How good have the Florida Gators been on defense in 2013? Through five games, they rank as one of the very best units in the country and are arguably the best defense in the SEC. They’re allowing just 217 yards per game to opponents, second best in college football, and 12.2 points per game which ties them with the Alabama Crimson Tide for the fourth-lowest total in the country. But this Saturday, the Gators’ D will be tested in a major way against the LSU Tigers. Are they up to that challenge?
Looking at just the raw numbers, you would say absolutely without a doubt. Florida has been dominant on defense, creating negative plays with alarming regularity. The team has recorded a takeaway in 16 straight games dating back to last season, including three against LSU last season in Gainesville. Freshman defensive back Vernon Hargreaves has shown an elite nose for the football with three interceptions already this season and star corner Louchiez Purifoy has a pick-six under his belt.
But when you delve a little deeper, you start to question just how impressive their defensive numbers have been. In their three conference wins, Florida has beaten up on the Tennessee Volunteers, Kentucky Wildcats and Arkansas Razorbacks who rank as the three worst offenses in the SEC in terms of total offense. Their only experience against an offense ranked higher than No. 65 came against the Miami Hurricanes in their only defeat, though the defense still performed well and held Miami to just 212 total yards on the day.
LSU is going to throw an offense at Florida that they haven’t seen yet this season. The Gators obviously have the talent and athleticism to shut down any team in the country but they’ve yet to really be pushed in a hostile environment by a talented team like they will be against the Tigers in Baton Rouge. Can the Florida D step up and maintain their elite defensive production or will the LSU offense solve the untested Gator defense?
Join Kris Hughes and Tyler Brett for even more analysis of the LSU/Florida matchup live on the Google + College Football Pregame Rant this Saturday at 8:30 am PST/11:30 EST live online! We’ll be picking two fans — one from each team — to tell us why their team will win and add to a lively discussion on what we see as each team’s keys to victory. Join us!