Saturday’s LSU Tigers vs. Florida Gators matchup will come down to quarterbacks. At least, that’s what many analysts have stated.
Let’s assume it does.
LSU’s Joe Burrow and Florida’s Feleipe Franks may look similar in some aspects on paper, but they’re two very different players. Here’s how the two stack up.
While it’s still early, Joe Burrow is quickly becoming the best starting quarterback the Tigers have had since Zach Mettenberger. Considering Mettenberger took a full year to settle into the LSU offense and begin playing well, we might even get ahead of ourselves and put Burrow ahead of the Butler Community College transfer.
The fact Burrow still won’t slide is worrisome to many, but it’s obvious he’s trying to take some hits off himself lately.
He’s also shown us that he’s not afraid of taking risks throwing the deep ball, but remains incredibly accurate as he’s yet to throw a single interception as a starter.
As long as he stays healthy, the graduate transfer is going to continue to give teams headaches in both the running and passing game.
Last showing: vs. Ole Miss, W 45-16
Burrow was 18-of-25 passes for 292 yards and three touchdowns. He also finished the game as the team’s leading rusher, running for 96 yards and a touchdown on nine attempts.
Bottom line for Saturday: Florida wide receiver Trevon Grimes can talk all of the trash he wants, but the Gators defense is not going to be able to quiet Burrow entirely on Saturday. He’ll most likely have a better outing than Franks will.
Burrow has proven to be effective both in the air and on the ground, which may spell disaster for the Gators. Dan Mullen’s team hasn’t played an offense with a solid passing game yet this year, either. Their schedule so far has included teams ranked 57th, 59th, 100th and 103rd in yards per pass attempt.
Florida’s defense ranks 31st in yards per pass allowed against these thinner offenses, and it will be interesting to see how they react to a team with a more established air attack.
Many analysts find issue in buying into Feleipe Franks, and that’s not without reason.
Franks is still a work in progress, and granted he can remain consistent, may finally be turning the corner. He’s still late on some throws, and has had some abysmal starts to games that, well, don’t exactly warrant an abysmal start.
The most notable example of this was probably when Franks was under center against Colorado State, opening things up 0-of-6 passes with an interception.
For now, Franks may have a higher quarterback rating than Burrow, but the numbers are deceiving. Five of Franks’ 12 touchdown passes this year were scored against Charleston Southern. Aside from that opponent, the other defenses the Gators have faced are Colorado State, Kentucky and Tennessee.
To be fair, we can remove statistics of ‘lesser opponents’ for each QB. Now, Franks’ QB rating is 132.8 and Burrow’s is 131.9. Completion percentage now stands at 54.9 for Franks, and 54.0 for Burrow.
On the ground, Burrow has Franks beaten. Burrow currently has 35 rushing attempts for 154 yards, and two touchdowns. He averages 4.4 yards per rush, with a long of 35 yards.
Franks totals 38 attempts for 110 yards and one touchdown. The Florida quarterback averages 2.9 yards per rush, with a long of 21 yards.
Last showing: vs. No. 23 Mississippi State, W
Franks was 22-of-31 passes for 219 yards and one interception. Without a touchdown pass, Franks snapped his six-game streak of multiple passing touchdowns.
Bottom line for Saturday:
If LSU’s defense can hold Florida in the air, there’s potential to leave Franks without a touchdown pass in back-to-back games. One thing Franks does have working in his favor is LSU’s shaky pass rush.
But even that may not be something he can count on, as the Tigers’ pass rushing unit showed significant improvement against the Rebels last week.
Given how stout both the LSU and Florida defenses are, this game is probably going to come down to the wire. These are also the top two teams in the SEC in turnover margin. Florida is plus-9, while LSU is plus-7.
Burrow has not thrown an interception in his starting career, but has given up a pair of fumbles. Less than halfway through the season, Franks already totals three interceptions.
If we have to take a guess as to which quarterback is most likely to turn the ball over in a critical situation, it’s Franks.