Podcast: Midweek LSU preview with James Moran

GatorCountry brings you a new podcast as we’re joined by James Moran of Tiger Rag to preview the Florida Gators vs. LSU game on Saturday night.

Andrew Spivey and Nick de la Torre ask Moran about how the LSU offense has improved and we get his keys for the game on Saturday night in Baton Rouge.

Andrew and Nick also talk about the latest injury news for the Gators and how Kyle Trask is feeling, plus we talk about our keys for the game.


Andrew:                 What’s up, Gator Country? Your man, Andrew Spivey, here with Nicholas de la Torre. Nicholas, it’s LSU week. It’s Wednesday. That means we’re going to bring on a good friend of the show, James Moran. We’ll talk to him in a few minutes about this game, get his thoughts on this game and how he thinks it’s going to turn out. We’ll continue to preview this. I think Florida’s ready.

Nick:                         Yeah. I think Florida’s ready. It’s going to be a great atmosphere. Dan Mullen talked about last week, if you watch the stuff they put out. First off, Florida’s video department has been putting out incredible stuff all year. He’s talking to the team in the locker room after the game, and he said, they’re going to say that this was like the Swamp of old. He says, no, this is the Swamp, and this is what we want it to be. Now, LSU’s pretty good, and Death Valley’s sold out, 102,000 people. You’re going to get a taste of that medicine that Florida gave to Auburn last week. You’re going to get a taste of that medicine. To me, this will be my fourth trip to that stadium, I love it. The students, it’s really unique. The students don’t have block seating. It’s first come, first serve, so when they open the gates two and a half hours before the game, the students are there. So, all throughout Florida’s warmups, the students are letting them have it.

Andrew:                 Chanting their stupid ass little chants, because they’re annoying.

Nick:                         They’re chanting. They’re yelling. I remember watching Dante Fowler just giving it right back to them, and he was loving it. It’s a great atmosphere. I don’t know, I’ve had a lot of people tell me that it’s a terrible atmosphere if you’re wearing orange and blue in the stands. My dumb ass wore a purple shirt one time, because I forgot to pack until like an hour before I needed to leave for my flight, and everyone was real nice to me when I was walking into the press box. They were like, how are you? What’s going on? I’m like, why is everyone so friendly? Southern hospitality. I get up in the press box, and someone goes, nice purple shirt. I looked down, and I’m like, you idiot.

Andrew:                 I remember that. I remember that one. Yeah. It’s an exciting environment to go to. I love it. I think it’s awesome. LSU fans during the game are wild and crazy. Before the game they’re nice. Every time you walk by, they’re offering you tailgates, probably way too much alcohol, if you wanted it, anything else. If you’ve never been to Tiger Stadium at night, put it on your bucket list.

Nick:                         I mean, we’ve had like 3:00 or 2:30. When it’s a 3:30 game, it’s 2:30 local. I think we had one 3:00 start local. So, it gets to night, but I’ve never had 7:00. It’s a 7:00 p.m. local time kickoff. I’ve never had that, so I’m really looking forward to that.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I mean, we’ve had that, and it’s been wild there, but to get it at 7:00 LSU time, 8:00 here, it’s going to be fascinating to watch. I think it’s going to be a good game to see. Dan Mullen said on Monday everyone seems to be healthy. You got Kyle Trask with the knee, and he’s going to play. It’ll just be how much he can manage the pain, and I think he’ll be fine. You’re not taking Kyle Trask out of the game. Jabari supposedly should play. Apparently, he was cleared to play against Auburn, but Mullen didn’t feel like he was good enough to go, or wanted to hold him back to be even better. Should have him in the LSU game.

Nick:                         We both had expected and been told that he would be good enough to play last week. Just a scenario where, listen, we’re really good. I don’t think is the case, but I’ll throw it out there just as maybe a talking point or something that maybe some people had thought about. Are you worried? He’s such a talented player, are you worried at all about are we screwing up something good by throwing him in there? These guys have been playing at the highest level next to each other. I mean, leading the nation in sacks and tackles for loss. Are we screwing up the rotation? Are we screwing up the chemistry and everything that’s going on with the guys that are in there now by throwing him in there?

Andrew:                 No. I don’t think so.

Nick:                         That’s more of an offensive line thing.

Andrew:                 Yeah. More of that. Even there, somebody as talented as Jabari. I mean, Jeremiah Moon’s played well. He’s played well in his absence. Zach Carter had a sack in the game too. So, they’ve played well. But no, I don’t, I don’t think that it’s a situation where that. I think you’re kind of itching at the bit to get him back. It’s kind of like signing a free agent in the NFL, getting a big-time player like that back. Anyway, let’s go to James, Nick, talk to him, get his thoughts on this game. Then you and I will come back and break down what James has to say.

