Monday, January 22, 2018
Colleges

Florida Gators say they're better than 2011 team LSU routed

GAINESVILLE — LSU enters Saturday's game at Florida with an 18-game regular-season winning streak, longest in Division I-A. That includes six wins this season and last season's 41-11 rout of the Gators.

Florida coach Will Muschamp and his players believe they are much more equipped to handle LSU this season.

"I feel we're 10 times better, at least,'' sophomore FB Hunter Joyer said. "We're a better team, together and as individuals."

The offensive line has more depth than the unit that was dominated by the Tigers, Muschamp said.

"We weren't physical enough on the line of scrimmage to compete and play in (the SEC),'' he said. "Our depth was part of that issue. I think we had nine or 10 scholarship offensive linemen for camp. We had to be careful because if you get another couple of guys injured, now you're down to seven. So some of the things I wanted to do and felt like we needed to do, we couldn't.''

LSU injuries: Four Tigers projected as starters during camp are out or hobbled. And that doesn't include CB/PR Tyrann Mathieu, last season's Heisman Trophy finalist who was dismissed from the team before the season for drug offenses.

LB Tahj Jones has not played because of academic problems. LT Chris Faulk, arguably the top pro prospect on the offensive line, is out for the season with a knee injury sustained last month. Top RB Alfred Blue is out indefinitely with a knee injury sustained last month. And FB J.C. Copeland injured a knee last week. He has a chance to play against the Gators, but his status was uncertain.

"It is a challenge. There's no doubt about it," said Josh Dworaczyk, who has started for Faulk at left tackle but could move to right tackle Saturday.

"For a team to have the depth chart challenged the way that we're at at this point in our season is certainly something that we have to hit head-on."

UM: Tough task

CORAL GABLES — Miami faces a Notre Dame defense Saturday that has allowed an average of nine points per game, no rushing touchdowns and one pass of 40 yards or longer. (Miami leads I-A with 11 passes of 40 or longer.)

The main reason for Notre Dame's success: All-America LB Manti Te'o. He has three interceptions (first in the nation among linebackers and sixth overall) and two fumble recoveries. "Te'o is as good as advertised," Miami coach Al Golden said. "He holds it all together and does a great job running the operation for them."

South Florida Sun Sentinel

FSU: Tall task

TALLAHASSEE — Last season N.C. State led I-A with 27 interceptions. Last week it allowed Miami's Stephen Morris to pass for an ACC-record 566 yards in a 44-37 loss.

But FSU expects to see a group that more resembles the 2011 team. The Wolfpack has a tall secondary. CB David Amerson (13 interceptions last season) is 6 feet 3, S Brandan Bishop 6-2 and Earl Wolff 6-0. "You have to be more direct with your passes," Seminoles QB EJ Manuel said. "You have to be extremely accurate."

The Seminoles have experience with tall defenders, facing 6-2 CB Xavier Rhodes during practice. "With the bigger guys," WR Rodney Smith said, "you just look forward to a more physical game."

Orlando Sentinel

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