by Mark McLeod
That's right- four sophomores
received their first collegiate start when the Tigers opened the season on
September 2nd. Left defensive end Tyson Jackson, mike linebacker Luke Sanders,
and weakside linebacker Darry Beckwith saw significant action last year on
special teams and/or as reserves. Defensive tackle Marlon Favorite only played
in three games last season for the Tigers. That seemingly spells one heck of a
coaching job by defensive coordinator Bo Pellini, defensive line coach
THE BIG NASTIES
The Gators are finally beginning to
get healthy. Their projected starting guards prior to the season opener were Jim Tartt (6-3 315) and Ronnie Wilson. Both give
The loss of
Medder (6-5 315) was seemingly lost
last spring. However, he noted that a change had to be made. The redshirt junior
worked very hard in the weight room- the result being a stronger, more physical
lineman. Medder graded out high against
Left tackle Phil Trautwein (6-6
308) entered the season with very limited experience. Five starts later, the
junior who is charged with protecting Chris Leak's blind side has been singled
out for praise by Meyer. In fact, Trautwein was named co-offensive player of the
game by the
Overview: The biggest plus for the
Running back DeShawn Wynn, who has
been the Southeastern Conference's fourth leading rusher is doubtful for the LSU
game. He'll be replaced by quicker, faster backs that won't possess Wynn's
ability to pound for extra yardage. The offensive line has allowed nine sacks
this season. Last season, a
Are the Tigers the best front seven the Gators have faced? You bet. Well-coached, big, very athletic, and quick pretty much describes the LSU defensive front. As I noted above, they don't have a tremendous amount of experience, but there is certainly not a lack of talent. The Tigers rank 11th nationally in run defense. They lead the SEC in sacks with 19, which is fifth best nationally.
Quarterback Chris Leak (6-0 207) is
ninth in the nation in passing efficiency. He is 84-130 for 1,240 yards with an
SEC high 14 touchdown passes, which is second best in the country. He has not
put together a complete game in SEC play. He was sensational in the second half
"We can't have early turnovers or
miscues in this game," Leak said. "Obviously great teams like LSU will
capitalize on them and put points on the board. We have to make sure we stay on
schedule and make plays that need to be made. LSU is a great team defensively.
They have a lot of veterans. They are a disciplined defense and do a great job
running to the ball. We will have to play our best football to be successful.
This has always been a big game and a big game in the SEC. This is why you go to
True freshman reserve quarterback
Tim Tebow (6-3 229) continues to impress everybody with his ability to run the
football. Tebow brings a whole new aspect to the
Senior DeShawn Wynn (5-11 238) has
also been impressive. A senior who not nailed down the starting running back job
a few weeks ago is the SEC's fourth leading rusher with 354 yards on 64 carries,
a 5.5 yard average. However, he might have to sit this one out with a high ankle
sprain. Sophomore Kestahn Moore (5-10 212) figures to receive the most playing
time in Wynn's absence.
The unsung hero of this offense is
senior fullback Billy Latsko. He is an outstanding blocker who gives Leak
additional time to throw, Wynn and Moore the ability to get past the linebacker,
and is often spotted downfield knocking around a defensive back to clear a path
Ingram played basketball for the Gators and is one of the most athletic tight ends in the nation with speed and running ability galore. Ingram has hauled in eight passes for 100 yards. He picked up 38 yards on a big play against the Vols.
The Gators have one of the deepest and most talented receiving corps in the country. They can flat torch you when they opt to go four or five wide. The leader of the group is senior Dallas Baker (6-3 207) who leads the team with 27 receptions for 448 yards (16.6 ypc) and five touchdowns.
Fellow senior Jemalle Cornelius
(5-11 185) has 14 receptions and brings a tremendous 20.4 yards per catch
average with him. He has a lot of quickness and wiggle. The third starter is
junior Andre Caldwell (6-1 203) who was lost for much of the season last year.
"They blitzed us a lot and pretty much challenged us to beat man-to-man coverage and we couldn't do it," Cornelius said of the 2005 Bayou Bengals. "We have to do a better job of that this year."
True freshman Percy Harvin (5-11
180) is expected to see significant playing time after suffering a high ankle
The Gators reserves don't have the experience, but aren't lacking in speed and talent. True freshmen Jarred Fayson (6-0 202) and Riley Cooper (6-3 206) have made an immediate impression and will see playing time. Both are fast, fluid, and usually have good hands.
Overview: Leak and his receivers combine to make-up a terrific blend of experience, speed, and talent. The running game which had been a big question mark before coming of age is now a question mark with the potential absence of Wynn. Florida desperately needs a spark from Moore, (reserve running backs) Brandon James, and Markus Manson, and the speedy Percy Harvin.
The LSU secondary has picked off nine passes this season, which is tops in the conference and fifth nationally. Meyer and company are well-versed in the competition.
"They have two very good corners,"
Meyer said of his western division rival. "I think their corners are as good as
This will be one more serious test
Intangibles: Tough stretch…
Analysis: Obviously, the Gators must
generate some offense. But, there are four things that simply must happen for
LSU has limited opponents to just 61 first downs all year. The Gators lead the conference with 111 first downs. They rank second in third down defense allowing 27.1%. They've only given up two touchdowns to opponents in nine trips in the red zone. Their 44.4 % average ranks second in the conference. The Tigers have also picked up 11 turnovers.