Nick:                         Let’s do it. We’re joined now by James Moran, good friend of mine. We’ve spent many a rain delay and fog delay in a baseball press box. He’s the editor of Tiger Rag. James, thanks for joining us again.

James:                    Always a pleasure, guys. It’s always great to spend time with you. Always great to talk to you, Nick, especially when it doesn’t involve us sitting in a baseball press box until two in the morning, only to be told to come back four hours later because of fog. I think that experience brought us closer together though.

Nick:                         Yeah. In our hatred of the man and Mother Nature, we’ve become close. That was crazy. Florida was getting 10 runs, and they needed to get three more outs. It was just like, can we just skip it? Can’t we just go home?

Andrew:                 Speaking of which, James, I guess you’re enjoying watching Alex Bregman tear up the League.

James:                    See, I’m not actually. I am a Yankee fan. I’m a New Yorker. I would love nothing more than to see the Rays push them to Game 4, maybe Game 5. Who knows, maybe they could even win it. I wouldn’t be mad about it. I’m more of a DJ LeMahieu guy myself.

Andrew:                 Okay. Well, I’m living in the Braves pity. We like to cause heart attacks for our fans.

Nick:                         James, first things first, before we get into the game. What’s this cold front coming in that’s got me all excited?

James:                    Man, it’s great. It’s been so hot here. It’s been like steadily 95+ all October, and finally this morning we got out of bed, felt a little chill in the air, even threw on a sweater to go into work. It was a glorious day. I think it’s supposed to be down in the 60s for that game on Saturday night.

Nick:                         I mean, who knows, but my weather app says lows in the 50s.

Andrew:                 So, Nick’s going to be basically in his snow attire.

Nick:                         Leather. I’m wearing a leather jacket. I might have a skullcap. I’m bringing gloves. I’m excited.

James:                    I’m excited. It’s been brutal here.

Andrew:                 Nick, the last night game that you and I covered, remember? The wind was atrocious in the press box.

Nick:                         Yeah. Ryan Young. LSU has a beautiful press box. Some of it’s outdoor, but you can quickly go indoors. I think everyone went and wrote indoors. It was the last game, I think, last time Florida was down there in 2016 just got cold at night. The wind was kicking up. One of our friends just stayed out there and wrote. I think he got pneumonia. It was bad. That was at the end of the year. It was like back in November. He just stayed out there and wrote. We were in the press box for like three hours after, and Ryan Young just sat there. We walked out like, hey man, there’s a seat inside. It’s like 80 inside. It feels really nice. No, I’m good. He wrote his like four stories after the game. He was out there for like three hours and got sick.

James:                    That’s wild.

Andrew:                 James, let’s move into this. Florida, I’m not trying to take away from this game, but Florida just went through this kind of top 10 grueling matchup with Auburn. Fans are ready for this. How is LSU, the fanbase, prepping for this? Is the excitement surrounding that from LSU the same as it for Florida? Fans are amped. They’re ready to go.

James:                    I get the sense that people, they’ve kind of been just drubbing lesser teams of late. Texas was obviously a pretty thrilling game, and that was kind of really the coming out party for this offense. Since then, they’ve basically just been drubbing the northwestern states and Vanderbilt, and a Utah State team that was pretty good, but was clearly overmatched on Saturday. Personally, I’m very excited to watch this offense go against what I think is far and away the best defense they’ll have seen all year. I mean, this offense has really been humming. Joe Burrow’s playing at an insanely high level. Nobody’s been able to really slow down their receivers.

To me, what’s going to be interesting is if a Florida defense that seems like, and I’d like you guys to correct me if I’m wrong here, seems like they’re getting home with the pass rush without blitzing as much a typical Todd Grantham defense. I’m fascinated to see a defense that can rush the passer with four, if that can slow down this offense, because so far, especially when they’ve gone up tempo with them, no one’s really been able to slow them down. I mean, they’re down a receiver, Terrace Marshall, though he did practice yesterday. He’s kind of an interesting thing to watch during the week, if maybe he can play. Even if he doesn’t, they’ve still got a lot of firepower in Ja’marr Chase and Justin Jefferson and some of the other guys. They kind of rotate through there as the third guy.

I’m just really interested to see this offense, which has been just scorching overmatched opponents for the last month. Can they hold up, especially at the line of scrimmage in pass protection against a defense? They haven’t seen a defense all year probably that has any future NFL players up front, and I think this Florida defense would be the first group that really fits that bill.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Florida has been getting home.

Nick:                         They got pressure with like three and four against Auburn last week and didn’t really start blitzing until the second half.

