LSU vs. Florida: 3 Ways Gators Can Score Big Against Fighting Tigers
Week 6 of the NCAA football season brings us a heated rivalry game between two SEC powerhouses—the LSU Tigers and the Florida Gators. Both teams are ranked in the Top 10 in the AP poll, and a victory in this game would give both teams a huge boost in terms of their SEC Championship hopes.
No. 10 Florida will have to put up points against a strong LSU defense (a unit that allows just 217 YPG, second in the SEC) if the Gators hope to win.
In order to do that, they'll need to come out with a strong, balanced offense and finish drives against an LSU D that yields a touchdown on 75 percent of opponent's red-zone trips.
Let's take a look at a few ways that Florida can game plan its offense in hopes of scoring big against the Tigers.
1. Attack LSU with the Run
While Florida was resting up this weekend in preparation for its impending bout with the Tigers, LSU was scuffling against the recondite Towson Tigers of the vaunted Colonial Athletic Association.
Though LSU won 38-22, its run defense regressed horribly. The Tigers allowed 188 yards on the ground and looked weak at the point of attack (where missed tackles were abound).
If that's a sign of things to come—and that's a reasonably big if, since the Tiger's front four has been strong outside of the last game— Florida could run all over LSU.
That is mainly because Gators RB Mike Gillislee is a much more potent weapon than anything Towson could throw at LSU.
Gillislee, who sports a 5.8 YPC average, is fifth in the SEC in rushing yards. He's part of a Florida rushing attack that ranks third in the SEC in yards per game, with 224.5.
If the Gators can dominate the point of attack against an LSU front that got pushed around by Towson last week, then Florida should be able to run effectively on LSU's defense.
2. Simplify Jeff Driskel's Reads
But like any young QB, he's still learning his progressions.
Driskel was sacked eight times against Texas A&M two games ago, the vast majority of which were his own fault. He was hesitant and indecisive in his reads.
The following week, in a 37-20 win against the Tennessee Volunteers, Driskel wasn't sacked once. Offensive Coordinator Brent Pease noted significant improvement from the young QB (per PalmBeachPost.com):
You have four to five seconds where things can happen once the ball is snapped—or less. He’s just starting to see the whole picture. He’s understanding what defenses are doing to him, how the moving parts are going to take place, so your anticipation is much better.
Driskel completed 14-of-20 passes for 219 yards and two touchdowns against the Vols. He's got upside and is only getting better.
Muschamp can help Driskel much the same way New York Jets coach Rex Ryan helps his QB, Mark Sanchez. That is, simplify his reads by rolling him out on play-action bootlegs, forcing him to only focus on one side of the field.
That also puts Driskel in a position to make plays on the run—something he's perfectly capable of.
LSU has a fast, physical D, and Driskel will need to make good decisions quickly. This is one way to help him do just that.
3. Win the Field Position Battle with Aggressive D
You know that old cliche, the best defense is a good offense?
The converse pertains to this game.
One way the Gators can put up points is to put their offense in a position to succeed.
That sounds like a platitude, but it boils down to the defense generating turnovers and three-and-outs in order to set Driskel and the Florida offense up with short fields.
The Florida defense is capable of doing just that. The Gators have generated six INTs so far this year, and they've got ball hawks Marcus Roberson and Matt Elam patrolling their defensive backfield.
Meanwhile, the LSU offense is coming off a five-fumble effort against Towson. The Tigers have ball-security issues, and there will be turnovers to be had for a swarming defense like Florida's.
If Florida can shut down LSU's run game and force QB Zach Mettenberger to try and make plays, the Gators will win both the turnover and field position battle.
That will go a long way towards helping the Gators' offense put up big points against LSU.