Gators vs. LSU Head-to-Head Matchup

It's official. When it comes to SEC contests, these are the big play Gators. They have lived by it against Tennessee and Mississippi State and died by it against Alabama. Like Alabama's Tyrone Prothro, there are some athletic, speed types in Tigerland that Florida will have to tranquilize.

Kentucky? C'mon, they don't really count. Their fans were yelling wait ‘til basketball season in the parking lot before kickoff for goodness sakes.

With the semi-spread offense and Chris Leak (shoulder) struggling, Florida’s best chance for big play productivity might lie with their defense and special teams.

The Tigers fumbled the ball five times, losing three of them, and quarterback JaMarcus Russell threw and interception last Saturday night in Nashville. The Gators have to convert if they get those opportunities.

LSU offensive line vs Florida defensive front

LSU offense: Multiple Florida defense: Multiple, 4-3

*** LSU ***

Thus far the teams have had two common opponents, Tennessee and Mississippi State. Looking at the running game, the Tigers had 33 carries for 98 yards against the Vols. They finished with 37 carries for 171 yards two weeks ago against Mississippi State.

Florida’s offensive line finished with numbers that were similar against both opponents. The Bayou Bengals did a better job in pass blocking than the Gators front against the Vols. They gave up two sacks, while Florida gave up five. Both teams gave up a pair of sacks to the Bulldogs.

Freshman center Ryan Miller was a phenomenal high school prospect at Barbe high school. He sat out last season for some much needed time in the weight room. Reportedly, Miller’s strengths are that he is a technically sound player who has a good understanding of the game.

Will Arnold was outstanding last season as a redshirt freshman earning freshman conference and national honors for his play. The left guard is exceptionally strong and plays with an intensity the LSU staff absolutely loves.

Right guard Herman Johnson obviously survived the Ice Age. He should be dubbed “Tyrannosaurus-J” for his 6-7 371 size. His long arms give him a tremendous advantage as a pass blocker. He has not yet developed into a sound run blocker.

The Tigers tackles are outstanding. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth is a returning first team All-SEC performer. Whitworth possesses a nasty attitude that he employs in drive blocking. He is also an outstanding pass blocker.

Right tackle Nate Livings is starting his third season for LSU. He has good footwork and gets leverage on his opponent. Solid in pass blocking. Not the strongest member of the Tigers offensive front, but very, very good.


#63 Ryan Miller 6-6 305 Fr. Sq. Lake Charles, La.

#73 Will Arnold 6-4 300 So. 1L Gloster, Ms.
#79 Herman Johnson 6-7 371 Fr. Sq Denton, Tx.

#76 Andrew Whitworth 6-7 325 Sr. 3L West Monroe, La.
#71 Nate Livings 6-5 262 Sr. 2L Lake Charles, La.

By the way…The Gators have won their last three meetings in Baton Rouge.

*** Florida ***

The Florida defensive line had its’ most impressive game to date as they destroyed an unimpressive Mississippi State offensive front. Jeremy Mincey has been the Gators best defensive linemen and did not fall off last weekend with 10 tackles, including 2.5 tackles for loss and a pair of sacks. His play earned him SEC Defensive Lineman of the Week.

Joe Cohen and Marcus Thomas were also very good. The up and coming play of Derrick Harvey and Jarvis Moss was a boost to the Gators defense. Moss recorded credit for one half of a sack. Their continued improvement will be much needed as key contests with Georgia, Vandy, and Florida State loom on the horizon.

Brandon Siler had an incredible game himself. Siler recorded only four tackles, but two of those were for a loss, a sack, two quarterback hurries, and two passes broken-up. His sack of Mike Henig resulted in two points for the Gators on their second safety.

#44 Marcus Thomas 6-3 285 Jr. 2L Jacksonville
#93 Steven Harris 6-4 281 Jr. 2L Miami
#98 Clint McMillan 6-1 282 So. 1L Oviedo
#99 Lutrell Alford 6-2 290 So. Sq. Gainesville

#57 Jeremy Mincey 6-4 265 Sr. 1L Statesboro, Ga
#20 Joe Cohen 6-2 275 Jr. 2L Melbourne
#91 Derrick Harvey 6-4 260 Fr. Sq Greenbelt, Md.
#94 Jarvis Moss 6-6 245 So. Sq. Denton, Tx.