James:                    I mean, the LSU offensive line, the biggest breakdowns they’ve had was in the first half against Texas, but that was really more of a confusion against the zone blitz and some of the things they were doing. They haven’t really just gotten beat up front yet, but they also haven’t played a team that has anywhere near the talent of Florida. As we know, when they played last year in Gainesville, the Florida defensive line really wrecked the game. LSU couldn’t throw the ball. They couldn’t protect Joe Burrow. I think they gave up something like five sacks and 11 tackles for loss in that game. The LSU offensive line, we only get one of them. Lloyd Cushenberry’s the only one of them we ever really get to talk to. He talks about kind of the feeling of embarrassment, the feeling like they kind of were responsible for that loss. To me, that group is really going to be what determines a lot of this.

The things LSU’s doing offensively, especially when they go fast, if you don’t hit Burrow. It’s just really hard to see anybody, with the way rules are in football now, where you can’t really touch receivers or grab them very much, it’s hard to see anybody really just lining up and locking these guys down, if Burrow has time to throw. I really think Florida is the first team they’re going to see that can line up, and especially at the tackle position. I mean, Saahdiq Charles has been in and out of the lineup with disciplinary issues. He’s, to me, the guy that they’re going to circle and try to go after here.

Andrew:                 Florida’s doing a good job there getting after the passer and getting creative with things. The one problem I see in this game is Florida’s had some miscommunications in the secondary that’s allowed some big plays. I could see that being there. As far as offensive line play goes, I think LSU’s offensive line play might be a little bit better than Florida’s. Florida’s is atrocious.

Let’s go to this. This is a talk that I personally, I haven’t watched a ton of LSU tape. I watched the Texas game, a couple others. Some people around the country are saying that LSU up front defensively aren’t as good and ain’t as tough as they have been. Do you see that? Is that maybe a question mark heading into this game, the front seven for LSU?

James:                    Well, the first question that’s going to have to be answered is just in terms of health. They’ve been playing for the last month without their two starting defensive ends, Rashard Lawrence and Glen Logan. K’lavon Chaisson returned against Utah State. To me, he’s the most important player on their defense, because he’s the one guy that really without scheming anything too creative can just go out there and rush the quarterback one on one. They played their best game against Utah State, which obviously they don’t have the kind of athletes Florida does, but they are a very good offense. They came in averaging well over 500 yards a game. They got a first-round pick quarterback in Jordan Love. That wasn’t the easiest team on their schedule, and it was the game LSU played the best defensively.

To me, what I want to see in this game is, even if LSU does get guys like Rashard Lawrence, who’s expected to return, and Logan, who’s more questionable, I think, to get back on that defensive line, how do they hold up against the run? Because Florida, it seems like the one thing they can definitely do, and I even think they kind of seem a little bit more dangerous with Kyle Trask and some of the things they’ve been doing with him, but I think they’re going to line up and test this LSU defense running the ball downhill. LSU hasn’t really played anybody, except for a little bit, I guess, of Sam Ehlinger running the QB power against them early on in that LSU-Texas game. They really haven’t played anybody that runs any kind of power and tests them inside. The one thing about LSU is their linebackers are fast this year, but we haven’t really seen them play a power running game that I think can get downhill on you like Florida can.

Also, they have some issues injury-wise in the secondary. They thought they’d kind of figured some things out. They’ve really been getting trouble with the slot. Basically, covering the slot, covering the middle of the field, that has really been giving them some trouble. Basically, what they’ve been doing is kind of moving Grant Delpit back down in the box. They took Kary Vincent, who was their nickelback, who was getting torched, put him back at deep safety. That seems like it’s kind of solved some things, but they just lost a freshman. Basically, they’re down to three healthy cornerbacks at this point in time. That’s a bit of a problem. To me, what this game comes down to for LSU defensively is can they stop the run? Because it seems like, whether it’s kind of some option stuff like they did last year, Dan Mullen has kind of gotten the best of Dave Aranda in these matchups, and he’s really done it by the way he’s been creative in the running game.

Andrew:                 That’s the biggest thing. Florida has to get creative. Florida can’t line up and just run.

Nick:                         I was going to say. Pause there. Florida couldn’t run against Towson.

Andrew:                 Yeah.

Nick:                         So, Kyle Trask can run. Dan Mullen ran a quarterback power on 3rd and 1 or 3rd and 2, like three plays after Kyle Trask came back from spraining his MCL. He’s willing to run him, but the Florida offensive line just has not been able to get a push, even against a team, like I said, like Towson.

James:                    How healthy do you guys think Trask is?

