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On Saturday morning at Tiger Stadium, a rivalry game will be played without much spotlight or fanfare. It’s Florida vs. LSU, which is usually one of the craziest games on the schedule for both teams, especially with how last year played out. I don’t think you’ve forgotten about the “Shoe Game,” where Marco Wilson picked up a penalty for launching an LSU player’s cleat and set the Tigers up for the game-winning field goal. I mean, how could you not remember that chaos.
Well this year, the approaching game could be remembered for something else entirely. After a loss to both Auburn and Kentucky, LSU’s Ed Orgeron is on the hot seat, which isn’t shocking to anyone who follows college football in the South. Last week, a lackluster game plan hurt the Tigers, and Kentucky ran the ball down their throats and won 42-21. This was an embarrassing performance by the Tigers’ defense, which gave up 330 yards rushing, and their offense, which oftentimes looked lost. Now, the Tigers must face No. 20 Florida at home, at 11am local time, without much enthusiasm in Baton Rouge at the moment.
On the bright side, this football game has been decided by one possession in 6 of the last 7 meetings, which holds up well for the Tigers.
It was only two years ago that LSU held up the National Championship trophy, and now Ed Orgeron is fighting for his job. Dan Mullen was asked about Orgeron at LSU and the folks clamoring for his job.
“I just think in today’s world, with coaching a lot of times, it’s a week to week, your rating as a coach is week to week,” Mullen said. “If not play by play on Saturdays, and then after Saturday, it’s week by week. That’s not him, that’s all of us. You know what I mean? You go to anybody in the SEC and they’ll tell you it’s pretty much you’re either really smart or really dumb, and there’s nowhere in between, and it’s a week to week deal.”
Unfortunately for Orgeron, Florida has the explosiveness on offense that could make it a long afternoon in Death Valley. The way Florida moves around Emory Jones, especially on designed runs, will cause the Tigers a massive headache. Jones has thrown for 1,144 yards and 9 TDs — and 7 interceptions. But this Gators football team shouldn’t need Emory to pass very often, if they have success running the football. The rushing attack sunk LSU last weekend, when the Tigers let Kentucky bully their front seven.
Dan Mullen also has the opportunity to play QB Anthony Richardson, who can throw the ball and make defenders miss in open space, when needed.
This game will come down to which team can establish the run game and win the downfield battles. If we see the same LSU team that returned from Lexington with a loss, then Florida will have a field day. Right now, it doesn’t feel like this LSU football team is playing with any kind of spirit, but maybe knowing they’re fighting for their coach’s job will bring some extra juice for the Tigers.
It’s hard to prepare for the Gators, as Dan Mullen mixes up the offensive schemes at times. But Mullen will have to be careful with his play calling because LSU will bait them into some unwarranted throws. One thing is for certain during this game: LSU players will be fighting for the job of Ed Orgeron, whether they like it or not. And yes, they definitely know it.
Let’s not forget how big this game is for the Gators, who are already out of contention for the SEC East. It’s a pretty obvious that the Florida fan base, which is still fuming from the Kentucky loss, won’t take kindly to a loss in Baton Rouge.
Whichever coach comes out of this game with a loss will certainly lose favor with his fan base. But in Ed Orgeron’s case, a loss could also mean he’s out of a job down the road.