#40 Brandon Siler 6-2 239 So. 1L Orlando
#30 Earl Everett 6-2 231 Jr. 2L Webster

#47 Todd McCullough 6-5 233 Sr. 3L Jacksonville
#13 Brian Crum 6-3 237 Jr. 1L Woodbine, Ga.
#55 Jon Demps 6-4 219 Fr. HS Pensacola
#42 Billy Latsko 5-10 230 Jr. 2L Gainesville

Analysis: LSU has a big, powerful offensive front that will certainly try to establish the run with a pair of outstanding backs in Joseph Addai and Justin Vincent. Tht is evidenced by the fact that they have thrown fewer passes (117) than any other team in the conference. They had a outstanding half of football against Mississippi State, an outstanding half against Georgia, and a great fourth quarter against Vanderbilt last week. While they are capable, none equal to a complete game performance.

The Gators defensive front has been consistent throughout the season, with the exception of the Alabama game, which was the last road outing for Florida. The Gators are getting more out of reserves Derrick Harvey and Jarvis Moss. That coupled with the possible return of defensive end Ray McDonald leads one to believe that the best is yet to come for this defensive front.

Until the Tigers put together a entire game…


LSU skills positions vs Florida secondary

*** LSU ***

Quarterback JaMarcus Russell has completed 72 of 113 for 881 yards and five touchdowns. He has thrown a pair of interceptions. The strapping quarterback is not a threat to run the ball.

Joseph Addai is the second leading rusher in the SEC. He has a tremendous blend of power, speed, and hands to go with great vision. He leads the Tigers with 73 carries for 381 yards and a team high, five touchdowns.

Reserve Justin Vincent has had some issues to resolve since playing a key role in the Tigers offense his freshman season. Vincent has only 27 carries for 135 yards.

The Tigers leading receiver is all everything playmaker Skyler Green. He has outstanding speed and runs very well after the catch. Green has only 17 receptions, which oddly enough is a team high. Green averages 8.4 yards per catch.

Early Doucet set the recruiting world ablaze two years ago, when he was widely considered the top wide receiver prospect in the country. The big play catalyst with outstanding speed earned freshman All-SEC honors last season after catching 18 passes for 257 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Doucet has just about matched those numbers in ’05 with 14 receptions for 227 yards two touchdowns.

Dwayne Bowe didn’t play football until his junior year at Miami Norland. He is making up for lost time now though. Bowe, who has great hands, and athleticism to go with average to good speed is the Tigers third leading receiver this season. Bowe has hauled in 10 passes for 184 yards. He has no touchdowns though.

By the way…LSU WR Xavier Carter of Palm Bay High School will meet former teammate Reggie Nelson for the first time since their days on the Melbourne practice field. This will be one to watch.

#4 JaMarcus Russell 6-5 248 So. 1L Mobile, AL.

Running backs
#44 Kevin Steltz 5-9 244 Sr. 2L New Orleans, La.
#10 Joseph Addai 6-0 210 Sr. 3L Houston, Tx.

Tight end
#89 Keith Zinger 6-4 247 Jr. 2L Leesville, AL.

Wide receivers
#80 Dwayne Bowe 6-3 213 Jr. 2L Miami, FL.
#3 Craig Davis 6-2 195 Jr. 2L New Orleans, La.
#5 Skyler Green 5-10 195 Sr. 3L Westwego, La.
#9 Early Doucet 6-0 213 So. 1L St. Martinsville, La.

*** Florida ***

With the exception of Kyle Jackson missing a key tackle on Mississippi State running back Jerious Norwood’s 76 yard jaunt last weekend the Gators guarded against giving up the big play and shutting down the Bulldogs attempts to move the football via the air.

Vernell Brown continues to have an All-SEC year. He was lights out against Mississippi State. Playing opposite is Jacksonville’s Dee Webb, who has also been outstanding. However, look for the continued emergence of Reggie Nelson, who is the playmaker of this squad. The coaches would love nothing more than to see Nelson disrupt the LSU running game with a few timely blitzes and even pick off an LSU screen.

#15 Dee Webb 5-11 190 Jr. 3L Jacksonville
#16 Vernell Brown 5-8 165 Sr. 2L Gainesville
#32 Reggie Nelson 6-1 175 So. TR Melbourne
#22 Reggie Lewis 5-10 195 Jr. 2L Jacksonville
#4 Avery Atkins 5-11 189 Fr. HS Daytona Beach

#46 Jarvis Herring 5-11 205 Sr. 3L Live Oak
#3 Kyle Jackson 6-1 200 So. 1L Jacksonville
#19 Tony Joiner 5-11 200 So. 1L Haines City
#49 Terrance Holmes 5-11 202 Jr. 2L Glassboro, NJ