Nick:                         I’d say he’s probably over 80%. He was able to come back in. Florida, their training staff is always very cautious with injuries like that. To me, once he came back, and after I saw him kind of get used to it. Of course, the first couple plays when he comes back it’s still a little ginger. You’re not sure if you can fully trust it. As the game went on, I thought he looked pretty close to normal. Then he’ll have a full week. He’ll be in one of those hamster balls at practice, so that nobody can get near him.

James:                    Seeing it live, we were up in the press box after the game on Saturday.

Nick:                         It looked bad.

James:                    I thought he blew out all of his knee, essentially.

Andrew:                 Yes.

James:                    Seeing it with no volume on a TV.

Nick:                         That’s how it looks when you see somebody roll into the side of a quarterback’s knee, and it bends that way. You’re thinking did it break? Is that MCL, PCL? Is the knee done? When he got up and walked, that doesn’t make you feel any better, because you can walk on that stuff. But then when he comes out jogging out of the tunnel, I immediately thought of the Undertaker popping up out of a coffin. Like where the hell did Kyle Trask come from, and why is he running?

James:                    I don’t know about you guys, but on Sunday really, when I saw the early line was like 14.5, I was like we’re going to hear on Monday that this kid’s got like three ligaments blown out in his knee and played the second half on them. That was just because I was surprised at how big the line was. I figured that somebody had to know something. It really does seem like, from talking to you guys and reading your stuff on Twitter, it does seem like he’s actually kind of escaped that injury pretty well, which was very fortunate.

Andrew:                 I think it’s more of a pain management, honestly, right now. Then just getting used to things. To go back to that line, and I tell this to people. I was telling this to someone yesterday. Florida almost won in Baton Rouge with Treon Harris. Treon Harris may be the worst Florida quarterback, outside of Skylar Mornhingweg, in the last 20 years. This is just a rivalry game. You can throw there’s a select handful of games that have gotten out of control for each team, but for the majority of these games it’s a one score game.

James:                    I know. That’s why, like I know LSU, it’s a totally different offense. They’re going to go fast. They’re going to try to make it a shootout and dare Florida to keep up with them. But seeing an LSU-Florida line that big just, I couldn’t in good conscience lay that kind of points. I can’t remember, I guess, 2011? I can’t remember the last LSU-Florida game that really got out of hand to that point. I mean, 2012 was kind of a physical. Most of these games have been physical wars, where the game comes down to either a weird play, a special teams play, one of the two teams either hitting a long field goal late or pulling off some kind of trick play. Florida coming off of a huge win at Auburn. I mean, I think that Auburn team they just beat is really good. That line, to me, just seems way too high.

Andrew:                 Agreed.

Nick:                         I agree. If I were a gambling man, I would take Florida getting two touchdowns. So, the general consensus from outside of Baton Rouge is that LSU learned how to offense and forgot how to defense. Where did this offensive switch, it seemed to be so quick, is it just Joe Burrow? Is it philosophy and Joe Burrow being more comfortable?

James:                    It’s a perfect mix of both has really been it. I mean, they’ve always had good receivers, and the problem has been the ability to get them the ball. Joe Burrow is a big part of it. The other big part of it was they hired a 29-year-old assistant from the New Orleans Saints named Joe Brady, who basically came in. He’s not the co-offensive coordinator, but really he might as well be. He’s the guy that kind of helped Steve Ensminger rebuild the offense. This has always been the kind of offense Ed Orgeron has wanted to run, but he hasn’t been able to find the right guy to help them put it in until now.

Basically, you’re going to see them in at least three wide receiver sets on every play. There’s no more I formation. They don’t use a fullback. They’re in the shotgun probably 95% of the time. They throw the ball. Last week was the most they ran it, because they knew the Utah State, the tempo they played with, and they just really wanted to avoid getting in a long drawn out game with the Florida game the next week. They wanted to kind of shorten the game, control it.

Coincidentally, they also played their best game defensively. I think the narrative has kind of been here that the offense is so good and has scored so fast that the defense has been kind of overexposed for most of the games. I think there’s some validity to that, if you look at the second half of the Texas game, but also, they just flat out haven’t played very well. This defense has missed a lot of tackles. They’ve been banged up in the front seven, which is, I guess, kind of an excuse, but they’ve had Grant Delpit, who was an All-American last year, he’s missed a lot of tackles.

The one strength of this defense is nobody’s had any success throwing on the outside on them. Derek Stingley, Jr. is probably the best player on this team, and I include Burrow and the receivers in that. He has been just incredible as a true freshman. He’s kind of the rare guy that’s come in and lived up to all the hype. The rest of this defense has been pretty susceptible. If you throw against him, you’re doing so at your own risk. He dropped probably three or four picks in the first couple games of the season, and then he’s caught one in each of the last two weeks. He’s just kind of freaky over there on the one side.

