By RAYMOND PARTSCH III, Journal Sports
GAINESVILLE, Fla. — For the second consecutive week, the LSU football team held a players-only meeting.
The first meeting occurred two days after the team’s road victory over Auburn, as quarterback Jayden Daniels held a meeting with the Tigers’ wide receivers. The goal of that gathering was to address LSU’s passing game issues as the team threw for a mere 85 yards in the 21-17 victory.
The second meeting took place on Monday when Mekhi Gardner and others met to discuss LSU’s special team issues (muffed kickoff, busts on punt coverage, etc.) in the 27-point defeat to Tennessee last Saturday in Tiger Stadium.
LSU coach Brian Kelly has no issues with his players holding said meetings.
“You’re gonna have a lot of emotions after a loss,” Kelly said. “We had the most important emotion that they care and this team cares and they care about the things necessary that go into winning. Look, the line is long for those people that want to win. The line is not quite as long for those that are willing to do the things necessary to win. And these guys want to do the things necessary to win and so that’s what they’re asking.”
LSU (4-2, 2-1 SEC) will be looking to do all the things necessary to win when the Tigers take on Florida (4-2, 1-2 SEC) tonight. Kickoff is set for 6:05 p.m. on ESPN.
“Coming back from a disappointing loss last week, guys were excited about the opportunity,” Kelly said. “They’ve had an opportunity to work hard this week and look forward to the challenge. Another SEC opponent, which, again, poses all kinds of problems, great quarterback, Coach (Billy) Napier’s (an) outstanding football coach and our guys are excited about the challenge.”
LSU’s challenge is to execute in all three phases in one of SEC’s toughest venues Ben Hill Griffin Stadium — aka “The Swamp.”
“It’s always a challenge and it’ll be a challenge obviously in ‘The Swamp’ with that incredible fan base and a great atmosphere,” Kelly said. “So you’ve got to be ready for the distractions, but you gotta be ready for outstanding personnel across the board. That’s the great thing about it. That’s why I wanted to coach in the SEC. I think it’s the best conference in college football and you get challenged each and every week and if you love college football and you love doing this, there’s not a better place to be.”
The LSU-Florida series has been a challenging rivalry game for the two programs, which have won a combined five national titles since 2001.
The series also has been the epitome of balance as Florida holds a slim 33-32-3 lead, and home-field advantage has been anything but as the home team holds an 11-10 advantage since 2001. Also of note, LSU has won nine of the last 12 meetings, including three straight.
Kelly may be new to the SEC but he understands what the rivalry series between LSU and Florida means.
“It’s the one game that we crossover with and it’s always on the schedule,” Kelly said. “So that creates a rivalry in itself when it’s a game that you play every year. So I know our guys look forward to it. And certainly there’s been some close and exciting games year in and year out. I am learning more and more about the history of this rivalry. This game means so much.”
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