Does DJ Humphries have a shot to start?

Florida football coach Will Muschamp did not rule out DJ Humphries’ chances of starting against No. 4 LSU at 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Humphries, a talented and improving true freshman, is pressing senior Xavier Nixon for playing time at left tackle for the No. 10 Gators.

During his meeting with the media on Wednesday, Muschamp was asked if he believes Humphries would be able to provide “quality time off of the bench or in a starting role” despite the Tigers’ defense posing such a difficult challenge?

“Whoever practices the best will play and we expect [Humphries] to do a championship job,” Muschamp said.

Muschamp said he has a lot of respect for LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis and the Tigers’ defense as a whole, especially the defensive line.

“This is probably as good a front four in college football,” Muschamp said. “You look at [defensive ends Barkevious] Mingo and [Sam] Montgomery and [Lavar] Edwards and [Jermauria] Rasco, the edge pressure they’re able to create with four guys rushing.

“They’re very talented across the board.”

Led by the big, fast bodies up front, LSU’s defense is second in the Southeastern Conference in total defense.

Blocking that front would be difficult task for a typical true freshman, but Humphries isn’t a typical true freshman. He’s listed at 6-foot-6, 275 pounds and was a consensus five-star prospect by recruiting services out of Charlotte (N.C.) Mallard Creek High. He also was the No. 2 prospect in the nation by

None of Humphries’ high school hype will matter come Saturday because, whether he starts or not, he’ll be lined up against one of the most dominant defensive ends in the nation. Montgomery, a 6-5, 260-pound junior, was a first-team All-American and Ted Hendricks Defensive End of the Year Award finalist in 2011.

Edwards is Montgomery’s backup and the 6-5, 258-pound senior brings experience, something Humphries cannot match.

Edwards and Montgomery have played in a combined 58 games and 25 starts.

Humphries has played in four — with no starts.

However, Humphries’ quickness may provide the best matchup for the Gators against LSU’s speedy defensive ends. By all accounts, Humphries — regardless of experience — is much quicker than Nixon.

“We have all the confidence in the world in him,” said UF quarterback Jeff Driskel, the player whose blindside Humphries would be protecting. “It’s definitely hard [for a true freshman to start], especially with the SEC defensive line that are so fast and have such good get off the ball. But he’s quick as well. He has great technique, and he’s a smart player.

“He’ll be fine.”

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Mike Capshaw brings a wealth of experience to the Gator Country team. He’s been overseeing all editorial aspects of and Gator Country magazine by managing our team of staffers, interns and freelancers. He is now moving into a bigger role as a reporter by covering the football and basketball beats as well as providing coverage of all sports on campus. Mike’s 15 years in the business has included more than six years of covering SEC sports and recruiting at a daily newspaper in Arkansas. He has also helped launch a newspaper, magazines, websites and even a sports talk radio show. Because Mike puts family ahead of his career, he left the place where he was established when his wife received an opportunity to further her career at UF. He took a leap of faith that he could find a job in the Gainesville area and worked for a year at a newspaper group before joining the Gator Country family in November, 2011. Mike has won Florida Press Association awards for Best Sports Game Story and Best Sports Feature Story in the past two years as well as a company-wide award at his former newspaper group that includes some 60 publications, for Excellence in Sports Reporting. You can follow Mike on Twitter at @MikeCapshawGC.