Fulton’s been okay. The inside coverage has been bad. I mean, the tackling until last week has been horrible. They missed 18 tackles against Vanderbilt. They gave up an extra 150 yards that kind of really killed their defensive numbers. Texas, the tackling was putrid in that game. They probably got ran over four or five different times by Texas receivers in the secondary.

So, the offensive change is legit. They’ve got two of the best receivers in the country in Justin Jefferson and Ja’marr Chase. Joe Burrow’s playing at an exceedingly high level. They have an offense now that gets them a lot of easy throws. To me, besides just stacking Burrow and making him uncomfortable, the most important thing about playing this LSU offense is you have to have defensive backs making tackles in space. Because what this offense is built around is taking a lot of easy 10-yard crossing routes, breaking tackles, and making them for big gains. That’s why you’ve seen this insane completion percentage. Joe Burrow’s up around 80% completion percentage and throwing for well over 10 yards an attempt. A lot of that is Chase and Jefferson and, before he got hurt, Terrace Marshall just taking short passes or intermediate passes over the middle and breaking them for big gains.

I think offense is as good as advertised, though again, that offensive line to me is still really the big question mark against a good defense. The defense is probably not as bad as it’s been kind of billed to be, but they have to show that they’re going to tackle, because before last week tackling was a big issue. They really had some of their better players that were some of the culprits in that. I think Florida’s probably going to have to score. I don’t know. I just have a hard time seeing LSU being kept under the mid-20s in terms of points, but I could see this LSU defense giving up that kind of total as well.

Andrew:                 Give me a key for you for LSU defensively. We all know kind of the keys for offense, but defensively what’s a key?

James:                    For LSU defensively?

Andrew:                 Yes.

James:                    They got to stop the run. I mean, Florida’s always got that power downhill running game, even when it seems like they have offensive troubles. They’ve always been able to run the ball on LSU, whether it’s doing the speed option, which seemed to really catch LSU off guard last year. And they’ve just got to tackle. They kind of had a team meeting during the bye week, and some guys got called out, basically, for going for too many big hits, not wrapping up enough, and not having enough pursuit to the ball. It seems like a lot of it was technique, yes, but also just kind of a lack of effort.

I think they’re going to have to get a lot better in terms of tackling, because I think Florida, and then down the road you look at teams like Auburn and, obviously, Alabama, they have guys that if you miss tackles they’re going to turn short plays into big plays. That’s kind of football in the year 2019 with big fast wide receivers taking short passes and making big plays out of them, whether it’s the running game, the short passing game. To me the biggest key for this LSU defense is just tackling, pursuit to the ball, not letting those short plays go for big yardage.

Nick:                         I mean, Florida hasn’t been able to do it, but Lamical Perine had a career rushing day, an 88-yard touchdown, 133, so maybe there’s some life yet there. Like you say, it’s Florida-LSU, and you kind of throw some stats out the window. Weird things can happen, especially when the sun finds its home in the western sky, and it’s Saturday night. I love that video. Well, it’s only Tuesday, but we’re going to ask if you’re comfortable making a prediction after what we’ve talked about. How do you see this game going? If not, if you don’t feel comfortable with a prediction, how do you see the game going?

James:                    I do think LSU probably wins, but I would not advise anybody out there to lay that 13.5 or wherever that number is at now. I think it’s more of field goal game, maybe a touchdown. I mean, 10 points, I guess, if they can kind of make a play late. I have a hard time seeing this being anything but a one score game either way. I just think that you kind of favor the home team and the more experienced quarterback in those kind of games. That’s why I would give the edge to Burrow and LSU in a close game late. But again, if you’re talking about picking it with the points, I would take Florida.

Nick:                         The points just seem crazy to me.

Andrew:                 Yeah. Agreed.

Nick:                         I didn’t think Florida would be a favorite.

James:                    It’s almost like cognitive dissonance in your brain, right? You can’t imagine an LSU-Florida game with that big of a spread.

Nick:                         I thought it was wrong when I first saw it, and then it went up from 13.5 to 14. I was like, what?

Andrew:                 Vegas is going to make us all look stupid, and LSU’s going to win by 14.

James:                    The thought, I guess, would be that LSU’s coming off a bye and a relatively easy win, whereas Florida’s coming off a hard-fought win over a top 10 team. I guess maybe that’s it. Did you get the sense that the team was kind of emptying the tank in that Auburn game?

Andrew:                 No. No. I didn’t at all.

James:                    Okay. That would be my other bit of logic, if Trask is healthy.

