LSU Run Game Presents New Challenges

After facing offenses like Tennessee and Texas A&M that wanted to throw the ball, the Gators are using the bye week to prepare for something different. LSU will bring a power, two-back run game to Gainesville on October 6. It's an offensive scheme that gave Florida nightmares throughout the 2011 season, including its trip to Baton Rouge. The Gators have two weeks to prepare to stop it.

"It's certainly more traditional in the approach in the way they run the ball at LSU," said Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, joking that he expected to see ‘120 percent' more two-backs sets against the Tigers. "It has been unusual in the first couple ballgames in SEC play of not seeing as much two-back, downhill run that this conference is certainly known for, just different style of offense with A&M and certainly with Tennessee and Kentucky.

‘They featured more one-back sets and three open sets, where LSU is the opposite of that where they feature more two-back sets."

The bye week comes at a perfect time for preparation. Because of the early season schedule and facing offenses that were trying to throw the ball all over the field, the Gators spent a large part of practice game week practice, and even fall camp, working out of their nickel and dime packages.

After getting through the month of September with a 4-0 record, the focus on defense now changes.

The bye week gave Florida a chance to focus on itself during the Tuesday and Wednesday practices before LSU preparation began on Thursday. The Gators will spend more time in a traditional 4-3 defensive sets in those practices.

"I think it allows you to play more of your regular package," Quinn said. "When you go through the bye, it gives you an opportunity to go back and play some more of our traditional three-linebacker, four-down fronts and play that way a little bit more than the practice that we've had over the last few weeks, where it's been a higher percentage of practice snaps in our nickel and dime packages."

Just because Florida will be facing a team that wants to pound the ball on the ground, Quinn will also spend the week making sure his team stays disciplined. The talent on the Florida defense is among the best in the SEC, but the unit can hurt itself by being undisciplined and trying to make aggressive plays instead of holding gaps.

Discipline and making sure the defense is on the same page will be important against the Tigers since LSU is second in rushing offense in the SEC with 247.5 yards per game and ran for 238 yards against the Gators last year.

"You talk about fitting in the run game, making sure everybody's got their gap, and how you play it," Quinn said. "Sometimes you can pressure in the run, other times you want to make sure you're really sound in your run-fits.

"There have even been times in these first few games that our run fits haven't been just quite right, whether it's a nickel package or a regular package, and that's certainly an emphasis for us this week during the bye."

JENKINS WILL TRY CAST: Linebacker Jelani Jenkins is scheduled to meet with doctors on Friday to have the pin removed from his thumb. They'll make a determination closer to the game about his availability, but Will Muschamp said on Wednesday that if he's able to play, it will be in a cast.

Quinn said he has experience with players being on the field in casts, and comfort is usually the issue.

"I think it's the longer you go with it, the easier and more accustomed you get to playing with it," Quinn said. "The first time out when you play with a cast sometimes 'Ah, it feels big.' or 'Can we trim it off this spot here to get it where it feels just right?' Then, after you play with it and practice with it for a few days, you make the necessary adjustments to it and usually you have a better feel for it.

"It's certainly easier to do at linebacker or DB sometimes than at defensive line where you really need your hands on every single play. So it'll be an adjustment for him for sure, but one that I feel he'll be ready for the challenge."?

The Gators managed to go 2-0 in games that Jenkins didn't play in with wins against Kentucky and Tennessee. Jenkins broke his thumb in the first half of a win at Texas A&M. His return would give the Gators added experience in the Florida defense after freshman Antonio Morrison filled in at the position.

"He provides some real speed for us on the field," Quinn said. "I think the guy's a terrific blitzer. He can matchup tight end-wise when we get into our nickel package and just his experience playing linebacker. I don't think you can overlook that. Hopefully everything goes well with his checkup moving forward."


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