GameDay: No. 6 LSU vs. Florida, 2:30 p.m.
BATON ROUGE — LSU’s sixth-ranked football team will put its 5-0 record on the line on Saturday when the Tigers host Florida in a battle of Southeastern Conference powerhouses in Tiger Stadium.
The Tigers enter the contest fresh as the Tigers had an open date last Saturday, while Florida has lost two of its last three, including a 20-17 last-minute defeat to Ole Miss one week ago at the Swamp in Gainesville. In its last action on Sept. 27, LSU posted a 41-6 win over Mississippi State in Starkville.
The Tigers are 5-0 overall for the first time since the 1973 LSU squad won its first nine games. LSU is also 2-0 in league play and the Tigers are the highest- rated SEC team.
Last year, LSU posted a 36-7 win over Florida in Gainesville and the Tigers enters this year’s contest looking for back-to-back wins over the Gators for the first time since 1986-87.
Despite its 3-3 record, Saban has spent the week making sure his squad knows that Florida is still a very good and very dangerous team.
“There are certain teams in every league and certain teams in the country that have great tradition, and are elite teams in your league regardless of what their record is or where they are right now,” Saban said. “When you play against those teams and have success against those teams that is the only way to get to their peer level. Florida certainly has that in our league, and they are a school tradition-wise to have the most success over the last 12 to 15 years.”
Against the Gators, the Tigers will face a team that starts a true freshman at quarterback in Chris Leak to go along with two of the SEC’s top running backs in Ran Carthon and DeShawn Wynn. Florida also has perhaps the best tight end in the SEC in Ben Troupe.
“Troupe is an outstanding player,” Saban said. “People have trouble tackling him after he catches the ball and he has really good hands. Florida really does a good job of getting the ball to him.”
Through six games, Troupe has caught 21 passes for 299 yards and two TDs. Leak, who will be making his third straight start at quarterback, has completed 68 of 111 passes for 861 yards and six touchdowns. Leak has thrown seven interceptions, three of those came in the fourth quarter of last week’s loss to Ole Miss.
Leak and the Gators will go against one of the nation’s top defensive teams as the Tigers lead the SEC and rank fourth in the nation in total defense (256.0 yards per game). LSU is allowing an SEC-best 8.6 points a game and the Tigers have allowed only three first half points all season.
The Tigers may be without the services of two players on Saturday as running back Shyrone Carey and strong safety Jack Hunt are both questionable for the game. If Carey can’t go, the Tigers will look to Joseph Addai and Justin Vincent to carry the load at running back. Addai, who has started all five games, ranks second in the squad with 286 yards and two TDs on 66 carries. Vincent, a freshman, has rushed for 122 yards and two TDs on 26 carries.
Carey leads LSU with 307 yards rushing and 6 touchdowns
“Joseph had probably his best week (of practice) in a long time,” Saban said. “Justin is doing fine and he’s played well when he’s had the opportunity. We feel really good about both of those guys carrying the football.”
The key to the Tiger offense will continue to revolve around the play of Matt Mauck, who leads the SEC and ranks 10th nationally in pass efficiency with a 150.9 rating. In five games, Mauck has completed 72 of 119 passes for 959 yards and 10 TDs. Mauck, who is 10-1 as LSU’s starting quarterback, has thrown at least one TD pass in nine straight games.
Mauck’s favorite target continues to be that of Michael Clayton, who leads the Tigers with 477 yards and 4 TDs on 28 catches. Devery Henderson is second on the squad with 302 yards and 4 TDs on 22 catches.