LSU's Patrick Peterson a major concern for Florida
Florida coach Urban Meyer routinely begins his scouting report of an opponent by watching its special teams. In Meyer's mind, you can tell a lot about how well a team is coached and gets prepared by how its special teams perform.
One look at LSU return man Patrick Peterson and Meyer knew the Gators would have their hands full this Saturday.
"No. 1. That's it. That's the No. 1 concern,'' Meyer Wednesday about Peterson and the Tigers' return game. "That is absolutely our No. 1 concern on our football team right now.''
LSU has the SEC's No. 2 return unit, and Peterson is the league's top punt returner. He has 12 returns for 283 yards (23.6) and also has two touchdowns. His longest return this season is 87 yards.
Florida, which has been stellar on punt returns, enters the game coming off last week's game in which Alabama's Julio Jones' 41-yard return set up a scoring drive for the Tide.
The 41 yarder was the longest in Meyer's UF career; the previous long was an 18-yarder in 2005 by Tennessee's Jonathan Hefney.
“Yeah, there’s a little concern,'' Meyer said about his special teams. "I think going into the week we either led or were way up on kickoff returns. In net punt, we were number one. We haven’t blocked a punt. We came close a few times this year. Kick return and kickoff coverage has been good. I thought our kickoff team did a great job against Alabama. I think we had three or four kickoffs and every one was right around the 20-yard line against a group that was very high on return average. The punt kind of fried me a little bit. That’s never happened and that can’t happen. The punt coach (Meyer) is in charge of that, but it’s got to get corrected. Whether its personnel changes, that’s something that might change immediately if we don’t see it fixed, like, now. That was bad.”
Prior to this season, UF hadn't given up more than 25 yards in total punt returns all year since 2006. This year, the Gators have given up 65 yards on four returns.