Gators Preparing for LSU

The Gators have their chance to see where they stack up with one of the best teams in the country on October 6. The LSU Tigers come to town for Florida's biggest game of the early season. LSU didn't look sharp in a 12-10 win over Auburn on September 22, but the Gators are preparing for one of the best defenses in the country. It's a defense that shut down what Florida wanted to do last year.

"They're good," said offensive coordinator Brent Pease, noting that it's ‘absolutely' a chance for Florida to see how good it is. "This is a defining moment to see where we're at and how well we've got to play."

Florida has already played important conference games against Texas A&M and Tennessee. October 6 will be the second Southeastern Conference game for the Tigers after their first game against Auburn. They already have the benefit of playing one road game in a hostile environment at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

There was a different energy from the Florida coordinators during the bye week. Part of it was their energy to talk about working with the team and not having to immediately prepare for an opponent. There was also excitement about the matchup with LSU.

The first SEC game at Texas A&M and a rivalry game at Tennessee are always exciting. However, a top three team coming to Gainesville is on another level.

"I think when you talk about the SEC play, it kind of gets you fired up," Florida defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said. "There's a great game for us coming up and it's exactly why you come to Florida as a player and as a coach—to have opportunities to play and coach in games like this. It's the next one for us and it's a big one."

The Gators are using the tape of the first four games of the year, and the fifth next week after LSU plays Towson, to look at individual players on both sides of the ball for the Tigers. Pease said that Florida will look at the schemes on both sides of the ball, but film study can be tough without knowing how much the opponent showed.

"I don't really know what they showed," Pease said. "They plan on a game-to-game basis. I don't think in any situation you go in and save this, save that. You've got to go in to win the game. But did we get something from studying them? Yeah. You see how guys play in a tight situation. Trying to get the tendencies of what they want to do based off the formations that they're playing against. We're studying that film because we have it."

To no surprise, this year's LSU offense is predicated on running the football just as it has been every year since Les Miles took over. With Alfred Blue likely out for the game against Florida, the Tigers still have three trusted running backs—Michael Ford, Kenny Hilliard and Spencer Ware, who led the way with 16 carries and 90 yards against Auburn. Ford and Hillard had eight and ten carries, respectively.

"They were certainly running the ball just as well as they have in their game," Quinn said. "I think that's one of the things when you talk about their club that they really know how to do well. Going back to our game, they threw it well and they ran it well against us. They have talent at QB and a number of running backs who can carry it and a veteran offensive line. It'll be a big challenge for us and one we're looking forward to."

PEASE CRITICAL OF DEBOSE: On Monday, Florida coach Will Muschamp criticized Andre Debose's practice effort and blamed it for why the redshirt junior hasn't caught a ball on offense this year. Pease agreed with that and expects more out of the receiver.

"He's got to get confident and do it consistently with what we're doing in the offense. There's a trust factor there. You got out there, you're going to run the right route. You're going to do it hard, whether you're covered or not. Because sometimes running a route, it isn't always built for you. Depending on what the coverage does, you've got to open it up for other players, if they double team you or play a cloud coverage over the top of you.

"You've got to stretch the safeties. And if you don't do that you hurt your teammates. So it's just a combination of being consistent, understanding, playing effort all the way through. Because, even as a receiver, you're covered at times. You have to compete. You have to continue to try to get yourself open. You can't say, 'Well I'm covered. I'm done running my route.' And just accept the fact you're covered. That's unacceptable."

Pease was asked if there is still a role in the offense for Debose, and he responded in shock. The receiver's elite speed means there's always a spot in the offense for him if the practice effort is more consistent.

"I think anybody that's got a talent like he does, there's a role," Pease said. "I've never really been in an offense where it's centered around one guy. It's not so much about him, it's about what the defensive coordinator's got to handle and what they've got to account for.

"So how you fit in, and how you are unselfish in everything that you do and open it up, or people worry about Jordan Reed on the other side of the field. Or they worry about Trey Burton on the other side of the field. Now you're singled up. You take advantage of those things. If you don't take advantage of those things when your number is called, I mean, why? Why not? That's your job. That's your responsibility. Get it done."


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