Nick:                         Yeah. We thought Todd Grantham, freshman quarterback in the Swamp, he’d blitz 14, and then they really didn’t even blitz in the first half. So, for me, I don’t think so. I don’t think they ran too many trick plays or gadget things. I think Dan Mullen’s probably got some stuff that he even put in last week that you’ve been wondering where it is all year, and then they’re just showing wrinkles off of it. So, no, I didn’t feel like it was emotionally draining the tank for Florida or from a scheme standpoint, like we just threw the kitchen sink, and now we really don’t have anything left.

Andrew:                 Yeah.

James:                    Yeah. I just don’t, the line seems high to me. I guess that’s not going to change until I see LSU actually blow out a team of this quality.

Nick:                         Right.

Andrew:                 Agreed. James, tell everybody where they can find your work, and then we’ll get you out of here. We’ll see you on Saturday.

James:                    You guys can follow my work at TigerRag.com. If you prefer kind of podcast from the other side of things, we have a podcast we do, me and my guy Tyler. Maybe I’ll have to reach out to Nick and see if he’s got a few minutes to spare sometime this week and return the old favor. TigerRag.com. You can follow me on Twitter @smartestmoran. If you took Nick’s Twitter advice you’re already following me, and are the people quote tweeting my tweets and kind of spreading the good word. I appreciate that.

I would add on as an addendum that you don’t need to tweet angry things at me. I am not a fan. I wildly indifferent to the kind of trading of insults that seem to come around with this LSU-Florida game every year. I always enjoy the game, because to me it’s always kind of the most physical game on the schedule, either this or LSU-Auburn. LSU-Alabama has kind of become a little bit less so in recent years. TigerRag.com, the Tiger Rag podcast, or you can follow me on Twitter @smartestmoran. Appreciate you guys having me on. It’s always a good time.

Andrew:                 Absolutely. We will see you on Saturday, and good luck the rest of the week.

James:                    Yeah. Talk to you guys later.

Andrew:                 Nick, good stuff from James. Only thing I disagree with him is I don’t think he knows how bad this Florida offensive line is.

Nick:                         Yeah. Not to his fault. It’s always interesting. We always talk about this. Back when Antonio Morrison was here I’d say this is the game that I’m circling, because I want to see Antonio Morrison play against this team. He’s the downhill. I said the same thing about David Reese and Ventrell Miller. This is the downhill kind of nasty game that old-school linebackers look at and think, yes, that’s what I’m in for. But maybe Florida has some confidence in the running game after outrushing Auburn. It wasn’t like they dominated running the ball. They kind of just stuck with it and eventually got a win, or eventually ran the ball.

Andrew:                 And LSU’s not running the ball. They’re averaging 155 yards a game, but still they’re not running the ball like LSU usually does either, but obviously they’re throwing the ball like LSU never has. Joe Burrow’s doing well, but it helps to have receivers like Ja’marr Chase, like those guys, Jefferson, those other guys that are out there. It helps to have those guys.

Nick:                         Yeah. Shoot. Looking at Ja’marr Chase and what could have been, right?

Andrew:                 Billy Gonzales didn’t want him. Said he wasn’t good enough.

Nick:                         My goodness. He seems good enough.

Andrew:                 Kind of like Auburn did with Lamical Perine. Kind of bit them in the butt.

Nick:                         He seems good enough to me.

Andrew:                 Seems like he’s a pretty good player to me. We’ll see. This is an LSU team though, Nick, that’s already given up nine sacks. Like James said, they’re vulnerable to that. They’re vulnerable to giving that up. They got 13 for themselves. Be interesting to see how much pressure they do get on Kyle, because while Florida’s offensive line has been atrocious in the running game, they’ve been okay in the passing game. So, we’ll see there. LSU though has only forced three turnovers too, so that’ll be interesting to see. They’ve only gotten four interceptions.

Nick:                         Yeah. I’m looking at Pro Football Focus. They have 12 throwing zones. They’ve got, obviously, left, middle, right, and then they’ve got behind the line of scrimmage from 0-10, 10-20, 20+ yards. The areas that are really sticking out to me for Burrow are his deep passing, for 20+ yards. This is ball in the air 20+ yards. Nine of 14 for 287 and three touchdowns to the right, when he’s throwing bombs to the right. That’s 64.3%. His 0-10 yards, so his short to intermediate, 89% to the left, 84% up the middle, and 91% to the right. To me, you’re going to have to try to get him uncomfortable.

James made it seem like that’s an area where a team like Florida, this will be the best defense, first off, this will be the best defense every team that Florida plays, the best defense that that team has faced all year, but this will be the best defense that LSU has faced. The talk really, it’s not like a media bias against Florida, the talk should be about LSU’s offense. #2 total offense in the country. I think they’re the #1 scoring. Yeah, #1 scoring offense, #2 total offense. It catches you by surprise, I guess. When Florida’s defense is great, you’re like Florida plays great defense. When LSU’s offense is doing the stuff that they do, it’s going to catch people’s attention, because that’s not what LSU has been. I mean, this is a team that had Odell Beckham, Jr. and Jarvis Landry at receiver and would lose four games a year.