The greatest challenge is before
The LSU OFFENSE
by Matt Deville
The LSU Tigers have had two weeks
to lick their wounds after a physically trying and emotionally draining 7-3 loss
The Tigers took out a little
frustration on the likes of Tulane and
It is back to the real thing this
week as LSU prepares to travel to
LSU struggled to run the football
Here we take a look at the LSU offense from top to bottom, examine its strengths and weaknesses and catch you up on whose done what so far this season.
Probably the biggest question mark coming into the season for the Tigers was the offensive line.
LSU lost three starters from last year's O-Line, including all-American Andrew Whitworth. Also lost were veterans Rudy Niswanger and Nate Livings. Replacing all three of those key players was to be the toughest task for Les Miles.
However, the cupboard wasn't totally bare for the Tigers as three players returned who had started games last season including all-American candidate left guard Will Arnold, center Brett Helms and right guard Brian Johnson.
Slated to fill in the vacant tackle positions were redshirt freshman Ciron Black on the left side and fifth-year senior Peter Dyakowski.
With what many thought to be a stable of talented running backs, the initial thought was the front five needed to merely pass block well allowing JaMarcus Russell time to throw the ball. The running backs would need only a crease here and there to make things happen.
However, the Tiger runners have
stumbled out of the gate (ran for 42 yards at
As bad as LSU has been advancing
the ball via the rush, the big men have done an excellent job protecting
Russell. The 6-6 signal caller has been sacked only four times this season,
including only one coming at the hands of the blitz-happy
Coming into the
Johnson returns to the lineup at right guard after missing the last two games with turf toe.
Overview: LSU has most definitely struggled running the ball and people want Miles and offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher to throw the ball to set up the run.
With Arnold out of the lineup, this even further lessens LSU's chances of effectively running the ball especially against a Florida rushing defense that is giving up just 50 yards per game (4th nationally).
Johnson is a very capable replacement for Arnold and can move quite for a guy his size, 6-8, 340. Johnson is a seasoned veteran on the other side of center and he should be ready to go after nursing turf toe for the last two weeks.
THE SKILL GUYS
While LSU has really struggled running the ball, the Tigers have tossed it around as well as anyone in the country.
JaMarcus Russell was named SEC
Offensive Player of the Week this week after completing 18 of 20 passes for 330
yards and three touchdowns versus
The junior from
"It's going to be a good one,"
Russell said of the impending SEC showdown with
Nearly two years ago that October night, Russell was 6-of-10 passing for 56 yards with two interceptions and the stat sheet also shows two rushes for minus eight yards.
My how things have changed.
Russell is currently ranked second
nationally in passing efficiency. Completing 68-percent of his passes, Russell
has connected on 83 of 122 passes for 1,246 yards and 10 touchdowns. He has
thrown just one interception this season, versus
One of the big reasons for Russell's high passer rating is that he has arguably the best group of wide receivers in the nation. The Tiger wideouts are big, physical specimen blessed with lots of speed.
Dwayne Bowe (6-3, 217), Craig Davis
(6-2, 200), Early Doucet (6-0, 206) and Brandon LaFell (6-3, 190) provide big,
physical targets for which Russell to throw. Bowe is LSU's dominant receiver,
Bowe has 21 catches. for 353 and
three touchdowns. The Russell to Bowe combo ran their TD streak to 15 with a
second quarter score against
Doucet is coming into his own as a junior and actually leads all Tiger wide receivers with five touchdown catches. He has 18 catches on the season for 252 yards.
Freshman tight end Richard Dixon has became LSU's primary tight end. The true freshman has stepped in for senior tight end Keith Zinger, whose career might be over as he battles the abdominal ailment ulcerative colitis.
The running game has been the focus of most of the criticism from Tiger fans this season. LSU was supposed to be loaded to the gills with running backs, highlighted by the return of veterans Alley Broussard and Justin Vincent.
Both Broussard and Vincent suffered
knee injuries last season, Broussard before the year even began. Vincent tore up
his knee in the Peach Bowl win over
But with the acquisition of true freshmen Charles Scott, Keiland Williams and Richard Murphy, along with returning players Antonio Robinson, RJ Jackson and Jacob Hester, LSU was projected to be a run-dominated offense.
Both Broussard and Vincent have
failed to return to full speed. Broussard is overweight and Vincent lacks the
burst needed to hit the hole effectively. Robinson transferred to
Richard Murphy has decided to redshirt and Keiland Williams was late arriving because of NCAA Clearinghouse issues, has been used in mop-up duty and has proved to be a non-factor.
That leaves Scott, who has emerged as LSU's go-to running back. Looking very similar to a young LaBrandon Toefield, Scott combines an equal mix of size, speed and a slashing running style. His 101 yards against Tulane was LSU's only 100-yard rushing performance of the season. He leads all LSU rushers with 214 yards on 35 carries and five touchdowns.
Hester has been the Tigers only other successful player out of the backfield. Although the fullback/ tailback doesn't possess the necessary speed to be an every down back, he can catch the ball out of the backfield and provide a safety valve for Russell when the blitz is coming.
Overview: Fisher hasn't necessarily scrapped the
running game totally, but the Tigers came out slinging the ball around against
Russell has completed 35 of 43 passes in the last two games for 508 yards and five touchdowns. The Tigers have thrown on first down often, something they did not do in the earlier part of the season.
However, in bigger games like
Saturday's, Miles has tended to go more conservative on offense (i.e.
Folks around Baton Rouge have been
screaming for Miles to allow offensive coordinator Jimbo Fisher to open up the
playbook more and allow quarterback JaMarcus Russell to toss the ball around.
The offense has opened up more in the last two games, but with the Gators'
sporting a pretty stiff run defense, LSU might look to the air more often. As