Derick E. Hingle/USA Today

Florida Gators’ opponent preview: LSU Tigers

Florida heads to Baton Rouge this weekend for a matchup of top 10 teams.

OFFENSE

The Tigers come into Saturday’s showdown ranked No. 3 in the SEC in scoring offense at 37.8 points per game. LSU ranks No. 1 in rushing offense (346.4 yards, 114.9 yards more than any other SEC team), No. 3 in total offense (468.4 yards) and No. 14 in pass offense (122 yards, 31.8 fewer than any other SEC school).

QUARTERBACK

The quarterback position has been question mark for a long time in Baton Rouge. Brandon Harris showed signs of improvement on Saturday against South Carolina, going 18-28 through the air for 228 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

Harris can also be a threat with his legs, gaining 204 yards on the ground. His athleticism can be a problem for opposing defenses.

RUNNING BACK

Leonard Fournette is the unquestioned favorite for the Heisman Trophy at this point in the season. He is past the 1,000-yard mark through just five games this season, averaging 204.4 yards per game while going for 8.6 yards per carry. What makes the LSU rushing attack special is that they can keep Fournette fresh with their other backs.

Derrius Guice and Darrel Williams have both made impacts this season. Guice, a freshman that was a five-star recruit, is averaging 9.1 yards per carry, totaling 263 rushing yards on just 29 carries. He was named SEC Freshman of the Week after rushing 16 times for 161 yards and one touchdown last week against South Carolina. Williams has 43 rushes for 244 yards and two touchdowns.

Another note here is that LSU fullback John David Moore is expected to miss Saturday’s game with a knee injury.

WIDE RECEIVER

The Tigers haven’t needed much passing because of their rushing attack, but when they do throw the ball, they have playmakers capable of finding the end zone.

Travin Dural is the team’s big-play threat, averaging 16.4 yards per reception. Dural has caught just 14 passes in five games, but he has 229 yards and one touchdown with a long of 62 yards. Malachi Dupre also has 14 catches, going for 196 yards and two touchdowns.

No other LSU receiver has more than three catches on the year.

TIGHT END

Dillon Gordon is listed as the starter at tight end on the LSU depth chart, but he hasn’t caught a pass this season after injuring his Achilles against Auburn in the second game of the season. Colin Jeter is the best threat as a pass catcher so far, but he only has four catches for 45 yards and one touchdown in five games played.

OFFENSIVE LINE

Left tackle Jerald Hawkins suffered an ankle injury against South Carolina but returned to the game and will play against Florida. Since redshirting in 2012, Hawkins has started all 31 games. He started at right tackle the last two years before moving to left tackle this year. Left guard Maea Teuhema, Scout’s No. 1 offensive guard in the 2015 recruiting class, is now starting for the Tigers at 6-5, 327 pounds.

Center Ethan Pocic has moved around at center and guard since the 2014 season when he started every game.

Right guard William Clapp is a redshirt freshman from New Orleans. He started the season opener at left guard before moving to right guard and staying there since the second game of the season. Right tackle Vadal Alexander has 39 career starts at guard and tackle spots, but he has settled into the right tackle spots for the Tigers this year.

 

DEFENSE

LSU ranks No. 10 in the SEC in scoring defense (22 points). The Tigers are No. 3 in rush defense (99.6 yards), No. 4 in pass defense (191.8 yards) and No. 3 in total defense (291.4 yards).

DEFENSIVE LINE

At defensive end, Lewis Neal is the team leader with four sacks and added three quarterback hurries to his 20 tackles and one fumble recovery. At the other defensive end position, the Tigers have played Tashawn Bower and freshman Arden Key. Bower missed last week’s game with a leg injury but will return on Saturday. Key has 15 tackles and one sack but leads the team with five quarterback hurries.

The starting defensive tackles are Davon Godchaux and Christian LaCouture. Godchaux is a disruptive force, leading the Tigers with five tackles for a loss and adding three sacks, one pass breakup and one quarterback hurry. LaCouture has 17 tackles on the season.

LINEBACKER

The Tigers start Lamar Louis at the SAM, Kendell Beckwith at MIKE and Deion Jones at WILL. Beckwith leads the Tigers with 33 tackles, including two tackles for a loss, one pass breakup and one pass deflection. Jones is second on the team with 31 tackles and 2.5 tackles for a loss, including two interceptions, two pass deflections and three quarterback hurries.

Louis is the third linebacker for the Tigers, but he has only started two games and made 10 tackles since LSU plays mostly in the nickel so far this season.

CORNERBACK

Tre’Davious White is the team’s best cornerback. He’s fifth on the team with 20 tackles and has three pass breakups and three pass deflections. Opposite of him, both Dwayne Thomas and true freshman Kevin Toliver II see time. Thomas leads the team with four pass breakups and four pass deflections while Toliver is one of four players on the LSU roster with an interception this year.

SAFETY

The big injury news for the Tigers comes in the return of safety Jalen Mills. He has missed the first five games of the season with an ankle injury but is expected to be back in the lineup on Saturday. Mills came into this season with more starts (39) than any other player on the LSU defense, starting every game of his time in Baton Rouge before this season. He has six interceptions and 186 tackles in his career.

Jamal Adams has 21 tackles and two tackles for a loss this season to go with two interceptions. He’ll start opposite of Mills while Rickey Jefferson, who is third on the team in tackles, will move to the bench.

SPECIAL TEAMS

LSU is No. 12 in the SEC while averaging 33.3 yards per punt. The Tigers are also No. 12 in kickoff returns, averaging 17.7 yards per return. LSU is last in the SEC in kickoff coverage while giving up 36.1 yards per kickoff return.

The best part of the LSU special teams is kicker Trent Domingue, who is 7-7 with a long of 45 yards this year.


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