Andrew:                 We always talk it’s usually a defense versus defense matchup, but it definitely seems like when LSU has the ball that’s going to be the key. Now, it very well could be the key when Florida has the ball of can Florida score points? If Florida’s able to, LSU’s not scoring 40. They’re not. I don’t see that.

Nick:                         I don’t know how. I don’t know if they score 30.

Andrew:                 I don’t think they score 30 either. I’m just saying. Some people are saying it could be a shootout. It’s not. I mean, if you can call 27-21 a shootout, maybe. I don’t see this being a 40-39, 30-35 game, something like that. I just don’t see that. First of all, I don’t think Dan Mullen’s going to allow this game to get into a shootout, because I think he’ll slow it down offensively if need be, and he understands that. It definitely could be a situation where when LSU has the ball if Florida’s able to hold LSU down, Florida’s offense seems like it has a little advantage over LSU’s defense as far as passing goes.

Nick:                         Yeah. It’ll be interesting to see. Those are two legit receivers, so that’s another matchup. I’m sitting over here talking about the linebackers versus the running game. Put those receivers. Those are talented guys. Put them up against Florida’s secondary.

Andrew:                 Yeah. I know James said he didn’t think any corner can one on one. Give me CJ Henderson and Ja’marr Chase. Give me that all day.

Nick:                         Let’s find out. Listen, CJ Henderson will get beat. He’s not a robot.

Andrew:                 No.

Nick:                         Every defensive back in the country will get beat at some point. So, will Ja’marr Chase beat CJ Henderson? Yeah. Probably.

Andrew:                 Probably multiple times.

Nick:                         Will CJ Henderson hold his own against Ja’marr Chase? Yeah. Absolutely.

Andrew:                 It’s going to be a matchup. That’s why I said, give me that matchup. I’m here for it. That’s worth the price of admission.

Nick:                         Yeah. To me, there’s just so much like he sucks, he gave up a pass. Yeah. Deon Sanders gave up a pass. Every cornerback, defensive back, has gotten a ball caught on them at some point. It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen on Saturday. I think CJ Henderson’s task will be to neutralize him. Hey, don’t let him go out there and be the reason they win the game.

Andrew:                 Don’t let him go out there and bomb you deep. If he gets a five-yard gain, tackle him. Move on. 2nd and 5. 3rd and 5. Whatever it may be. 4th and 5. Whatever it may be. Move on. Call it a day. That’ll be what Dan Mullen and Todd Grantham tell him. It’s the same thing kind of with Anthony Schwartz last week, and it didn’t happen, and that is don’t let him get behind you. That’ll be the key.

The one thing that does concern me, Nick, is the miscommunication that this team has had some this year. That’s something that has got to be worked out. You and I have seen it. LSU gets a 50-yard bomb, that place is going to go raucous.

Nick:                         To steal a line from Mick Hubert, it’s going to be an insane asylum.

Andrew:                 So, don’t let that happen. Don’t. Offensively, for Florida, just don’t turn the ball over. I mean, I know it sounds so easy to say, but just don’t turn the ball over. If you don’t turn the ball over, you should be in good shape here. I kind of take that line we had last week, Nick, of which team can put together long drives? I think that’ll be a key this week. I don’t LSU is going to allow Florida to get many deep plays, and I don’t think Florida’s going to allow LSU to get many deep plays. Who can sustain 10-12 play drives?

Nick:                         Yeah.

Andrew:                 And the crowd noise is going to be a huge factor for Florida.

Nick:                         Huge factor. We talked to David Pollack about this last week, and he said, crowd noise for a team isn’t just a boost for you in terms of it’s loud and we’re feeding off that. He goes, when you watch offenses, opposing offenses, Florida’s offense, they have to go to a silent count. He goes, watch the right guard. The right guard will be looking over his shoulder at the quarterback, and the quarterback will clap his hands, and then the right guard puts his head down, taps the center. The center will look back to make sure, then look up, and then the ball gets snapped.

You’re not listening. If you’re a defensive lineman, you’re not listening. You’re not even really having to watch the ball. You’re watching a center’s head. The advantage that that gives you in being able to get a jump, and you’re talking about Florida’s offensive line, you’re going to let these LSU guys, basically tell them when the ball’s going to get snapped. You got to figure out ways around that, but that’s pretty much how it happens.