Analysis: Russell has a high completion percentage (63.7%) and a talented group of receivers. One would think that Green, Bowe, and Doucet would have more big plays. Only Bowe has a reception longer than forty yards. Furthermore, the trio are the only LSU receivers with more than 10 receptions this season. Russell has time to throw as he has only been sacked nine times. The Gators will have their biggest test of the season against the Tigers. LSU has tons of speed, talent, and athleticism. Some in Bayou country don’t feel as though they’re being utilized properly. Steve Spurrier is drooling for talent like this at SC. Again, they have only thrown 117 passes on the season. That’s fine with us. Until they effectively use this plethora of talent… SLIGHT EDGE: Florida

Florida offensive line vs LSU defensive front

Florida Offense: Semi-Spread

LSU Defense: 4-3

*** Florida ***

Florida is tied with lowly Mississippi State in giving up a league high 20 sacks this season. The pass blocking has been abysmal at times and satisfactory to solid at others. Much of the same can be said about the run blocking too.

Coach Hevesy has mixed and matched throughout the season at guard. Prior to the opening game, Florida appeared to have the pieces in order to have an outstanding offensive front, but that has simply not been the case. Jim Tartt will be an outstanding guard once he is physically ready to assume the position.

It appears that Drew Miller, Tavares Washington, and Steve Rissler have all had ups and downs at the position. Last weekend, Rissler and Washington started for the Gators alongside tackles Randy Hand and Lance Butler, who have also had their struggles.

I would imagine that as the season progresses into late October, things should begin to click for this unit. The way the bodies have been rotating in there, everybody will have been given a chance by then. If not, the problems are much deeper than we’ve been led to believe.

Injuries: Jim Tartt (shoulder and ribs, Mike Degory (knee and ankle), and Tavares Washington (elbow). All should play.


#68 Mike Degory 6-6 304 Sr. 3L Melbourne

#79 Steve Rissler 6-3 310 Jr. 2L Sarasota


#76 Tavares Washington 6-4 320 Sr. Sq Greenville, MS

#79 Steve Rissler 6-3 310 Jr. 2L Sarasota

#63 Jim Tartt 6-3 315 Fr. Sq. Sopchoppy

#67 Drew Miller 6-5 310 So. 1L Sarasota


#74 Randy Hand 6-6 310 Sr. 3L Ft. Myers

#72 Lance Butler 6-7 315 Sr. 2L Lexington, NC

#77 Jason Watkins 6-6 300 Fr. Sq. Lake Gibson

#75 Phil Trautwein 6-6 310 So. 1L Voorhees, NJ

*** LSU ***

Melvin Oliver, Claude Wroten, and Kyle Williams are having solid campaigns. Oliver has been credited with 19 tackles, second best among defensive linemen. He also has accumulated a tackle for loss and sack among them. Oliver has ten quarterback hurries.

Wroten has the entire package-size, speed, quickness, and intensity. The 2004 first team All-SEC selection has amassed 15 quarterback hurries, four tackles for loss, and 2.5 sacks this season. He has also blocked a kick.

Opposite tackle Kyle Williams is a serious competitor, who will give up his body to make a play. Williams leads the defensive line with 22 tackles and nine quarterback hurries.

Middle linebacker Cameron Vaughn leads the Tigers with 28 tackles.

Ali Highsmith has good speed for a strongside linebacker. Highsmith is the Tigers second leading tackler with 27. He has three tackles for loss, two sacks, and three forced fumbles. He doesn’t appear as sound dropping back into coverage.



#98 Claude Wroten 6-3 293 Sr. 1L Bastrop, La.

#95 Kyle Williams 6-2 295 Sr. 2L Ruston, La.


#90 Melvin Oliver 6-3 274 Sr. 3L Opelika, AL.

#94 Chase Pittman 6-3 242 Jr. Tr Shreveport, La.


#46 Cameron Vaughn 6-4 237 Sr. 3L Terrytown, La.

#56 Kenneth Hollis 6-0 235 Sr. 1L Adamsville, AL.

#7 Ali Highsmith 6-1 225 So. 1L Miami, FL.

Analysis: Wroten and Williams are not the ideal opponent for a team that is trying to find the alignment at guard. Oliver and Pittman are also very sound at D-end.


Florida skills positions vs LSU secondary

*** Florida ***

Chris Leak didn’t practice all week with a shoulder injury and it showed. The ball sailed on him last Saturday and he looked as though he made a few bad reads in situations where he missed an open receiver and missed making the pitch.

