Austin Appleby walked into his press conference on Monday morning with his left ankle tapped. The Purdue transfer said, “It’s Monday. Everybody’s a little banged up, but nothing to worry about.” Appleby may be fine but the Florida Gators injury report grew on Monday, just five days before a big test against the LSU Tigers.
Most notably, the Gators will be without most of their starting defensive line this week. Joey Ivie (thumb) missed the Vanderbilt game and is out again this week as he continues to work his way back from surgery. Jordan Sherit will have his left knee scoped and will miss several weeks. Bryan Cox Jr. played a limited role against the ‘Dores and could be out or still limited this week against LSU.
Vanderbilt was able to rush for 144 yards on 37 carries against the depleted Florida front and the Gators face a much more difficult task this week against LSU.
“At the end of the day, you have to stop the run to be successful,” McElwain said on Monday. “They’ve got a rested Fournette. He’s as good as he is and obviously he’s going to be hungry because he saw what the other guy did. They’ll be a little competition there, I think.”
Leonard Fournette missed LSU’s 42-7 win over Missouri last week and has only played in three of the Tigers’ five games this season. He’s averaging 22.3 carries per game and more than five yards per carry this season.
“He is as he’s advertised,” linebacker Alex Anzalone said. “He is the best back in the country, so it’s just a challenge for us. Watching us play against him in the past, it’s worked out kind of in his favor.”
In two career games against the Gators Fournette has 320 yard and four touchdowns on 58 carries.
Fournette’s absence didn’t stop LSU from steamrolling Missouri. In their first game without Les Miles on the sideline since 2004 LSU amassed more total yards (634) than any other Tiger team in history, with 418 of those coming on the ground.
Sophomore running back Derrius Guice led the way 17 carries for 163 yards and three scores. Junior Darrel Williams tacked on 130 yards on 21 carries and three more touchdowns.
Florida still boasts the SEC’s second best rushing defense (90 yards per game) but have given up 323 yards the past two weekends. Florida will be low on numbers when they host LSU but these are the kinds of games that you sign up for when you play football at the University of Florida. LSU will provide Florida its biggest test of the season this Saturday and it will have to be a family affair on defense if the Gators wish to contain the run.
“We’ve just got to play sound, assignment football,” said Anzalone. “That’s really all there is to it every game, whoever we’re playing. So I think just gang-tackling and everything like that and we’ll be alright.”