Andrew:                 Yeah. You’re right. It is. It’s a situation of if there’s eight seconds left on the play clock, and you notice you’re not in the play that you maybe want to be, then it’s let’s check out. I don’t have enough time. Burn a timeout. Well, there’s one of your timeouts. It’s different things like that. Here’s the thing I’ll say. Kyle Trask hasn’t played a ton, but Kyle Trask isn’t going to get nervous. The moment’s not going to get too big for him.

Nick:                         No. I don’t anticipate the moment being too big for him. He is going to get rattled at some point, but every player might. It might be at some point during the game. It might be the first time you come out and an LSU fan says something about your mom, and you hear it. You’re like, what? It’s just reacting to that and brushing it off, and then getting used to it. How quickly can you get used to that crowd? Because it’s going to be loud, and there’s no way to really replicate that in practice. Embrace it. Let it overcome you and overwhelm you before the game. Look around and get used to it, and then settle in. Settle is as quickly as you can.

Andrew:                 Settle in as quick as you can, and then, like I said, get ahead of the sticks. You can do that. I know that sound so easy, but it ain’t. It’s going to be wild, and it’s going to be a game that, again, you can’t have turnovers. It’s a game that, Nick, there’s going to be a lot of jawing. These teams don’t like each other. Don’t commit dumb penalties. Florida’s done a good job of that lately. Don’t start this week.

Nick:                         This is not the week to start with the penalties.

Andrew:                 Like James said, missed tackles. Florida needs to come in with that same energy, same mindset they had against Auburn.

Nick:                         Because it was better last week, and it had been a huge concern.

Andrew:                 Right. That was a big key. Anthony Schwartz was MIA. MIA. The Auburn receivers were MIA, because they were making the catch, they were going down. Making the catch, going down. Making a catch, going down. Look at it vice versa. Freddie Swain catches, breaks tackles. Josh Hammond, catches a pass, breaks tackles. Lamical Perine bounces off tackles, scores. Difference in the ballgame.

Nick:                         Yeah. Can’t let the five-yard gain turn into that 88-yard gain.

Andrew:                 Yup. All right, Nick, let’s get out of here. We’ll see everyone on Friday, our prediction podcast.

Nick:                         Have you figured out who you’re going to pick yet?

Andrew:                 No.

Nick:                         I haven’t either. I was thinking about that.

Andrew:                 I haven’t been asked yet. It’s been wild. Everybody’s just asking me my keys on the radio all week. So, no, I haven’t. Last time Florida went over there I picked LSU and Florida won, so maybe I stay with that same mindset. I don’t know. We’ll see. Got to tune in on Friday.

Nick:                         Tune in on Friday for that.

Andrew:                 Yeah.

Nick:                         www.GatorCountry.com for all your Florida Gator news. The podcast is there in audio and transcript form. You can find the podcast wherever you consume your podcasts. Just search Gator Country. Subscribe. Never miss an episode. Throw a rating our way while you’re at it. Do your social media thing. @GatorCountry on Facebook and Twitter. @TheGatorCountry on Instagram. You can follow me @NickdelaTorreGC, and he’s @AndrewSpiveyGC.

Andrew:                 There you go. I hope I’m talking on Friday about a Game 5 victory. If I don’t make it to Game 5, I mean, if I don’t make it back on Friday, it’s because Game 5 killed me. I’m sorry. Love everyone. The blood pressure is intense with Atlanta sports right now.

Nick:                         I don’t have anything nice to say. I’m not going to say anything at all. I’ll be watching the Braves.

Andrew:                 Nats-Dodgers. Good series as well.

Nick:                         Yankees with the sweep. Man, Minnesota had been a fun team all year, and then they just got worked.

Andrew:                 That long ball said it was MIA in there. Chatman gets hurt with the champagne bottle.

Nick:                         What happened? I didn’t even see that.

Andrew:                 I never saw exactly what it was, but the champagne bottle hit him in the mouth.

Nick:                         Oh jeez.

Andrew:                 I don’t know. Anyway. All right, guys, we appreciate it. We’ll see everyone on Friday. As always, chomp, chomp, and go Braves.

Nick:                         You stay classy, Gator Country.

Andrew Spivey
Andrew always knew he wanted to be involved with sports in some capacity. He began by coaching high school football for six years before deciding to pursue a career in journalism. While coaching, he was a part of two state semifinal teams in the state of Alabama. Given his past coaching experience, he figured covering recruiting would be a perfect fit. He began his career as an intern for Rivals.com, covering University of Florida football recruiting. After interning with Rivals for six months, he joined the Gator Country family as a recruiting analyst. Andrew enjoys spending his free time on the golf course and watching his beloved Atlanta Braves. Follow him on Twitter at @AndrewSpiveyGC.