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Florida Gators face another tough test against No. 1 LSU

GAINESVILLE — It is certainly not the way Florida coach Will Muschamp would have scripted the story, given a choice, but in football you don't always have control over what happens.

How you handle the adversity is something else.

Which is where the Florida Gators are this week as they prepare to play No. 1 LSU Saturday afternoon in Baton Rouge.

The No. 17 Gators have been dealt a bad hand. They are coming off a 28-point loss to Alabama. They are without starting quarterback John Brantley, who injured an ankle late in the second quarter last week and will not play this week. They are down to two freshmen and a redshirt sophomore at quarterback — two of whom have never taken a snap in a college game.

Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis said Jeff Driskel has a slight edge because he has taken some snaps this season, but Jacoby Brissett and Tyler Murphy will also get a chance to earn the start.

"We have our work cut out for us, but I think it's a great opportunity for our football team," Muschamp said. "I told the team, football is a tough deal. If you don't play as well as you would have liked to have played, you have to wait a week to play. It's not like basketball where you go out and play the next night. You have to get that taste out of your mouth and there's no better opportunity than going to Baton Rouge to play LSU."

Opportunity — and tremendous challenge — for a team that faced adversity for the first time and didn't fare well. Leading into the Alabama game, Florida was among the SEC's best rushing teams led by seniors Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey. Against Alabama, the two combined for 8 of Florida's 15 yards. Now UF faces the nation's No. 3 rushing defense.

"We just have to come out and work harder," Demps said.

Part of that work lies with the Gators' offensive line, which was manhandled against Alabama.

"We obviously struggled a bit and need to get better," left tackle Chaz Green said. "Everybody is taking it upon themselves to get better."

LSU is on a 13-game winning streak at Tiger Stadium, and its most recent loss in Death Valley was 13-3 to then-No. 1 Florida in 2009. The Tigers also have won seven straight SEC games at home. But LSU coach Les Miles said Brantley's loss doesn't mean the loss of Florida's offense.

"Their offense is dangerous," Miles said. "I don't put too much stock in their game against a strong and talented Alabama team. I recognize that there are players at every position that are talented and well coached. It is going to be a great matchup in Tiger Stadium."

That might be just coachspeak for Miles, but it's a sincere sentiment from the Gators, who insist they still have hope.

"I don't have any doubt at all, I've got the most confidence in this team," Green said. "We've had one bump in the road. We've still got all of our goals to get to Atlanta (for the SEC title game) — they are still out there, it's still possible. I have the utmost confidence in our team."

"That's motivation for us this week to get better, then go out to Louisiana and take care of business," guard Jon Halapio said.

Last year the Gators' loss to Alabama started a three-game skid and the players have since acknowledged that confidence and team chemistry waned.

Muschamp doesn't envision that happening this season.

"I expect us to respond very well," he said. "We have a bunch of prideful guys. Obviously, we didn't play as well as we would have liked the other night, but … we will respond well."

No. 17 Florida

at No. 1 LSU

3:30 p.m. Saturday, Tiger Stadium, Baton Rouge, La.

TV: Ch. 10

Florida Gators face another tough test against No. 1 LSU 10/04/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, October 4, 2011 10:22pm]
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