We got with Kennedi Landry, the sports editor of LSU’s student newspaper, The Daily Reveille, to ask a few questions about Saturday’s game. Here’s what she had to say about the Tigers and their chances of winning against Florida.
Q: Joe Burrow ran wild against Ole Miss. Do you see Ed Orgeron utilizing him in that way against UF’s defense?
A: I definitely think Orgeron and offensive coordinator Steve Ensminger will continue the designated quarterback runs. Orgeron has mentioned that he was apprehensive about doing it, but has been more open in recent weeks. Burrow is smart, with only one turnover on the season, and he knows what to do in the situation. LSU does only have two scholarship quarterback on the roster, and Burrow has been taking some hard hit these last few weeks, so I’m sure they’re going to want to.
Q: LSU players’ reactions to DBU debate?
A: LSU All-American cornerback Greedy Williams doesn’t talk to the media often, but he made sure to earlier this week. He said at media availability, “Stats don’t lie. We have the best DBs in the NFL.” I think that alone says a lot about how LSU feels about the debate. LSU lost Donte Jackson to the draft last spring, but the Tigers still have two capable corners opposite Williams in former five-star Kristian Fulton and four-star Kelvin Joseph. Grant Delpit at safety is by far LSU’s biggest weapon this season. He leads the team in interceptions, sacks and tackles for loss and is third in total tackles. After the defense shut down one of the SEC’s most potent passing attacks last week against Ole Miss, I think this LSU secondary will be out to prove they deserve DBU.
Q: Any resentment among the team having to play in Gainesville twice in two years?
A: I think a lot of fans and players alike have not forgotten the 2016 Hurricane Matthew fiasco and the result of playing in Gainesville for two years in a row. But I don’t think it’s as much about playing in Gainesville two years in a row as it is the pregame scuffle that took place in 2016. Orgeron is smart and he wants to avoid another big distraction like that. The team knows the Swamp is a hard place to play, but SEC road games are always tough and they expect no different here. Game aside, Greedy Williams points out the trash-talking that’s likely to happen both in warmups and during the game.
Q: Who’s going to be the difference-maker for the Tigers?
A: Weirdly enough, I think special teams will be the difference-maker for LSU. Special teams has by far been LSU’s most improved unit. Kicker Cole Tracy has obviously been the talk of the team since the Auburn win. He’s only missed two field goals this season and has not missed an extra point. His only misses have come on field goals of more than 50 yards, but he’s also made ones of 52 and 54 yards. Punter Zach Von Rosenberg’s ability to pin the other team inside the 10-yard line will go a long way in a close scoring game. This game has been determined by one score for the last two years and a short field will take LSU a long way.
Q: What weakness, if any, do you believe the Gators can exploit?
A: The pass rush is definitely LSU’s biggest weakness. After losing edge rusher K’Lavon Chaisson to an ACL injury in the season opener, Aranda has ruled by committee at the position with Andre Anthony, Michael Divinity and Ray Thornton. They have been serviceable, but nowhere near the production LSU needs. It says a lot about LSU’s pass rush when Delpit is your sack leader. Exploiting LSU’s pass rush also leads to open receivers as the quarterback holds the ball longer and that will be the key for the Gators.
Q: Who ya got?
A: I’m going to go 17-7 LSU. This matchup is also pretty low-scoring and I don’t expect that to change. Both teams have almost identical points allowed per game (LSU at 15, UF at 14) and points scored per game (LSU at 33, UF at 35), but I think Dave Aranda’s defense can shut down Franks handily and the offense will continue its upward trajectory. The Burrow-led offense has had more total yards each game and I don’t expect that to change this weekend.