LSU Defense to face toughest test

The nation's No. 1 rated defense will face its toughest test of the year on Saturday when top-ranked LSU hosts Florida at 7:30 p.m. in a sold out Tiger Stadium.

The game will be televised to a national prime time audience by CBS. LSU, ranked No. 1 in the nation by the Associated Press and No. 2 in the USA Today Coaches Poll, brings a 5-0 overall mark and a 12-game winning streak into the contest following last week's 34-9 victory over Tulane.

Florida, the defending national champion, is ranked as high as No. 7 in the nation and is 4-1 overall following last week's 20-17 last-second loss to Auburn.

LSU's defense, which is rated No. 1 in the nation in total defense, rushing defense, and pass efficiency, will face its stiffest challenge of the year, going against a Florida offense that is averaging 42.8 points and 476.6 yards per game.

Florida, behind the play of quarterback Tim Tebow, has scored 50 or more points twice this year, including 59 in a victory over Tennessee. Tebow, who has accounted for 18 touchdowns – 11 passing, 8 rushing - this season, ranks third in the nation in pass efficiency and is averaging nearly 90 yards per game on the ground.

By contrast, LSU's defense is limiting opponents to just 6.4 points per game, a figure that leads the Southeastern Conference and ranks No. 2 in the nation, and 174.6 total yards per game. Through five games this year, LSU has allowed a total of 32 points and they have held opponents scoreless in 16 of 20 quarters. LSU has yet to allow a team to reach the 100-yard total in rushing yards.

"Anytime you play a quarterback that runs the football, it is a concern on defense," LSU coach Les Miles said earlier this week. "Tim Tebow is an outstanding quarterback who can do a variety of things on the field.

"(In order to defend him) it is going to be a mixture of things. If you load the box on a guy that can throw and has talented receivers, then you are just looking to give up big plays in the passing game. If you just sit back and apply coverage, and cover the field with everybody out of the box, then they start running the football which is a problem. There is going to be a mixture of both. We will have the ‘come get ya' load the box and play some coverage. We enjoy the match up."

In terms of total offense, Tebow is putting up 346 yards per game, which includes 259.4 yards per game. In five games, Tebow has attempted 122 passes with just two interceptions.

The Tigers will attempt to neutralize Tebow and the Gators with a defense that has been good this year against both the run and the pass. The Tigers, which has a front four that features an All-American in Glenn Dorsey along with a preseason All-America in defensive end Tyson Jackson, has racked up 18 sacks in five games. Dorsey, along with defensive back Danny McCray, leads the Tigers with three sacks apiece, while 11 other defender have at least one sack to their credit.

In five games, the Tigers allowed a combined 195 yards rushing, which is the fewest yards allowed over that span by an LSU team since 1969.

The Tigers run defense is supported by a pair of linebackers in Darry Beckwith and Ali Highsmith who are considered two of the best at the collegiate level. Highsmith leads the Tigers with 33 tackles, while Beckwith has 21 tackles, including 4.5 for losses.

When the Gators go to the air, they will face an LSU secondary that features safety Craig Steltz and cornerback Chevis Jackson, who have combined for six interceptions this year. The Tigers are allowing opponents to complete 41 percent of their passes and they have yielded only one touchdown through the air this year.

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