Guice, Lawrence Return for Football at Florida
LSU Sports Interactive
OCALA, Florida – Two LSU standouts on both sides of the ball – running back Derrius Guice and defensive end Rashard Lawrence - are expected to return to the field on Saturday giving the Tigers a boost when they travel to face 20th-ranked Florida in “The Swamp” in Gainesville.
Kickoff between the Tigers (3-2, 0-1 SEC) and Gators (3-1, 3-0 SEC) is set for 2:30 p.m. CT and will be televised on CBS Sports with Brad Nessler, Gary Danielson and Allie LaForce on the call.
The LSU Sports Radio Network, featuring the Voice of the Tiger Chris Blair, Doug Moreau and Gordy Rush, will have the radio broadcast of the game. The game can be heard in the Baton Rouge area on Eagle 98.1 FM or for free on the internet at www.LSUsports.net/live.
LSU is coming off a 24-21 loss to Troy last week in Tiger Stadium, while the Gators have won three straight games, which includes a 38-24 victory over Vanderbilt a week ago.
Saturday will be LSU’s first trip to Gainesville since the 2014 season when Colby Delahoussaye kicked a 50-yard field goal with three seconds left to lift the Tigers to a 30-27 win over the Gators. Only three LSU players that traveled to Florida for Saturday’s game saw action when the Tigers beat the Gators in The Swamp in 2014.
LSU won in Tiger Stadium in 2015, before dropping a 16-10 decision to the Gators in Baton Rouge last year in a game that was moved from Gainesville to the LSU campus due to a hurricane.
As a result of last year’s game being moved from Gainesville to Baton Rouge, LSU will play at Florida in both 2017 and 2018.
LSU goes into the Florida game coming off a good week of practice and one that saw the Tigers do some soul-searching following the Homecoming loss to Troy last Saturday. The Troy defeat snapped LSU’s 49-game winning streak against non-conference opponents in Tiger Stadium.
“Our guys practiced hard, and they’re in good spirits,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said following Thursday’s workout. “We’re ready to take on a big challenge on the road. I do feel that we have practiced better this week. It wasn’t perfect, but there was some leadership that came through this week. There was a lot swirling around those guys and they did a great job of blocking out the noise as best as they can. They came to work focused. It was a good week.”
Guice, along with Darrel Williams, pace LSU’s rushing attack with five touchdowns apiece. Guice, who has missed the second half against Syracuse and didn’t play against Troy, has rushed for 314 yards in four games, while Williams leads the team with 320 yards and 5.2 yards per carry.
Senior quarterback Danny Etling has started all five games for the Tigers and has completed 62-of-102 passes for 921 yards, five touchdowns and only one interception. Backup Myles Brennan has seen spot duty in four games and has completed 10-of-18 passes for 160 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions.
“Danny is our starting quarterback,” Orgeron. “All he does is come to work and stay focused. After the two games we lost last year, he took us on the road and got us two good victories. I think he’s ready to do it again. I think he’ll play well, and we believe in him. Danny blocks out the noise very well. He’s a very smart young man, very mature. All he does is come to work. He has a blue-collar attitude about himself.”
Etling’s top target has been that of senior DJ Chark, who leads the Tigers with 16 receptions for 338 yards. Russell Gage is second on the team with 10 catches for 140 yards and a TD, while tight end Foster Moreau has nine receptions for 87 yards and two scores.
Offensively, the Tigers are averaging 27.0 points and 409.0 total yards (192.8 rushing, 216.2 passing) per game.
Defensively, the return of Lawrence means LSU’s top defensive lineman is back on the field and with that comes perhaps the teams’ best leader on that side of the ball. Lawrence has played in just two games, but has nine tackles, 2.5 tackles for loss and 1.5 sacks to his credit.
Sophomore linebacker Devin White leads the SEC in tackles with 49 in five games. He’s also added 4.5 tackles for loss, a half sack and he’s recovered a fumble.
As a unit, LSU’s defensive is allowing 19.4 points and 310.2 total yards per game (126.0 rushing, 184.2 passing).
Against Florida, the Tigers will face a Gator team that is giving up 26.0 points and 381.2 total yards per game (141.0 rushing, 240.2 passing). Florida also leads the league in opponent third-down conversion percentage, limiting the opposition to just 28.1 percent (16-of-57).
Offensively, the Gators rely on a trio of running backs led by freshman Malik Davis, who has rushed for 319 yards, two TDs and is averaging 7.4 yards a carry.
Quarterback Feleipe Franks will start his fourth career game on Saturday. He’s thrown for 557 yards, three touchdowns and is completing 63.5 percent of his passes (40-of-63).
Oregon said that in order for the Tigers to have success against Florida, they are going to have to protect the quarterback and have success on third downs. Defensively, LSU is going to have pressure the quarterback and do a good job in coverage.