Florida Gators: Alex Hurst

Game preview: Florida vs. LSU

October, 5, 2012
10/05/12
8:00
AM ET
No. 4 LSU (5-0, 1-0 SEC) at No. 10 Florida (4-0, 3-0 SEC)
Saturday, 3:30 p.m. ET
Florida Field, Gainesville, Fla.
CBS

Three storylines

1. Measuring stick: Has Florida narrowed the gap between where the program has been the past two seasons and the SEC’s elite teams? This game will give us the answer. LSU has one of the league’s top running games and one of the nation’s top defenses. UF’s offensive line has a lot to prove, too. For months we’ve heard that it is tougher and stronger, but if it gets handled the way it did last season we’ll know that nothing has changed.

[+] EnlargeJeff Driskel
Jim Brown/US PresswireJeff Driskel can expect a lot of heat from LSU's front line on Saturday.
2. Pressure on the QBs: Both teams have a young QB in his first season as a starter, and the best defense against an inexperienced QB is to bring a lot of pressure. LSU will try to do it with just its formidable front four, particularly DEs Barkevious Mingo and Sam Montgomery. UF is going to try to take advantage of LSU’s weak spot at left tackle (Chris Faulk is out for the year, and Alex Hurst and Josh Dworaczyk have struggled). LSU QB Zach Mettenberger has looked shaky and has committed five turnovers. Florida QB Jeff Driskel has been efficient and has steadily improved in his three starts.

3. Tricky: UF has gotten burned by a fake field goal and a fake punt against LSU in the past two seasons. LSU coach Les Miles hasn’t attempted a fake this season, but he earned the nickname "the Mad Hatter" for a reason. The first time the Tigers line up to punt, expect UF to be especially vigilant. Getting faked out three years in a row would be embarrassing.

Gators to watch

RB/FB Trey Burton: He had a big game against Tennessee but missed the Kentucky game with back spasms. Expect him to have a significant role in the offense against LSU if he’s completely healthy. He’ll play in the Wildcat and will be a factor in the passing game.

LB Jelani Jenkins: He will be playing his first game since he suffered a fractured right thumb Sept. 8 against Texas A&M. He’s going to play in a cast. Jenkins might not play as many snaps because of his conditioning, but UF coach Will Muschamp said the linebacker will have no limitations on when he will play.

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GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- To get the most in-depth information on No. 4 LSU, which plays at No. 10 Florida on Saturday at 3:30 p.m., GatorNation turned to GeauxTigerNation's Gary Laney. We asked him five questions about the Tigers:

Q: Wasn't Zach Mettenberger supposed to be a significant upgrade from Jarrett Lee/Jordan Jefferson? Why has he not been better?

[+] EnlargeZach Mettenberger
AP Photo/Bill HaberLSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger is 78-of-119 passing (65.5 percent) for 1,016 yards, six touchdowns and two interceptions. He's also taken 11 sacks in five starts.
Laney: There's plenty of blame to go around and Mettenberger gets his share.

He's lost three fumbles in LSU's last two games and has five turnovers, all either killing drives or setting up the opponent for points. He's taken more sacks than he should by holding the ball too long or scrambling when he shouldn't.

He hasn't gotten help from an injury-riddled offensive line (11 sacks, the same number LSU's vaunted pass rush has produced) and the receivers have been prone to drops, bad patterns or blown assignments. It's added up to mediocre numbers, at best.

Q: Why has the offensive line struggled so much in pass protection?

Laney: The loss of Chris Faulk at left tackle has been huge. I'm not convinced that switching starting right tackle Alex Hurst to left tackle is the right answer for a position that requires the lateral movement Hurst does not seem to possess. LSU is hesitant to try sophomore left guard La'el Collins, formerly rated as one of the nation's top two prep tackles coming out high school, there because he has his hands full already trying to learn left guard. And Josh Dworaczyk, the former starter at left guard before he missed 2011 with a knee injury, might simply not be the dominant guy you need to block the other team's best pass rusher.

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Five storylines: Florida vs. LSU

October, 4, 2012
10/04/12
8:00
AM ET
Jonotthan HarrisonMark LoMoglio/Icon SMIMake no mistake, LSU's vaunted defensive front helped the Tigers to a preseason ranking of No. 1, so center Jonotthan Harrison and the UF O-line face an unprecedented test Saturday.
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- No. 10 Florida plays host to No. 4 LSU on Saturday in what coaches and players are calling a statement game. If the Gators (4-0, 3-0 SEC) beat the Tigers (5-0, 1-0) it will prove Florida has narrowed the gap between where the program was in the past two seasons and the league’s elite teams.

Here are five storylines for the game:

1. Be physical up front: This is the game in which we find out whether UF’s offensive line is indeed tougher and stronger than it was last season. LSU’s defensive line is one of the best in the nation -- with three potential first-round NFL draft picks -- and some are saying it’s the best in school history. The Gators have to get some push up front and create room for RB Mike Gillislee, which means LT Xavier Nixon/D.J. Humphries, LG James Wilson, C Jonotthan Harrison, RG Jon Halapio and RT Chaz Green can’t get handled the way the line did in last season’s meeting. UF doesn’t have to rush for 200 yards, but the Gators can’t become one-dimensional and put the game on a young QB’s shoulders.

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HOOVER, Ala. -- The 2012 SEC media days All-SEC team was announced Thursday, and LSU led the conference with the most first-team selections with seven. The media has voted for a preseason All-SEC team and predicted the order in which each team would finish since 1992.

It should be noted that the media has only picked the correct SEC champion four times since 1992. Those correct picks were Florida in 1994 and 1995, LSU in 2007 and Florida in 2008.

Here are some notes from the league on the All-SEC team:
    [+] EnlargeMarcus Lattimore
    Daniel Shirey/US PresswireSEC members are expecting big things this season for South Carolina's Marcus Lattimore.

  • The 222 voters is an all-time high for SEC media days. The previous high was 177 voters in 2010.
  • South Carolina running back Marcus Lattimore was the leading vote-getter this season with 201 of 222 votes. He is the fourth running back in the past six years to be the highest vote-getter (2007 – Darren McFadden, Arkansas; 2008 – Knowshon Moreno, Georgia and Percy Harvin, Florida; 2009 – Tim Tebow and Brandon Spikes, Florida; 2010 – Mark Ingram, Alabama; 2011 – Alshon Jeffery, South Carolina).
  • Lattimore (2012) and Jeffery (2011) have been the leading vote-getters the last two seasons.
  • Alabama offensive lineman Barrett Jones is a three-time member of the SEC media days first team
  • South Carolina has had a sophomore make the media days first team for the third straight season – Jadeveon Clowney, South Carolina, DE (2012); Marcus Lattimore, South Carolina, RB (2011); Stephon Gilmore, South Carolina, DB (2010).

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The SEC has a nation-leading 19 players on the 2012 preseason watch list for the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, which is awarded annually to the nation's best defensive player. Alabama leads the SEC with five players on the list, while LSU is second with four.

Here are all 19 SEC players on the Nagurski Trophy list:

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SEC SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 12/20
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Thursday, 1/1
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