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After rolling through the first four games of their season, the No. 17/18 Florida Gators were brought back down to earth on Saturday with a 38-10 whooping at the hands of the No. 2/3 Alabama Crimson Tide. Things do not get much easier for them this week as Florida will travel to Baton Rouge, LA to take on the No. 1/2 LSU Tigers in a 3:30 p.m. contest that will air live on CBS.
Taking part in the Southeastern Conference's weekly teleconference on Wednesday, Tigers head coach Les Miles expressed his appreciation for what the Gators have accomplished up to this point in the season.
"[We] feel like Florida is a very talented, well-prepared team," he said. "Certainly we're familiar with [Will] Muschamp and [Charlie] Weis. They do a great job preparing their offense and defense and, for that matter, special teams. It's going to be a great challenge."
The biggest challenge for LSU will be replicating Alabama's ability to shut down Florida's running game. Featuring two of the fastest players of the country in running backs senior Jeff Demps and redshirt senior Chris Rainey, the Gators will add another rushing component this week with mobile freshman quarterback Jeff Driskel likely taking over the starting job from injured redshirt senior John Brantley.
Miles was called the duo "pretty exceptional players" who are "pretty unique to themselves" and noted that the Tigers have had experience this year dealing with a mobile signal caller, too.
"We've run into those offenses early in our season, so it would be something that we would have some familiarity with," he said. "Great speed on the field is certainly one of the most difficult characteristics to defend. It makes small space into big space, and it's a very elusive feature. You're going to have to have a line of scrimmage, you're going to have to play responsible football and you're going to have to tackle quickly and efficiently."
LSU's talented, athletic and physical front seven will do its best to take care of Florida's running game, and Miles will rely on one of the best secondary players in the country to clean everything up on the back end.
Sophomore cornerback Tyrann Mathieu leads the Tigers with 35 total tackles (four for loss) and also has 1.5 sacks rushing the quarterback. He only has one interception on the season but has forced four fumbles, recovered three of them and returned two the other way for touchdowns.
Miles said Wednesday that a player like Mathieu does not come along often.
"What happens with guys that make those kinds of plays this routinely, I think that they envision each play as an opportunity to make a great play," he said. "It just happens that they're put in that position that they saw that great play that they were about to make even before it ever happened. I think there are a few of those [guys]. I think that Patrick Peterson certainly was one. [Mathieu] sees it routinely."
He will be just one more thing the Gators have to worry about as they trek into Death Valley on Saturday for their second-straight contest against a top-ranked opponent.