Florida Gators: Kenny Hilliard

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- Here's a breakdown of the first half of No. 10 Florida's home game against No. 4 LUS.

Stat of the half: The Gators and Tigers combined for 128 yards of total offense. LSU had 81 and Florida had 47. The Gators ran for only 16 yards.

Player of the half: Florida P Kyle Christy was the best offense the Gators had. He pinned the Tigers inside their 10-yard line three times to bail the Gators' non-productive offense out. He had kicks of 55, 61, 44 and 41 yards in the half.

What's working for Florida: After giving up 64 yards on LSU's opening drive, the Gators' defense held the Tigers to just 14 yards in the rest of the half. UF clamped down on RBs Spencer Ware, Kenny Hilliard and Michael Ford. They also were able to mount a decent pass rush and sacked QB Zach Mettenberger three times and intercepted him once. UF also kept the game within reach by forcing the Tigers to settle for a field goal after getting a first-and-goal at the UF 7 following a fumble.

What's not working for Florida: Until the Gators went to the hurry-up late in the first half, the offense was generating nearly nothing. The offensive line had protected QB Jeff Driskel well early in the game, but Driskel held onto the ball too long and got sacked. Then the Tigers started blitzing up the middle and the Gators couldn't pick it up and Driskel got sacked on back-to-back plays. RB Mike Gillislee uncharacteristically missed some holes, too. And when the Gators finally mounted a drive deep into LSU territory, WR Frankie Hammond fumbled and the Tigers recovered. Driskel's fumble before halftime cost the Gators three points.

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.

(Read full post)

Watching film of last year's LSU game must be traumatizing for Florida's defense.

All the Gators will notice is the constant pounding LSU's run game put on it. All those defenders were good for was getting pushed around and making each of LSU’s running backs look like a Heisman candidate.

That film is probably burning in a trash heap this very moment. And that's perfectly acceptable when you consider the Gators surrendered 238 rushing yards to the Tigers last season.

(Read full post)

Scouting report: LSU

October, 1, 2012
10/01/12
8:00
AM ET
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The bye week is over and Florida gets back in action against LSU on Saturday at Florida Field (3:30 p.m., CBS). Here’s a look at the Tigers:

LSU

Record: 5-0 (1-0 SEC).

Coach: Les Miles, eighth season (80-18); 12th season overall (108-39).

Series record: Florida leads 30-25-3.

(Read full post)

What to watch in the SEC: Week 2

September, 6, 2012
9/06/12
10:15
AM ET
With several key conference tilts on tap, we take a look at what to watch in the SEC in Week 2:

1. Hello Missouri, Hello Texas A&M: Even though Missouri has already played a game as an SEC member, Missouri and Texas A&M “officially” become league members Saturday when the Tigers take on Georgia and the Aggies face Florida. It’s fitting that the two newcomers would play traditional powers in their first league games, and it’s also fitting that both would open SEC play at home. The eyes of the league will turn to College Station, Texas, at 3:30 p.m. ET and then to Columbia, Mo., at 7:45 p.m. ET. It is indeed a new day in the SEC.

2. Missouri’s inexperience up front: Blocking Georgia’s defensive front with a veteran offensive line is no easy task, but the Tigers will try to do it a bit short-handed. Senior right guard Jack Meiners is questionable for the game with a knee injury. His size and strength inside would be invaluable against the Bulldogs. Former walk-on Max Copeland is scheduled to start in Meiners’ place. And at left guard, true freshman Evan Boehm is the starter. Senior Travis Ruth was slated to be the starter at left guard, but tore his left triceps tendon in August and underwent surgery.

3. More touches for Gurley: In his debut last week, Georgia freshman running back Todd Gurley carried the ball eight times for 100 yards and had touchdown runs of 55 and 10 yards. He also had a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Coach Mark Richt said he would “definitely” like to see Gurley touch the ball more Saturday against Missouri than he did last week. But the Bulldogs aren’t going to forget about fellow freshman Keith Marshall and sophomore Ken Malcome. Richt said Gurley probably would have carried it a few more times last week but that he got a little light-headed after his 100-yard kickoff return.

4. Driskel takes the reins: It’s Jeff Driskel's job, and Florida coach Will Muschamp has told him that there’s no need to be looking over his shoulder Saturday. It was important that the Gators settle on a starting quarterback prior to going to Texas A&M, and that’s exactly what Muschamp did coming out of Florida’s ho-hum 27-14 season-opening victory over Bowling Green. Driskel is a better runner than Jacoby Brissett and has a better chance of extending the play when things break down. More than anything, though, it’s going to be imperative that the Gators play well around Driskel. The running game looks to be in good hands with Mike Gillislee, but the Gators are going to need more big plays like the one Frankie Hammond turned in against Bowling Green. He took a quick out, shook a tackle and turned it into a 50-yard touchdown. It’s been a while since the Florida receivers have made those kind of plays consistently.

