That’s the narrative that was spun by LSU fans when the Florida Gators postponed the original date with LSU as Hurricane Matthew barreled into the east coast of Florida. More than a month later LSU defensive end Arden Key is now echoing that sentiment.
“I know they’re scared to come up here because they don’t have all their stars or what not,” Key told The Times-Picayune.
It’s a silly narrative — football players being scared to play football but the Florida Gators hear the talk. They see the chatter on social media from fans and they’re adding that to their arsenal.
“I mean it’s a big rivalry game. I think the LSU game is one of the biggest games for us every season just like FSU, just like Georgia,” redshirt junior safety Nick Washington said. “I mean we’re going to go into it with a little more of a chip on our shoulder because what’s been said in the media and what not. I know we’re ready to go.”
The Florida Gators could be without seven starters this weekend when they travel to Baton Rouge, a trip to the SEC Championship on the line, but scared?
It was the SEC commissioner Greg Sankey that ultimately made the decision late the Thursday afternoon to postpone the game. As commissioner, Sankey has the power to postpone a conference game due to extreme circumstances but he does not, however, have he power to force those teams to then play at a specific date or time.
It was LSU Athletic Director Joe Alleva that dug his heels in the ground to not have his football team lose a home game. The city of Baton Rouge has gone through tough times recently and Alleva argued that the revenue of a home LSU football game meant to much to the city to have one be taken away because of something out of their control. It was Jeremy Foley and Florida that made the concession to give up not one, but two home games to travel to Baton Rouge and make sure the integrity of the SEC was protected by not having a game cancelled.
“I don’t think we’re scared,” junior cornerback Jalen Tabor said. “It says something about somebody who is going in someone else’s neighborhood when you’re supposed to come to our neighborhood and fight. I don’t see how that is scared at all.”
LSU and Florida both have something to play for this week. If Florida wins they clinch the SEC East and a berth into the SEC Championship game. Jim McElwain would become the first head coach to go to the SEC Championship game in each of his first two seasons. LSU on the other hand, has a chance to go to the Sugar Bowl with a strong finish to the season, a treat for many of the players from the state of Louisiana on the roster, and interim head coach Ed Orgeron is coaching for an opportunity to take off the interim tag and remain as head coach.
Florida has so much on the line this week that it shouldn’t be hard to focus in on practice and get ready for a tough opponent on the road, but LSU has continued to throw gasoline on the fire and give Florida bulletin board material.
“That just heightened the rivalry even more than that,” sophomore offensive tackle Fred Johnson said. “It’s really just for us to really just go out and show what we can do even though we had the game cancelled, you know the game was trying to get taken off the schedule and stuff, to get it back was really a great blessing for our team.”