After their best performance this season, the Florida Gators will look to stay hot as they will host the LSU Tigers Saturday afternoon. The Florida Gators have had some history with the Tigers. Last season, LSU’s Athletic Director, Joe Alleva, said that the Gators were “scared” to play the Tigers and the Gators used Hurricane Matthew as an excuse not to play them. The Gators then played the Tigers in Death Valley and not only beat them 16-10 but won the SEC East title. There is still no love lost between these two teams and should be a really close football game. Here are five keys for the Florida Gators to knock off the LSU Tigers.
Win in the trenches
For the past few years, the Florida-LSU game has been won in the trenches and it seem to be the same story again this year. Both teams have had a good running game. The LSU Tigers have Derrius Guice, who is expected to be taken in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft. The Gators have had a lot of success on the ground with Malik Davis and Lamical Perine. The offensive and defensive line for Florida must be at its best. If Florida can stop the running game, Florida should be in good shape to beat the Tigers but the offensive line has to do its job too. Florida’s O-line has improved every week since the Michigan game but must continue that trend against the Tigers.
Ground and Pound
The Florida Gators might have finally found their identity on offense. The rushing attack has been one of the main reasons the Florida Gators has won their past two games. Malik Davis and Lamical Perine are both coming off career games in which both scored 5 rushing touchdowns. The LSU front seven has been banged up and not as good as they have been in the past. Florida really needs to run the ball well if they want to continue having success on offense. The offensive line needs to get a push and create some holes for the running game. Also, if Florida is able to run the ball successfully, it opens up the opportunity for Feleipe Franks to take some shots downfield. If the rushing attack is working, so will the offense.
Must tackle well against LSU
One of the biggest weaknesses on the Florida defense has been the inability for them to wrap up and make a tackle. They struggled mightily against Tennessee but have improved in the past few weeks. This week, the defense must keep the missed tackles to a minimum. LSU is a power running team that can really create some explosive plays if they are able to break tackles. Guice will play against Florida and leaving him in space isn’t ideal for the defense. They must wrap up and not try go for the knockout punch. Players like Chauncey Gardner are going to be targeted as he has had tackles issues all season long. He must be able to wrap up and take down the ball carrier. If he doesn’t, Gardner will likely sit the bench and be replaced by Brad Steward as he plays against his hometown team.
Force Danny Etling to throw the football
For the past three-four years, LSU have been known to be one of the top running teams in the nation. They have great running backs but the talent at quarterback and receiver isn’t what it should be. Everybody knows that LSU will run the ball to open up their passing game. LSU QB Danny Etling has been pretty banged up all season long and isn’t as good as most LSU fans were hoping for. Knowing that, the Gators must shut down their running game and force Etling to beat them with his arm. Florida has had their issues in the secondary but they are still a very talented group who can create turnovers and really make life difficult for Etling. The Florida pass rush has been good this season and should be able to put more pressure on Etling and force him to throw the ball.
WRs must step up big time without Tyrie Cleveland
Outside of the loss of Luke Del Rio, the biggest hit on the Florida Gators was the high ankle sprain of Tyrie Cleveland. The sophomore receiver has been Florida’s top receiver with his size and explosive plays. Feleipe Franks and Cleveland have a really good connection as Tyrie seems to be Feleipe’s favorite target. Cleveland will be unable to play against LSU, receivers like Josh Hammond, Freddie Swain and Brandon Powell must step up and make some plays on offense. Kadarius Toney is Florida’s best receiver if Cleveland is out so, the other guys must make some explosive plays. These are receivers who have been in this system and have the capability to really make some explosive plays.