UF wary of LSU’s balance

Florida defensive lineman Darious Cummings (55) intercepts a Tennessee pass during the first half last month. The Gators will need the defensive line to step up against LSU’s running game.

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, October 11, 2013 at 2:55 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 11, 2013 at 2:55 p.m.

As well as LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger has played this season, the top priority for Florida’s defense in Saturday’s game against the Tigers will be stopping their talented tailbacks.

If the Gators can make LSU lose its offensive balance, their defensive backs have the cover skills to slow down Mettenberger, who leads the SEC in passing with 1,738 yards.

UF accomplished that last week against Arkansas. The ’Hogs had success in the first quarter rushing the ball, but Florida made adjustments and eventually took away the run.

Gators defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin said LSU, like Arkansas, will look to establish the ground game early with Jeremy Hill, Alfred Blue, Kenny Hilliard and Terrence Magee.

“There are some similarities in their offenses. They both want to line up and move the ball in the run game. They can power you pretty good. LSU has a stable of running backs they can do that with,” Durkin said Thursday night on Gator Hotline.

This game could be the one where the loss of defensive tackle Dominique Easley is evident due to LSU’s ability to pound it up the middle. Even without Easley’s disruptive presence inside, Durkin still plans to use a 3-4 scheme as well as other alignments in the front seven.

“We mix up our coverages on defense, we also mix up our fronts,” Durkin said. “We play some of both and we’ll continue to do that. That’s part of what keeps offenses on their heels. Losing Dominique doesn’t change how we’re playing as far as 3-4 or 4-3. We’ve got guys that can do a good job filling in for him.”

As a collective unit, Durkin believes the other defensive tackles can keep the Tigers one dimensional and make it easier for the UF secondary to defend the pass.

“I think you’re seeing Darious Cumming playing really well,” Durkin said. “He’s had a couple of good games back-to-back. Leon Orr is playing well for us inside. Jonathan Bullard is a guy who has been playing both end and tackle, and he’s doing a great job. Damien Jacobs is another. So there’s a lot of guys that are taking up that role.”

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