Opponent overview: How can the Gators stop LSU RB Leonard Fournette?
It’s been hard to focus on LSU with all of the distractions swirling around the Gators this week.
But with the game just a few days away, let’s learn a little more about No. 6 LSU. We brought in the The Advocate’s Ross Dellenger, who covers the the Tigers’ football and baseball teams, to answer some questions. Make sure to follow Ross (@DellengerAdv) for info on LSU leading up to Saturday’s showdown with No. 8 Florida (7 p.m., ESPN).
1. How can the Gators stop RB Leonard Fournette? What is the best college or NFL comparison for Fournette?
Ross: Les Miles says the best way to stop Fournette is for teams to hold the ball offensively, keeping Fournette on the sideline. He might be right. South Carolina became the first team this season to hold him down for an extended amount of time. He averaged just 3.3 yards a carry in the first half. They loaded the box and stuffed the middle. That’s the key.
Most have compared him to Herschel Walker more than anything, but I’ve heard plenty: Emmitt Smith, Bo Jackson, Cecil Collins, etc.
2. Is LSU quarterback Brandon Harris capable of winning a game with his arm? What are his strengths and weaknesses?
Ross: Harris has the talent to win a game with his arm, but he hasn’t proven that he can do it. Coaches have eased the sophomore into the season, giving him more and more responsibility and pass attempts with each game. Rest assured, LSU and Miles don’t want Harris having to win games with his arm. If that’s the case, things aren’t great for the Tigers.
Harris’ strength is certainly physical. He’s fast, hums a beautiful tight spiral and is smart. As for weaknesses, Harris likes to go deep. He loves the long ball – even when it’s not open.
3. What are LSU coaches and players saying about Will Grier’s suspension and Treon Harris’ rise to the starter role?
Ross: Not much. It doesn’t really affect LSU defenders because coaches had not put in the Florida defensive game plan before Grier’s suspension was announced. Also, they had studied for Harris last season, when he was supposed to start but was suspended for an investigation into a sexual assault.
I do think many were stunned by the news, just like a lot of folks nationally. Miles was told just before his Monday press conference, and players found out while at interviews with reporters.
4. What is the outside view of the Gators? Internally, Gators fans are excited and optimistic about the 6-0 start. But does Florida have to do more to earn the complete attention of the rest of the SEC?
Ross: From speaking with LSU players, they already really respect Florida, specifically the Gators defense. Fournette, for instance, raved about the Gators’ talent and speed on defense. Florida has LSU’s attention. There’s no doubt about that.
As an AP voter, I have Florida ranked No. 9, well below many undefeated teams. The Gators have been a surprises, but I’m not completely sold. A win at LSU will certainly have them soaring, possibly, into the top 5.
5. How do you think Saturday’s game between Florida and LSU will go? Prediction?
Ross: I figured this would be a close tussle, a one-score game that came down to the final minute or, even, second. Without Grier, I’m rethinking that. I haven’t thought enough about the prediction to give you a score, but I do think LSU wins by at least a touchdown in a game that could still be late close. I really thought Florida had a shot to beat LSU with Grier. I just think those chances have dwindled considerably.