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Gameday Preview: LSU

Billy Gonzales apparently did not leave Florida on the best of terms. In his wake, is Steve Addazio as offensive coordinator, who is in year two of angering Florida fans.

We should consider this knowledge when we look at Saturday's LSU-Florida game. Gonzales isn't the Tigers offensive coordinator, but he can shine some light on what Florida can do. The Gators are also running into the nation's 6th best defense, a week after getting manhandled by the 20th best in total defense. (Bama and LSU are ranked 1 and 5 respectively in scoring defense.) It is entirely possible LSU wins on Saturday only on the strength of their defense and making a minimum number of plays on offense.

The Gators also have several injury problems. John Brantley was limited this week due to sore ribs. If you were hoping the Gators would start slinging it, punch yourself in the ribs a few times, then try to throw a ball. You'll realize Brantley will probably spend most of the time handing off. Who he hands off to is in doubt, as Jeff Demps and Mike Gillislee are shaking off injuries. Both are considered probable. That leaves Emmanuel Moody and maybe a Mack Brown appearance. Judging from some comments this week, Jordan Reed and Trey Burton will get touches. 

The LSU defense uses a 3-2-6 scheme that can take away the pass, while putting enough guys near the line to stop the run. The effect is that LSU can have multiple looks out of the same package. This spells trouble for the Gators as Alabama and other defenses have shown it's fairly easy to confuse the Gators' offensive scheme. As usual, LSU has a thick dline that can plug lanes. That leaves it up to linebackers Kelvin Sheppard and Stefoin Francois to get to the line and make tackles. With six DBs, at least two are in the slots, which provides more run support. The safeties can drop in as well. Only Patrick Peterson will stay on an island and cover the best UF receiver, either Carl Moore or Deonte Thompson. With this look, UF has to block on the perimeter and hope to mixup playing calling enough to keep the Tigers on their toes. Florida also cannot afford to allow Peterson to return kicks. He has two punt return touchdowns this season.

LSU had 434 yards of offense last week against Tennessee, nearly doubling their output against Mississippi State and West Virginia. The only reason why the game against the Vols was close was due to the Tigers four turnovers. Jarrett Lee is the much better quarterback, but Les Miles plans on sticking with Jordan Jefferson because of his running ability. Against UT, Jefferson had 100 yards rushing, but was 3/10 for 30 yards and two interceptions. Florida should be able to handle the LSU passing game, even with Lee in the game. 

Running back Stevan Ridley is averaging 111 yards per game, 15th in the nation. at 6-foot, 223 pounds, Ridley will be hard to take down. UF has been very good with run defense, allowing only 109 yards per game, which is 25th nationally. The key for UF is keep their assignments and not get caught out of place. Most of UF's defensive mistakes have been in this manner. That is to be expected with young players and inexperienced starters, but we should see less as the season progresses. On passing downs, the Gators still lack a pass rush and can't seem to use blitzes effectively. Maybe we see UF keeping seven or eight in coverage, even if that means allowing effective QB scrambles as Greg McElroy did last week.

Florida fans can be confident that the Gators will win. But LSU has defeated five BCS teams and finds ways to win, despite the efforts of their coach. Don't underestimate those two factors.