be devastating for the Tigers who rely on the running game to control the game.
- Win the Explosive plays. Fournette has been the primary big play threat for the Tigers but the Gators have shown they have some guys who can make plays as well. Florida has to find a way to create a few chunk plays to win this game.
I have gone back and forth on this game all week. All the odds are against this Florida team coming into the game. They are on the road in a very hostile environment, LSU has arguably the best player in the country and Florida has all the reasons to not be completely focused with the news coming down. I am still wavering while writing this now, but I think this is a unique Gator team and somehow and some way the Gators find a way to win this game. Teams have found ways to move the ball against the LSU defense and I think the Gators’ defense will come up with one more stop than LSU to help pull off the victory. I haven’t picked against the Gators yet and won’t change that until they give me a reason to.
Florida 20 LSU 17