With Daniels uncertain, LSU begins Florida prep with Nussmeier at QB

PINCH-HITTING: For the second time in as many seasons, Garrett Nussmeier came off the bench Saturday night to replace an injured Jayden Daniels as LSU’s quarterback. (Photo by GUS STARK, LSU Athletics)

By RON HIGGINS, Journal Sports

BATON ROUGE – After being placed in concussion protocol for the vicious fourth-quarter helmet-to helmet blow that knocked him out of last Saturday’s 42-28 loss at Alabama, LSU starting quarterback Jayden Daniels is listed as day-to-day for Saturday’s 6:30 p.m. SEC home game vs. Florida.

“I can tell you he has made some progress,” LSU coach Brian Kelly said at his Monday press briefing. “But this is a process that we’ll just have to see how it plays out from day to day.”

So, it’s likely when the Tigers return to the practice field on Tuesday, backup sophomore redshirt Garrett Nussmeier will be taking many snaps with the first-team offense.

After Daniels was removed from the Alabama game with 12:54 left to play when he was leveled by Tide linebacker Dallas Turner, Nussmeier ran LSU’s last 10 plays spread over two series. He finished 5 of 10 for 53 passing yards.

“Garrett really knows there’s some things that he’s got to work on during the week,” Kelly said. “It will be more of a focused working kind of situation for him and he’s one snap away from getting in the game.”

The 6-2, 205-pound Nussmeier has played in five games this season, completing 17 of 33 passes for 196 yards and 1 TD. For his Tigers’ career, he’s played in 16 games and completed 98 of 174 for 1,324 yards, 5 TDs and 1 interception.

Last season as Daniels’ backup, Nussmeier appeared in seven games and completed 52-of-84 passes for 800 yards, 5 TDs and 4 interceptions.

In his final two games vs. Georgia in the SEC championship game and vs. Purdue in the Citrus Bowl, he came off the bench and completed a combined 26 of 42 for 467 passing yards, 4 TDs and 2 interceptions.

His 294 passing yards in the second half against Georgia is an LSU record for passing yards in a half.

“We all believe in him for sure,” LSU running back Josh Willams said of Nussmeier after the loss at Alabama.

The Tigers (6-3, 4-2 SEC West), who slipped No. 18 and 19 respectively in the AP and Coaches polls, have to reset their season goals since hopes of winning the West Division have evaporated.

“If we want to be elite, we have to be consistent,” Kelly said. “We won 10 games last year. You need to win again, and that’s in front of you. You have an opportunity to win 10 games again this season.

“If you want to start closing the gap towards being elite, then back-to-back 10-win seasons start to do that. It’s a challenge to our football team in terms of how you want this program to continue to grow.”


No. 18 LSU (6-2 overall, 4-1 in SEC West) vs. Florida (5-4, 3-3 SEC East), Tiger Stadium, Saturday, 6:30 p.m. (ESPN)

Last game for Florida: Lost at home last Saturday vs. Arkansas, 39-36 in overtime. The Gators couldn’t stop Hogs’ QB KJ Jefferson, who threw for 255 yards and 2 TDs (including the game-winner) and ran for 82 yards. Florida placekicker Trey Smack missed a game-winning 44-yard field goal as time expired in regulation.

Series record and last meeting: The series is even 33-33-3. Last season in Gainesville, LSU won 45-35. Tigers’ QB Jayden Daniels exploded for 393 total offense yards and six TDs. He threw for 349 yards and three TDs and ran for 44 yards and three TDs.

Florida head coach: Billy Napier (51-23 in five seasons overall, 11-11 in his second season at Florida)


Early betting line: LSU is favored by 13½ points

Number of Louisiana natives on Florida roster: 6

Number of Florida natives on LSU roster: 7

Number of transfers on Florida roster from 4-year schools: 22 players from 18 schools including 10 players from eight Power 5 conference schools


OFFENSE  QB Graham Mertz (221 of 299 for 2,409 passing yards, 17 TDs, 2 interceptions), RB Montrell Johnson Jr. (555 rushing yards, 4 TDs on 106 carries), RB Trevor Etienne (529 rushing yards, 4 TDs on 88 carries), WR Ricky Pearsall (55 catches for 773 receiving yards, 3 TDs), DEFENSE JACK LB Princely Umanmielen (24 tackles, 8 TFLs, 5 sacks, 9 QB hurries), LB Scooby Williams (41 tackles, 3½ TFL, 1½ sacks, 4 QB hurries), SPECIAL TEAMS PK/KO Trey Smack (14 of 16 field goals, 17 of 17 extra points, 54 kickoffs for 63.1 ypko, 43 touchbacks, 1 out of bounds), P Jeremy Crenshaw (30 for 48.47 avg., 4 touchbacks, 8 fair catches, 9 inside 20-yard line, 16 50 yards or more), PR Ricky Pearsall 11 for 126 yards), KR Travis Etienne (7 for 175 yards)


  1. Who holds the Florida record for most 100-yard rushing games in a career?

         A. Fred Taylor

         B. Errict Rhett

         C. Emmitt Smith

         D. Tim Tebow

  1. What was the significance of Florida’s 20-6 1964 win over LSU in Tiger Stadium?

         A. It was played as the last game of the regular season, moved to December after it was canceled in October when Hurricane Hilda hit south Louisiana

        B. Florida’s starting QB was future Heisman Trophy winner and future Gators coaching legend Steve Spurrier

        C. LSU was No. 7 nationally entering the game

        D. All of the above

  1. Who are Florida’s three Heisman Trophy winners?

        A. Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel, Emmitt Smith

        B. Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel, Tim Tebow

        C. Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel, Shane Matthews

        D. Tim Tebow, Tim Tebow Jr., Tim Tebow III

ANSWERS: 1. C 2. D 3. B.

Contact Ron at ronhigginsmedia.com