Only three teams are giving up fewer points per game that the Florida Gators, but this defense led by Loucheiz Purifoy, Antonio Morrison, Dante Fowler and Ronald Powell among others is the defense that is the nastiest unit in all of college football despite the loss of Dominique Easley at tackle.
Florida is allowing only 12.2 points per game, have 11 sacks on the season, have had an interception in eight straight games and a takeaway in 16 straight games.
The Gators have the most athletic defensive line in the nation with sophomore Dante Fowler poised for an All-SEC season and a potential All-American season before he heads to the NFL. Powell and Jonathan Bullard complement each other and are a relentless force on the perimeter.
Zach Mettenberger has been sacked 11 times and the LSU offensive line has looked vulnerable in recent weeks, so this is by far the biggest challenge the Tiger’s line has seen to date. He is going to be sacked, knocked down, hit and pressured, but if Cam Cameron designs a game plan to get the ball out of his hands quickly then that will help to neutralize the Florida rush.
If this wasn’t enough of a challenge for LSU, then certainly the Gator’s secondary is as they have two potential first round corners in this upcoming NFL draft and the best of the group could be true freshman Vernon Hargreaves III who leads the team with three interceptions.
Hargreaves has stepped up for the injured Marcus Roberson who has missed the past three games with a strained PCL in his left knee, but the Palm Beach Post reports he is questionable to return vs. LSU. Adding him to the secondary will make the nickel defense a scary proposition for Mettenberger to throw into even if Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham, Jr are the best receiver duo in the country.
The real star of the secondary, however is Purifoy who had his first pick of the season last week vs. Arkansas in addition to a sack and a forcing a fumble. He will be all over the field for Florida on Saturday and it will be interesting to see if he shadows either Landry or Beckham the entire game.
LSU has not met any defense to contain their No. 9 scoring offense all season long as they are averaging 45.5 points per game, so this will be a classic matchup where something will have to give. It’s strength on strength when LSU has the ball and there will be no shortage of NFL talent on display in a matchup that will be LSU’s toughest to date.
If Mettenberger, Landry, Beckham and Jeremy Hill are able to exploit this defense, LSU run the table and compete for the SEC and BCS Championship.