Saturday night in Baton Rouge, LSU took it on the chin against No. 1 Alabama, who will be heading to Atlanta next weekend to play for the SEC Championship.
This weekend LSU goes on the road to play the newly minted champs of the SEC East, the Florida Gators. Will the result of this Saturday look like last Saturday? Probably. To get a better idea of the Gators, we chat with Christopher Adams of Alligator Army.
1) Kyle Trask made his first career start against LSU and the rest, as they say, is history. Trask is a Heisman favorite and has probably played his way into the first round of next spring’s NFL draft. What has been the biggest reason for the Trask evolution?
I think Trask has just continued to get more comfortable and experienced. He had a pretty good season last year—25 touchdowns, only seven picks, New Year’s Six victory— so it makes sense that he’s gotten better. A lot of credit goes to the coaches, especially Dan Mullen, for adapting his offensive scheme to fit Trask’s skillset. Mullen has always favored a more mobile quarterback, guys like Nick Fitzgerald, Tim Tebow, etc., and Trask is not that guy. He is a pure pocket passer in every sense of the world, and Mullen, along with offensive coordinator Brian Johnson, tailored their offensive approach to Trask. The scheme is built around Trask dropping back and distributing the ball to his playmakers and it gets the most out of this team, and it has certainly gotten the best out of Kyle Trask.
2) Is Kyle Pitts the best offensive weapon in college football? How do you defend this guy?
Yes. Yes he is. The only guy on the same planet as Pitts is Alabama’s Devonta Smith, but Pitt’s has been so good that I have zero problems calling him the offensive weapon, or even best overall player in all of college football. His combination of athleticism and technical prowess is unfair. He’s 6’6’ 240lbs with legit receiver speed and unbelievable ball skills, who’s also a capable blocker. If you were building the perfect tight end, it would be Kyle Pitts.
As for how to defend him, I honestly don’t know if you can. Unless you have one unbelievable freak-athlete safety, perhaps a Tyrann Mathieu-esque player, there’s nothing you can do. When he gets thrown a 50/50 ball it’s more like an 80/20 because he is so big with such good hands that it is near impossible to cover him one on one. What’s worse is that teams can’t afford to double or triple team Pitts either. If you double Pitts, that’s leaving one of Florida’s other elite weapons in single coverage which is a huge gamble.
When Kyle Pitts is in the lineup, this offense is borderline unstoppable. With the amount of weapons available, Trask’s total command of the offense, Mullen and Brian Johnson’s excellent play-calling, adding a total gamebreaker like Pitts to that mix makes it a near-impossible challenge for defenses.
3) I don’t mean for you to look ahead but how are you feeling about Florida playing Alabama in Atlanta next Saturday?
Right now it’s a very nervous excitement. This is a great opportunity to prove that Florida is one of the best teams in the country and that they deserve to be in the playoff. I think this team is very good and has played great football much of this season and can absolutely compete with Alabama in this game. However, it’s hard not to worry when it comes to Alabama.
They’re the gold standard, they’re the top dogs, and that’s a tough hill to climb. Especially with how dominant Alabama has been the entire year, and how unstoppable they look at times, this game could be brutal. I expect the Gators to show up and play well, but Bama has been so good that things can sour for Florida.
4) Winning the East is an achievement in its own right, but does that alone satisfy Gator fans? Does Mullen need to get his team to the CFP this year?
It’d be nice if Florida made the playoff, but I think Mullen’s accomplishments this season have been incredible. For me, the most important thing was getting past Georgia. While the hope is always to compete for titles, being the top team in the East and beating our biggest rival in the league was the primary goal. Dan Mullen has a great thing going here in Gainesville and this has been another step on his excellent rebuild.
5) LSU is as downtrodden as it gets right now, but is there any part of this Tiger team that gives you concern? It’s okay if you say no it won’t hurt my feelings
If Myles Brennan was still at quarterback and Terrance Marshall was still at receiver, then I’d be very worried about the LSU offense, but without that, no, this team doesn’t worry me very much. Obviously this is still a talented team so it’s not a gimme the way Tennessee or Vanderbilt were, but LSU is in such a tailspin right now that it’s hard to be concerned with this team.
With that being said, Florida’s defense has had plenty of suspect moments and the talent is still there, even without those two stars, to make the Gators sweat this one out. If LSU can get things clicking, then this could become a bit of a shootout.