Scouting Report: LSU Defense/Special Teams

If you look at the numbers, the LSU defense is downright scary. Through five games the stats are overwhelming: 39 yards a game on the ground, 136 in the air and just 6.4 points.

They have allowed four touchdowns in five games while forcing 11 turnovers. They average eight tackles for loss a game. They have size, speed, talent and experience. Other than that, they're kind of ordinary.

Defensive line ----- It all starts up front with a phenomenal collection of defensive linemen. The group is led by the guy I consider to be the best tackle America, Glenn Dorsey (6-2, 303). He is great against the run and gets tremendous push in their pass rush. A double team is not always an even fight against this monster, so you definitely don't want to run your quarterback up the middle against him. Marlon Favorite holds down the other tackle spot with Al Woods off the bench a future star. The defensive ends are bigger and better than most with Tyson Jackson (6-5, 291) and Kirston Pittman (6-4, 252) who have excellent size and speed. This is the best unit Florida will see by a wide margin.

Linebackers ----- LSU has the best linebacking trio in the SEC and one of the best in the nation, led by Ali Highsmith (6-1, 223) who is their leading tackler. Darryl Beckwith (6-1, 230) is a strong presence in the middle and Luke Sanders (6-5, 242) is a specimen on the strong side. They can all run and hit, but are not great in coverage (other than Highsmith). South Carolina had success throwing to running backs out of the backfield and that may be an area Florida chooses to explore.

Secondary ---- The secondary is very good, but not spectacular. I really like the safeties. Danny McCray loves to blitz. And while he's not listed as a starter it seems like he's always in there. He has three quarterback sacks and is second on the team in tackles. Craig Steltz is a ball hawk with four interceptions. Curtis Taylor is the third safety and listed as the starter at free safety. Since opponents are always in bad down-and-distance they have three safeties on the field more often than not. The corners are good players, but you can go after them. Jonathan Zenon and Chevis Jackson have three interceptions between them.

Overall this is a superb defense. South Carolina was able to throw for 244 yards, and Tulane ran for 88 so they are human. They're just a lot less human than most other defenses. The Gators must diversify their offense and make LSU respect all threats. It's also important for the Gator to handle blitzes because Bo Pellini is not a defensive coordinator who believes in two deep zones and bend but don't break schemes. Ball control could be big on Saturday night in terms of frustrating the LSU offense and trying to take the crowd out of the game. Florida has to at least triple the 39 yards a game on the ground LSU normally gives up.

Special Teams ----- LSU kickoff and punt returns have been negligible despite the threat posed by Trindon Holliday. LSU opponents have managed on 19 yard punt return and a 44 yard kickoff return, but those are the exceptions, not the rule. Their punter, Patrick Fisher is a good one, averaging 44.1 but he has had one blocked. The place kicker David Colt is 8-for-8 from 36 yards in with misses from 37 and 42. LSU traditionally has had some great special teams, but this year they are merely good. This is a match up that Florida can and should win.

Questions or comments? Contact's Larry Vettel

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