[+] EnlargeJeff Driskel
AP Photo/Phil SandlinJeff Driskel earned the nod as Florida's starting quarterback heading into the SEC opener at Texas A&M; can his receivers step up?
5. More first-timers: In Week 1, Tennessee’s Cordarrelle Patterson, Georgia’s Gurley, Alabama’s T.J. Yeldon and Ole Miss’ Bo Wallace stole the show among the newcomers in the league. There are sure to be a few more that break out this week. Keep an eye on Missouri freshman receiver Dorial Green-Beckham. The Tigers will look to get him more involved in the offense. And at Texas A&M, redshirt freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel makes his debut along with true freshman cornerback De'Vante Harris, who earned his way into the starting lineup soon after preseason camp began. Two other true freshmen worth watching at Texas A&M are both known for their big-play skills -- receiver Thomas Johnson and running back Trey Williams.

6. Ascending to No. 1: Alabama coach Nick Saban scolded the media this week for not giving Western Kentucky proper respect. That said, we’ll change the subject a little bit from the impending blowout this Saturday at Bryant-Denny Stadium. The Crimson Tide moved to No. 1 in both polls after routing then-No. 8 Michigan 41-14 in the season opener. Since the preseason Associated Press poll began in 1950, only two teams have ascended to No. 1 in the poll after Week 1 and stayed there the rest of the season. Nebraska did it in 1971 after Notre Dame was the preseason No. 1 selection, and USC did it in 1972 after Nebraska was tabbed preseason No. 1.

7. Connor Shaw’s status: There’s still no final word on whether South Carolina quarterback Connor Shaw will play Saturday against East Carolina, but he gave a thumbs-up to reporters as he left the practice field Wednesday. Coach Steve Spurrier said it could be a game-time decision. Spurrier said the key was Shaw being able to throw effectively Wednesday and Thursday in practice without considerable pain. Shaw’s teammates said he looked like his old self Wednesday in practice. Shaw is dealing with a bruised right (throwing) shoulder after taking a knee to the shoulder area last Thursday against Vanderbilt. Wednesday was the first time he’d done anything in practice since the season-opening victory over the Commodores. Sophomore Dylan Thompson is Shaw’s backup.

8. Breaking through in the SEC opener: Dropping the SEC opener hasn’t just been a problem for Mississippi State since Dan Mullen has been on the job. The Bulldogs haven’t won their SEC opener since 1999, when they beat South Carolina 17-0. They started 8-0 that season. Under Mullen, they’ve lost their past three SEC openers to Auburn, including the past two by a combined 10 points. The Bulldogs get a chance to end that drought Saturday when Auburn visits Scott Field. It’s also a chance for Mullen to break through in the West. His only three wins over Western Division foes since taking the job in 2009 have been over Ole Miss. He’s 0-12 against everybody else in the West.

9. LSU’s running back carousel: As problems go in this league, it’s a great one to have. LSU may have too many good running backs ... if that’s possible. Kenny Hilliard and Alfred Blue each rushed for more than 100 yards in LSU’s opener. Hilliard had 141, and Blue, who started the game, had 123. A year ago, it was Michael Ford and Spencer Ware carrying most of the load for the Tigers in the running game, although Hilliard’s role grew later in the season. Ford led the team with 756 yards in 2011, and Ware had 707 yards. Ford had eight carries for 50 yards in the opener. His eligibility had been in question until he won an appeal the week before the game. Ware didn’t play in the opener after he was slowed by a thigh injury. Can you play four running backs and keep them all happy? Something says the Tigers are going to find out. Either way, it’s a sweet luxury to have.

10. Hamilton does Little Rock: Arkansas senior receiver Cobi Hamilton left the Hogs’ opener last week in the first quarter after catching two passes for 13 yards. Arkansas didn’t specify his injury other than to say it was above his shoulders. Coach John L. Smith said Hamilton should be fine for this week, which goes without saying. The game is in Little Rock, and Hamilton has been at his best in War Memorial Stadium. He’s played in six games there for the Hogs and has 22 catches for 644 yards and seven touchdowns. Three of his five 100-yard receiving games have come in Little Rock. In other words, if you have Hamilton on your fantasy team, you might want to be sure he’s in your lineup this week.

SEC power rankings: Week 2

September, 4, 2012
9/04/12
9:00
AM ET
The first weekend of the college football season brought some changes to our power rankings. As we enter Week 2, some teams are trending down, while others are on the up. And some look pretty much like we thought they'd look in their first games.

It's still early, but this weekend could help to better shape the conference race, especially in the SEC East where Florida travels to Texas A&M and Georgia heads to Missouri. Also, keep an eye on Mississippi State's home game with Auburn.

OK, time for the rankings:

1. Alabama (1-0): The Crimson Tide made quite the statement by absolutely dominating No. 8 Michigan inside Cowboys Stadium. The defense, which lost a host of top talent from last year's national championship team, took Denard Robinson out of the game from the start. The offense should be fun to watch this fall with freshman T.J. Yeldon and Eddie Lacy carrying the ball and AJ McCarron throwing to those young, explosive receivers.

(Read full post)

SPONSORED HEADLINES

ESPN 300 Ranking Motivates Byron Cowart
After a recent rise into the top 10 overall, defensive end Byron Cowart of Armwood (Seffner, Fla.) joins ESPN's Matt Schick to discuss recruiting and the new ESPN 300.Tags: Byron Cowart, Armwood, ESPN 300, RecruitingNation, high school football recruiting, Matt Schick
VIDEO PLAYLIST video