Florida Football Three Keys: LSU


Florida visits LSU on Saturday in Baton Rouge. Here are your three keys to a Florida win over LSU.

By Matt Zemek

The Florida Gators have given the LSU Tigers a hard time in recent years. They will count on their toughness and their defense to keep them competitive Saturday night in Tiger Stadium. However, one side of the ball can only do so much, and what’s more is that LSU has evolved a lot from the team the Gators defeated a year ago in The Swamp.

Addressing the reality of LSU’s evolution is what the Gators must find a way to achieve as they venture into the Bayou for one of the big games of the week.

Key 1 – Pass rush

There are several huge keys for the Gators in this game, but they won’t matter very much if this one doesn’t rise to the surface. The Gators bothered Joe Burrow a year ago because they made him uncomfortable. They forced him to beat them down the field and reduced his margin for error. They hit him often enough to make him doubt himself. They played with force and sent a message to LSU’s offensive line. The efforts of the front four rippled through the rest of the game and had a pronounced effect on everything which happened in The Swamp.

One year later, Florida will need everything it received from its pass rush in 2018 against LSU… only more.

Against Georgia in a few weeks, this pass rush will still need to be excellent for the Gators to have a chance of winning, but LSU’s passing game is so much better than Georgia’s, which means that this must be the best game of the season for Florida’s front four.

Key 2 – Ball control

See the Colts beat the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football? The Colts realized that the best defense against a great offense is to keep the ball away from the opposition. Frank Reich of the Colts loves to throw the ball (like a former Florida coached named Steve Spurrier), but he subdued his desire to score in big numbers and emphasized the need to remove Patrick Mahomes from the equation.

Florida has to be disciplined enough to not seek the big play on offense. The Gators have to control the ball for 37 or more minutes and give Joe Burrow as little time with the football as possible. This has the added benefit of giving Kyle Trask the knowledge that he doesn’t have to be a hero. Seek the checkdown or the simple play. Don’t force the ball down the field into traffic. Take what the defense provides.

If LSU doesn’t have the ball, it can’t score, but more than that, it will be harder for Burrow to gain a rhythm with his receivers. Florida has to squeeze the life out of the crowd and put this game to sleep with several extended drives.

Key 3 – The timely risk

Florida needs to play a game based on ball control and not taking too many chances, but part of ball control means going for it on fourth and one. Dan Mullen will have to walk a fine line in terms of knowing when to make a key play on offense and knowing when to force LSU to drive 85 or 90 yards.

Saturday‘s game kicks off at 6:30 PM CT (7:30 PM ET). Watch on the ESPN Network.

This Week’s SEC Football News and Analysis

GameFirst Looks3 Keys
HighlightsFinal Stats
South Carolina vs. GeorgiaUSC / UGAUSC / UGAPreviewUSC 20, UGA 17Stats
Arkansas vs. KentuckyArky / KentuckyArky / KentuckyPreviewUK 24, Arky 17Stats
Florida vs. LSUFlorida / LSULSU / FloridaPreviewLSU 42, Florida 28Stats
Ole Miss vs. MissouriOle Miss / MizzouOle Miss / MizzouPreviewMizzou 38, Ole Miss 27Stats
Mississippi State vs. TennesseeTennessee / MSUMSU / TennesseePreviewTennessee 20, MSU 10Stats
Alabama vs. Texas A&MBama / A&MA&M / BamaPreviewBama 47, A&M 28Stats
UNLV vs. VanderbiltUNLVVandyPreviewUNLV 34, Vandy 10Stats
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