SEC NOTEBOOK: No. 6 LSU, No. 8 Florida highlight top-10 matchups
Published 12:00 pm Friday, October 16, 2015
It will be another top-10 matchup in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, when No. 8 Florida (6-0, 3-0 Southeastern Conference) visits No. 6 LSU (5-0, 2-0) on Saturday.
A game with SEC and national championship implications taking place in Death Valley is nothing new, but the resurgence of the Gators and the Tiger offense powered by running back Leonard Fournette has people’s interest piqued.
Fournette leads the SEC with 1,022 rushing yards, nearly 300 more yards than Georgia running back Nick Chubb had before his season-ending knee injury. The Tigers’ sophomore is the catalyst to their offense as he has ran the ball 119 times in five games and scored 12 touchdowns, which also leads the SEC.
“I know I couldn’t tackle him,” Florida coach Jim McElwain said. “Here’s what I told our guys, somebody jump on his back, maybe that will slow him down. Maybe somebody else grabs a shoelace and he trips.”
The Gator defense will have its hands full with Fournette as it is, but now the Gators will have to defend the LSU back without one of their starting defensive backs.
Freshman Deiondre Porter was arrested Wednesday morning on four felony charges and one misdemeanor after an argument with his pregnant girlfriend during which he is alledged to have held a handgun to her head.
“He’s no longer with the football team,” McElwain said. “He’s suspended indefinitely for obviously a choice. It’s his choice not to be with us. It’s one of those things that we don’t condone.”
Florida was already without starting quarterback Will Grier after being suspended for one year after testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.
Tide rolls into Texas
The second top-10 matchup in the SEC will take place just west of Baton Rouge in College Station, Texas. The No. 10 Alabama Crimson Tide will travel to No. 9 Texas A&M for what could be a pivotal game in the race for the SEC West crown.
Alabama (5-1, 2-1) has recovered since its loss to Ole Miss on Sept. 19, having racked up conference wins over Georgia and Arkansas the past two weeks, respectively. The Tide are still firmly in the division race and can make their presence felt again with a win over the Aggies.
They will just have to defend one of the fastest offenses they have seen this year.
“I don’t think there’s any question about it,” Alabama coach Nick Saban said. “They’ve got overall the best skill players that we’ve played against. I think they have outstanding team speed. … It’s going to be a real test, and the quarterbacks are athletic and can run. So this is a very skilled, fast team.”
Elliot makes his debut
After South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier announced earlier this week he was stepping down, effective immediately, there was an immediate search for who was going to fill the Head Ball Coach’s shoes.
That task has been handed to co-offensive coordinator Shawn Elliott, who was named the interim head coach on Tuesday.
Not only does Elliot have to step into the role of head coach during the middle of a season, but he also has to coach his first game against an SEC opponent in Vanderbilt. South Carolina (2-4) is also looking for its first conference win of the season, having started 0-4 on the year.
“We’ve just tried to take as positive a step as we can,” Elliott said. “Our players are focused, energetic. … They’re motivated and hungry. To go from busting your tail Monday night at practice as o-line (coach) and co-offensive coordinator, to wake up head coach at USC. … It’s a whirlwind.”