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Playing Nice: Florida

Topher Adams of Alligator Army is this week’s guest

NCAA Football: LSU at Florida The Gainesville Sun-USA TODAY NETWORK

Well its Florida week, maybe LSU’s most bitter rival across all sports.

The cloud hanging over the LSU football program is as dark and gloomy as can be...kind of like last season until LSU’s JV team went into the Swamp and beat these very same Gators. Can LSU do it again? Topher Adams of our sister site Alligator Army breaks it all down.

1. First off, has Dan Mullen learned his lesson to not sit his best players regardless of opponent?

Last year was a mistake. The stink of that loss to LSU is going to waft over Mullen’s head until he wins a national title. I thought we were getting another situation like that against Tennessee with cornerback Kaiir Elam, but that was just a not reporting injury problem, not a grossly overlooking an opponent problem.

2. Florida’s already got two losses and still has to play the Dawgs in Jacksonville. What’s the hope for the remainder of the season? Can they get back to another NY6 game?

Florida’s playoff hopes died in Lexington, and a lot of fans deemed the season over. Florida has a lot of “championship or bust” fans, but there’s still plenty left to play for. Georgia looks like a leviathan right now, but Florida has a tendency to play up to the competition. Outside of that, the schedule is incredibly weak. 9-3 is the minimum expectation, 10-2 is possible. If Florida beats Georgia, it’ll be another big bowl game and another successful season, even if it wasn’t quite what some fans wanted.

3. Is Mullen still rocking the two-QB thing with Emory Jones and Anthony Richardson or has he settled on Jones?

Yes and yes. Mullen is seemingly committed to playing both guys all year, but it’s more the way Emory played his first few years. Richardson will probably get one or two series a game, but that’s about it. Early in the season, this was a full blown quarterback controversy, but since then Emory has grown a ton while Anthony had a hamstring injury and has looked very much like a freshman the last two games. So you’ll see both on Saturday, but it’s Emory’s team.

4. Not that Florida needs the help but LSU’s got maybe the worst offensive line in the Power 5. Who from Florida’s front can cause the most damage?

Yeah, sorry Zach but the Gators are pretty great on the defensive front. Zach Carter is leading the SEC in sacks with six and sophomore Gervon Dexter is becoming a force on the interior. Brenton Cox can also get after the quarterback, but his production hasn’t been great as he’s dealt with some injury issues. The depth really isn’t all that great, but the top guys are NFL quality.

5. Is there a feeling that Florida’s hit a ceiling under Mullen? It feels like he can get them to Atlanta every now and then but for whatever reason Florida has yet to make the leap from good to great

That’s definitely the question around the program right now. A lot of people believe that this is the peak with Mullen at Florida, and I kind of see that point. The reason Florida hasn’t made that leap is recruiting. Mullen is a great Xs and Os guy who can get the best out of what he has, but to reach the level of Georgia and Alabama, the recruiting has to be better. The best players of the Mullen era, and even some of the best players on this current team, were McElwain recruits and the recruiting the last few years isn’t close to where it was when Florida was a legit title threat, so fans are worried that Mullen’s peaked. However, I still back him to lead Florida to title challenges in the future, especially once the new football facility opens which should reduce the recruiting gap.

6. Finally, is there any chance LSU can spring a hilarious upset for the second year in a row? What would a Florida loss look like?

Absolutely LSU could win this ball game. Florida played down to the Tigers last year, they played down to Kentucky two weeks ago, it’s part of who Florida has been under Dan Mullen. If Florida comes out super flat like it did against Vanderbilt, LSU will win this game. The penalties have been a massive problem recently, so if that isn’t fixed, Florida will be in trouble. I expect Florida to win by multiple scores, but it’ll never feel comfortable.