The college football regular season is steadily waning as the days of November tick by and for the Florida Gators, it has been a fall filled with peaks and valleys on the gridiron.
Second-year head coach Billy Napier had a monumental task with one of the toughest schedules in the nation — and that lineup does not get any easier over the last three games of 2023.
Next up for Florida are the LSU Tigers, who have had a bit of a disappointing season as well though they have still maintained a top-25 ranking since the preseason. The Bayou Bengals are the first of a trio of top teams the Gators face with one win still needed to earn bowl eligibility.
Ahead of the Week 11 matchup between Florida and LSU in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, LSU Tigers Wire managing editor and former Gators Wire assistant editor Tyler Nettuno stopped by to give his takes on the upcoming opponent. Take a look below at what he had to offer.
It has not been smooth sailing despite lofty expectations. What is the general sentiment about the team?
I think it’s fair to say there’s a disappointing vibe around the fanbase right now. Not everyone thought this was a potential playoff team, but it was certainly expected to at least compete in the West again. Three losses in early November is not where anyone thought this team would be, especially with the offense exceeding expectations.
Do you think Jayden Daniels will be cleared for the game?
I don’t want to speculate too much when it comes to a head injury. Brian Kelly said Monday that he’s day-to-day but still making progress. I would say that it’s interesting that they haven’t officially said whether he has a concussion. I think he has a decent chance to play, but that’s purely conjecture.
How badly would it affect LSU if he had to miss the game?
LSU really likes its backup in Garrett Nussmeier, a guy who certainly would’ve had portal suitors this past offseason. Nussmeier has looked good in limited action, but he’s never made a start. He doesn’t have Daniels’ mobility, but he throws a nice ball and would have a safety blanket of arguably the top receiver duo in the country.
The Tigers have struggled on defense. What is/are the cause(s) of their woes?
Where do I start? The secondary is a big problem, and the portal-heavy group is pushing into its young depth with a number of guys unavailable. Linebacker play is leaving a lot to be desired as Harold Perkins struggles to find an every-down role.
The front four had been the strength, but it struggled in its first game without its best player in Mekhi Wingo, who’s out for the year.
LSU has three very winnable games left — what are the chance they win out?
I think the chances remain pretty high. Georgia State isn’t bad but shouldn’t provide a real challenge, and the Tigers will look to get revenge against Texas A&M, this time at home. That one seems a bit tougher than the Florida matchup, but this team should be a comfortable favorite the rest of the way.
Which Gators player are you most concerned with?
It’s definitely Tre Wilson. This Gators team doesn’t really have a lot of elite playmakers, but he has that kind of potential. Against a depleted LSU secondary that couldn’t tackle to save its life last week, he could be in for a big game.
Who will be LSU’s x-factor (other than Daniels)?
I’ll go with Brian Thomas Jr. Malik Nabers is this team’s leading receiver, and I expect he’ll draw Jason Marshall Jr. most of the game. Jalen Kimber has struggled on the other side, and with Thomas also being one of the nation’s best wideouts and a major deep-ball threat, I could see him going off in this game.
LSU’s defensive issues can’t be understated, and while this Florida group may not be that explosive, it is finding some success, especially against weaker defenses. But the youthful Gators’ defense, which was strong earlier in the year but seems to have been exposed in recent weeks, feels like a terrible matchup against an LSU offense loaded with playmakers.
LSU 41, Florida 28