UF at LSU: Keys to victory


Florida head coach Will Muschamps and assistant coach D.J. Durkin during the first half against LSU at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, La., on Oct. 8, 2011. Credit: Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Friday, October 11, 2013 at 1:15 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 11, 2013 at 1:15 p.m.

Florida and LSU have a track record of winning in each other's stadium. Since 2000, both teams are 3-3 at home and on the road in this series.

For LSU to get a win it badly needs, here are the five things the Tigers need to do:

The Tigers

1. Hit some passes early.

LSU's offense is on a roll mainly because Zach Mettenberger is firing on all cylinders. But what makes the passing game effective is that you have to game plan for the many backs LSU can throw at you. If the Tigers have success through the air early in the game, it should force Florida's defenders to soften up against the run.

2. Keep making third downs.

No team in the SEC has had more success on third down than LSU (58.3 percent). And no defense has done a better job of getting off the field on third down than Florida's (23 percent allowed). With Florida's limited offense, reducing the number of possessions will work in LSU's favor.

3. Keep the crowd in it.

Death Valley is really loud at night and really loud when LSU is rolling. But it's like a lot of stadiums in that it's not as noisy for a day game and quiets down if the opponent is making plays. The Tigers will need their fans at full throat for this one.

4. Get Solo tackles.

Solomon Patton (nicknamed Solo) has become a bonafide playmaker for the Gators. He's found a way -- despite his slight frame -- to break free of defenders and turn medium passes into long touchdowns. LSU's young defense needs to limit the yards after a catch for Patton.

5. Stuff the run.

Use the Arkansas blueprint if you have to, but if you can take away the Gator running game it would be a game-changer. Florida is going to try to run the ball whether it's gaining yards or not.

The Gators

Florida didn't put up much of a fight when the Gators last traveled to Baton Rouge, but this is a different roster with a more experienced coach. The five things Florida needs to do to win:

1. Take away the running game.

LSU has more big tailbacks than most NFL teams, but so far the Tigers are only ninth in the SEC in rushing offense. Part of that is because of the success of the passing game, but the Tigers have struggled to open holes on a consistent basis. Florida leads the league in stuffing the run.

2. Get touchdowns in the red zone.

LSU has allowed more field goals than any other team in the SEC (10) so that would indicate a defense that bends but doesn't break. The Gators have gotten better in the red zone since the Miami debacle and touchdowns will be vital.

3. Stop with the stupid penalties.

Late hits, personal fouls. Florida had eight second-half penalties against Arkansas and is next to last in the conference in penalties. The Gators have allowed 10 first downs on penalties out of 63 they have given up. That's too many.

4. Be sharp on special teams.

Let's start by making the kicks, field goals and extra points. Odell Beckham leads the SEC in kickoff returns. LSU has allowed the least amount of punt return yards in the conference. There are a lot of reasons to give the Tigers the pre-game edge on special teams and only one thing Florida can do about it -- be better. Oh, and watch for fake kicks.

5. Pressure Mettenberger.

It's not just the sacks that matter, but making the quarterback uncomfortable in the pocket. If he has time, it's not going to matter how good your defensive backs are. He has to feel the heat if Florida is going to slow down the LSU passing attack.

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