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College football

Keys to victory

By ANTONYA ENGLISH
Published October 9, 2004

FIVE KEYS TO VICTORY FOR UF

1. CAPITALIZE ON BIG PLAYS: Florida scored 28 in one quarter against Arkansas last weekend by playing a wide-open offense. Despite surrendering 45 points to Georgia, LSU is still tied for fourth in the league in defense at 15.8 per game. Florida needs to strike early to get the crowd into the game and put LSU on the defensive.

2. CIATRICK FASON: Fason is the league's top rusher and needs to play like it. LSU has the second-best rushing defense in the SEC. Florida relies on a strong running game. If it can't run, it has problems. And while DeShawn Wynn and Skyler Thornton provide solid backup, this is Fason's show.

3. THE OFFENSIVE LINE: The Tigers lead the league with 12 sacks. The vastly improved Florida offensive line expects its greatest test yet. Protecting Chris Leak is essential for Florida, which has relied on a balanced attack. Several linemen said they're willing to do anything short of a 15-yard penalty to protect Leak. Tonight is a good time to prove it.

4. DEFENSIVE CONSISTENCY: Florida has been up and down, which was expected after replacing four starters in the secondary. The Gators allowed 23 points in nine minutes last week, proving they haven't learned how to hold big leads.

5. DON'T OVERLOOK THE TIGERS: Yes, LSU is fresh off a 29-point loss and has two conference losses, but that doesn't mean it can't play. A Florida win and Tennessee loss (to Georgia) puts Florida back in the thick of the SEC East race. LSU's season might be on the line, and underestimating what it's capable of would be a huge mistake.

FIVE KEYS TO VICTORY FOR LSU

1. ESTABLISH THE RUN: LSU is only eighth in the league in rushing, averaging 164.2 yards. But the Tigers have a talented group of backs, including sophomore Justin Vincent, who has six 100-yard games. Consistency has been a problem. In last week's loss to Georgia, LSU rushed for just 67 yards.

2. GET AHEAD QUICKLY: Before last week, the Tigers scored on their first two possessions in three consecutive games. Last week, LSU was held scoreless for most of the first half. Getting down early on the road makes winning that much tougher. LSU is 36-3 under coach Nick Saban when leading at halftime. Enough said.

3. QUARTERBACK CONSISTENCY: The Tigers are using two quarterbacks, redshirt freshman JaMarcus Russell and senior Marcus Randall. Combined, they have LSU third in the league in passing.

4. DEFENSE! DEFENSE!: The Tigers didn't allow a rushing touchdown until last week (20 quarters) and have a sack in 30 consecutive games and 12 in five games. Many players are new, but defense always has been a staple under Saban. LSU needs to slow down the Gators' high-powered offense.

5. FORGET GEORGIA: A 45-16 loss might not be the easiest game to get over, but LSU doesn't have a choice. It needs to shake off any lingering hangover and move on.

[Last modified October 9, 2004, 01:03:23]


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