Before we get to the keys for the LSU-Florida game, let’s knock out of the way what’s universal for both teams.

Handle the crisis.

It’s become an almost annual thing in SEC country to have a game that is impacted by a major weather event. Last year, South Carolina moved its home game against LSU to Baton Rouge because of epic floods. The area around LSU had similar floods but during August camp.

If LSU had to play a game during the Louisiana flood, that game likely would have been moved because the flood waters severely compromised Baton Rouge’s infrastructure and hotels were filled to capacity with flood victims.

Now, we’re back to a similar crisis.

But if we manage to keep things focused on football, these are the keys:


1. Dominate UF’s defensive line: Ed Orgeron’s new offensive approach may look to spread opponents out, but the goal is still the same: to run the ball first.

With Florida’s defensive front battling injuries, it’s important for LSU (even with its own injuries) to be able to open holes for Derrius Guice, Darrel Williams and whoever else runs the ball. Florida’s talented secondary may be too good for a modest Tigers passing attack to throw against if UF is facing predictable down-and-distance situations.

If the Tigers are behind the chains or are not making the Gators properly respect the run, it could be a long day. But if Florida has to sell out to the run, then it might be able to achieve some balance in the air.

2. Get after the quarterback: Austin Appleby may have some issues with confidence after a tough week last week in a 13-6 win over Vanderbilt. Luke Del Rio is coming off an injury. Either way, LSU needs to get after a fragile quarterback situation.

With SEC sacks leader Arden Key leading the charge, on paper LSU should be able to get to the quarterback, whichever one it may be. If it’s Appleby, a few hits may frazzle him, especially with him looking over his shoulder at Del Rio. And with Del Rio, the recent injury might make him reluctant to take hits.

3. Play better on special teams: LSU has had PATs blocked, a couple of field goals missed, it doesn’t get much out of kickoff returns and its punting game has been mediocre (although freshman Josh Growden is improving).

In what looks on paper to be a low-scoring defensive battle, the Tigers are going to need to win field position battles. And the best way to do that is through winning punt exchanges. That’s a tall order, considering UF punter Johnny Townsend has been the SEC’s best punter this year and the Gators lead the SEC in net punting.

This would be a good week for a long return from dynamic LSU punt returner Tre’Davious White. It would also be a good week for Colby Delahoussaye to gain his confidence on place kicks.


1. Establish a running game: In LSU’s 42-7 win over Missouri last week, the Tigers held Mizzou to 77 rushing yards, which allowed LSU to get after quarterback Drew Lock.

Florida has not been a great rushing team, coming into the game averaging 160.8 yards per game, just 10th in the SEC and very similar statistically to Missouri. And in the last couple of games against competitive SEC defenses (Tennessee and Vanderbilt), the Gators are averaging just three yards a carry.

LSU, meanwhile, is third in the SEC in run defense.

If the Gators can’t get something going on the ground, it’ll put a great burden on either a quarterback coming off injury (Del Rio) or one struggling with confidence (Appleby).

2. Turn the Tigers over: Florida leads the SEC with a plus-5 turnover ratio (10 gained, 5 lost). And that’s a statistic that could be huge against LSU.

On paper, it would appear the Gators should win field position exchanges on punts (see LSU keys above), so if UF is also able to gain some short fields via turnovers, it could keep momentum on its side for large parts of the game.

So look for ball hawks like SEC interceptions leader Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson to try to make an impact on this game by forcing LSU mistakes.

3. Leave the laundry off the ground: In a game that promises to be about field position, one area where Florida has been weak in is penalties.

The Gators are the SEC’s most penalized team, averaging 74 yards of penalties a game while its opponents have only been flagged for 41 yards a game. That’s 33 yards — three full first downs, plus some — Florida is leaving on the field.

LSU gets penalized for 47 yards a game, 28 yards per game better than Florida. If the punting games play to their averages and the penalty yards play to their averages, UF’s advantage in net punting would be more than offset by the yards lost in penalties.