NEW LOOK OFFENSE
Last season, the LSU defense feasted on a Florida offense that was without a solid quarterback and struggled all season to find an identity.
That will not be the case in 2012.
“They had a bunch of young guys last year,” said linebacker Luke Muncie. “But now they’ve played and they’ve been around. They know how to compete and battle and they’re ready to go to war.”
Along with experience, the Gators have found their man under center in quarterback Jeff Driskel.
The sophomore from Oviedo, Fla., is completing nearly 70 percent of his passes and has thrown for 698 yards and four touchdowns. He’s also scrambled for 148 yards and a score.
LSU is aware of the threat Driskel poses, but is still confident in their own abilities.
“He’s a great quarterback. He moves in the pocket, he’s mobile and he can throw the ball too. He reads the defense really well,” said cornerback Tharold Simon. “I think he’s going to be a tough quarterback to go against but I think we can take him.”
A big concern for the Tigers the last couple weeks has been the recurring theme of putting the ball on the ground.
LSU has lost five fumbles in the past two ball games, something that could be detrimental in the Swamp Saturday.
But ball protection has been a top priority for the coaches and players this week in practice.
“We’ve spent a lot [of time on ball protection,]” said wide receiver Jarvis Landry. “We all did the gauntlet that Coach Frank makes the running backs run through and Coach Miles stresses to win the turnover battle. Things like that we’re definitely stressing this week. And we haven’t had any balls on the ground so far this week.”
Landry also said some of the responsibility for the loose footballs has to be given in the form of credit to the Tigers’ opponents.
“Looking at the film, it’s been good hat placement,” Landry said. “A couple of those times there was just a good hit, we had hands on the ball. It could’ve been anyone that fumbled.”
The defense may be hitting the Tigers just right, but there is one sure-fire way to keep that from continuing to happen.
“Put two hands on the ball. Double wrap the ball is what we say,” Landry said. “Keep the ball covered on those pressure points.”
RECEIVERS STEPPING UP
The passing game, or lack there of at times, has been a concern for LSU heading into the meat of its schedule.
Dropped passes have been an Achilles heel for LSU this season and may be a contributing factor to what has appeared to be a vanilla playbook and, occasionally, a lack of confidence in the pocket from quarterback Zach Mettenberger.
The receiving corps is taking extra steps to make sure that trend doesn’t continue this weekend.
“Me an the guys have been staying after practice these last two days just getting extra reps with the quarterbacks, catching extra balls off the Juggs [machine], whatever we can do to get better,” Landry said.
The plan to stay after practice came from a position meeting the players held before practice on Monday.
“We had a discussion between the receivers that we needed to step it up and there was going to be a time when our play making ability was going to be needed,” Landry said. “I think by stressing that and telling them I’m going to stay after and catch balls and do things like that, we just decided to spend more time in here.”