2011 Florida Gators Football: News and Notes Heading into the LSU Game

John PattonContributor IOctober 6, 2011

Will the Gator offense have more success against LSU than it did Alabama? No doubt Charlie Weis hopes so.
Will the Gator offense have more success against LSU than it did Alabama? No doubt Charlie Weis hopes so.Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Coming off a rough night, losing 38-10 to a very physical Alabama football team, no doubt Florida would prefer to have Kentucky or Furman up next.

Instead, the Gators have to travel to top-ranked Louisiana State, which has won 14 straight home games, dating back to 2009 when UF and Tim Tebow beat the Tigers.

Making this one even more difficult is the fact that Florida will have to do it without its starting quarterback, John Brantley, who injured his right ankle late in the first half against the Crimson Tide.

Here are a few news and notes heading into Saturday afternoon's tilt at Tiger Stadium:

*Starting safety Deante "Pop" Saunders will return after a one-week suspension for a violation of team rules. Josh Evans replaced Saunders, one of two true freshmen starting in the Gator secondary, in the lineup against Alabama.

*Potentially bad sign for Jeff Driskel, the true freshman who will be replacing Brantley on Saturday: On the year, the LSU defense has recorded six interceptions, six fumble recoveries and 12 sacks.

Tigers' defensive back Tyrann Mathieu has led the charge and is playing like an All-American. The sophomore has forced four fumbles and recovered three (two of which he has taken back for touchdowns) to go along with an interception and one-and-a-half sacks.

*Gator defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said his defense has been preparing to face both Jarrett Lee and Jordan Jefferson at quarterback. Lee has been the starter all season, but Jefferson was the incumbent before being suspended for his part in a fight outside of a bar.

Jefferson returned last Saturday afternoon against Kentucky and played briefly, scoring on a one-yard quarterback sneak, but Lee did 99 percent of the work in the 35-7 victory.

*Florida and LSU will be facing off for the 41st consecutive season this week. However, it could be the final meeting between the two schools for at least a few years.

The expansion of the Southeastern Conference will make it so teams from the East and West that used to play every season most likely won't continue to do so, beginning in 2012. Heading into Saturday's contest, the Gators lead the all-time series, 30-24-3.

*While equally successful, Alabama and LSU recruit different types of defensive players. Last week's Gator opponent, the Crimson Tide, likes a very large front seven, evidenced by the fact that linebacker Courtney Upshaw weighs in at 265.

The Tigers, meanwhile, prefer leaner defenders (note: starting defensive end Barkevious Mingo weighs 240 pounds, and that's after bulking up 45 pounds from high school) and average 20 pounds lighter per-player than Alabama. The Tide's system obviously worked, particularly against the run, where Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey were rendered ineffective. How will LSU's work?