Dallas Baker continues to improve. Baker is now among the best in the Southeastern Conference in receptions and yards per game.

Markus Manson looked pretty impressive with only three first half carries, but he picked up 31 yards. Manson hit the hole quickly and demonstrated good vision on his cuts.

Injuries: Chris Leak (shoulder) and Jemalle Cornelius (ankle)


#12 Chris Leak 6-0 210 Jr. 2L Charlotte, NC

#4 Josh Portis 6-4 210 Fr. HS Woodland Hills, Ca.

Running back

#2 Markus Manson 6-0 210 Fr. Sq Tuscaloosa, Ala.

#21 DeShawn Wynn 5-11 230 Jr. 2L Cincinnati, Oh.

#25 Skyler Thornton 5-11 209 Jr. 2L LaGrange, Ga.

#33 Kestahn Moore 5-10 205 Fr. HS Arlington, Tx.

Tight End

#84 Tate Casey 6-6 242 So. 1L Longview, Tx.

Wide receiver

#8 Chad Jackson 6-1 205 Jr. 2L Hoover, AL

#81 Dallas Baker 6-3 204 Jr. 2L New Smyrna Beach

#6 Jemalle Cornelius 5-11 190 Jr. 2L Fort Meade

#28 Kyle Morgan

#17 Gavin Dickey 5-11 205 Jr. 1L Tallahassee

#3 Kenneth Tookes 6-2 209 Jr. 1L Jacksonville

*** LSU ***

LaRon Landry is among the best defensive backs in the Southeastern Conference. Landry has led the Tigers in tackles the past two seasons. Known as a fierce hitter who is seemingly always around the football, Landry has not disappointed this season. He leads the team with two interceptions and has broken up three passes.

Cornerback Ronnie Prude has broken up six passes and picked off one this season. He is a very athletic player with good, but not great speed. Prude has played as a reserve the past two seasons. He recorded four tackles, including a tackle for loss against Florida in ’04.

Jessie Daniels has terrific speed and makes most of the defensive calls. He had a season high eight tackles against Florida last season. They usually won’t blitz him often. Daniels has broken up three passes in ’05.


#8 Ronnie Prude 5-11 182 Sr. 3L Shreveport, La.

#21 Chevis Jackson 6-0 185 So. 1L Mobile, AL.


#30 LaRon Landry 6-2 187 Jr. 2L Ama, La.

#31 Jessie Daniels 5-11 200 Jr. 2L Breaux Bridge, La.

Analysis: The Gators must make big plays and keep a rowdy Bayou Bengal crowd from getting too worked up early. The big question is will Leak be better?


Special teams

LSU place kicker Chris Jackson has only hit two of four. Jackson missed two last weekend from 42 and 47 versus Vanderbilt. That doesn’t bode well for the Tigers. Second year walk-on David Colt has been kicking the PAT’s and has also added a pair of field goals this season.

Return man extraordinaire Skyler Green is second in the Southeastern Conference in punt returns (15.5 ypr) and is currently eighth in kickoff returns (23.2 ypr). He is always a threat to take one back.

Punter Eric Wilbur was outstanding pinning Mississippi State at the one yard line last weekend, with an assist from Reggie Nelson. He is currently fourth in the SEC.

Florida has also gotten good results from walk-on kicker Chris Hetland, who has yet to miss one. Hetland should also handle the kickoff duties which have been lass than average.

*** LSU ***

#41 Chris Jackson (PK) 5-11 165 Jr. 2L River Ridge, La.

#41 Chris Jackson (PK) 5-11 165 Jr. 2L River Ridge, La.


#5 Skyler Green (PR) 5-10 195 Sr. 3L Westwego, La.

#5 Skyler Green (KR) 5-10 195 Sr. 3L Westwego, La.

*** Florida ***

#10 Eric Wilber (P) 6-1 195 Jr. 2L Winter Park

#39 Chris Hetland (PK) 6-0 185 Jr. Sq Leesburg

#43 James Smith (LS) 6-1 225 Fr. Sq Gainesville

#16 Vernell Brown (PR) 5-8 165 Sr. 2L Gainesville

#17 Gavin Dickey (KR) 5-11 205 Jr. 1L Tallahassee

#2 Markus Manson (KR) 6-0 210 Fr. Sq Tuscaloosa, Ala.

Analysis: The Gators get the edge in both kicking, punting, and punt coverage. The Tigers have an advantage with Skyler Green. Florida should know plenty about him and play a little keep away.


Pick: Both defenses are solid. Florida’s offensive woes certainly don’t give me any confidence. LSU gets the win.

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