Chomp: Here’s hoping the Gators don’t throw any shoes when they go to Death Valley

FILE - Tiger Stadium is shown before an NCAA football game between LSU and Northwestern State in Baton Rouge, La., in this Sept. 14, 2019, file photo. (AP Photo/Patrick Dennis, File) (Patrick Dennis)

This story first appeared in Chomp, our Gators football newsletter. Subscribe here.

Injuries to key starters. Talk surrounding the head coach’s future. A two-game losing streak.

No. 20 Florida (4-2, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) should be just fine on Saturday when they take on LSU (3-3, 1-2) in Tiger Stadium, right?

Wrong. Nothing is certain. If this series has taught us anything, it’s to expect a close game and be prepared for anything to happen.

Even a thrown shoe.

A walk down memory lane: Anything can, and often does, happen in Florida-LSU rivalry | Game preview: Florida guarding against giving LSU any more breaks

Quarterback Emory Jones said the Gators will try to eliminate mistakes like they had during last season’s inexplicable 37-34 loss to the Tigers.

“And just make sure that we don’t beat ourselves,” Jones said.

On the road, the Gators will also attempt to prevent penalties like they had during their 20-13 loss at Kentucky two weeks ago when they had eight false starts.

“We’ve had a talk and we have a plan,” coach Dan Mullen said.

It’s unclear, though, what the plan will be for quarterback Anthony Richardson, who had limited snaps in the Gators’ 42-0 home win over Vanderbilt last week and who hasn’t had many opportunities to showcase his explosiveness since straining his right hamstring. In this episode of Gators Breakdown, host David Waters is joined by Will Miles, with Read and Reaction, to discuss the development of Florida’s signal-callers so far this season.

On the defense, Florida expects cornerback Kaiir Elam to return after missing three games with a sprained right knee. LSU’s defense, however, will be without cornerbacks Derek Stingley Jr., who’s out indefinitely after a foot procedure, and Eli Ricks, who opted to have season-ending surgery to repair an injury. The Tigers’ offense will be missing star wide receiver Kayshon Boutte, who’s out with a leg injury.

For the coaches, it’s a significant game for both, but it’s unlikely the outcome will have much of an impact on either.

If the Gators lose, it’ll be their fifth in Baton Rouge in the last six meetings there, with Florida’s lone road win during that timeframe coming in 2016 when the game was postponed and moved due to Hurricane Matthew. The Gators had an epic goal-line stand to escape with a 16-10 victory.

Mullen is 3-9 against LSU in his career and 1-2 in his time at Florida, with the only victory coming in 2018 when the Gators got a 27-19 upset win over the Tigers in the Swamp. That was Florida’s last win over their permanent SEC West rival, so a win Saturday would help boost the morale of fans still heartbroken by the loss to Kentucky — and last year’s loss to LSU in the fog.

Meanwhile, it’s hard to say whether a win will quiet the speculation about the future of coach Ed Orgeron. The Tigers have dropped two straight SEC games, the most recent a 42-21 loss at Kentucky — the same team the Gators suffered their last loss against. Plus, the Tigers still have several tough tests ahead of them this season, with games against Ole Miss, Alabama, Arkansas and Texas A&M on the schedule.

In the latest episode of Gators Breakdown, David is joined by Blake Ruffino, with Are You Serious Sports, to discuss what has gone wrong for LSU so far this season and all the drama surrounding the Tigers’ head coach.

But, hey, at least this isn’t a night game. Saturday’s game will kick off at noon and will be broadcast on ESPN.

🟠 All orange uniforms

Orange on orange on orange.

With the Bayou Bengals wearing their white home jerseys, the Gators will be donning orange helmets, tops and pants. It’s the same combination Florida wore in 2016 when it got its last win in Death Valley.

See the look here.

🏟️ Top games of Week 7

Here’s who all of the AP Top 25 teams are playing in Week 7 (all games are on Saturday unless noted otherwise):

No. 11 Kentucky at No. 1 Georgia — 3:30 p.m.

Purdue at No. 2 Iowa — 3:30 p.m.

UCF at No. 3 Cincinnati — Noon

TCU at No. 4 Oklahoma —7:30 p.m.

No. 5 Alabama at Mississippi State —7 p.m.

No. 6 Ohio State — BYE

No. 7 Penn State — BYE

No. 8 Michigan — BYE

California at No. 9 Oregon — 10:30 p.m. Friday

No. 10 Michigan State at Indiana — Noon

No. 12 Oklahoma State at No. 25 Texas — Noon

No. 13 Ole Miss at Tennessee — 7:30 p.m.

No. 14 Notre Dame — BYE

No. 15 Coastal Carolina — BYE

No. 16 Wake Forest — BYE

Auburn at No. 17 Arkansas —Noon

No. 18 Arizona State at Utah — 10 p.m.

No. 19 BYU at Baylor — 3:30 p.m.

No. 20 Florida at LSU — Noon

No. 21 Texas A&M at Missouri — Noon

No. 22 NC State at Boston College — 7:30 p.m.

No. 23 SMU — BYE

No. 24 San Diego State at San Jose State — 10:30 p.m. Friday

😀 We got a commit!

Wide receiver Jayden Gibson picked Florida over Georgia and South Carolina.

The 247Sports Composite has Gibson — from West Orange in Winter Garden — rated as a four star and ranked the No. 26 wide receiver in the nation. So far during his senior season, Gibson has caught 31 passes for 496 yards and 10 touchdowns. He’s on track to graduate high school early and start classes at Florida in January.

Gibson joins wide receiver commits Chandler Smith and Isaiah Bond in the Gators 2022 recruiting class, which now has 15 players and is currently ranked 15th nationally and fifth in the SEC.

The early signing period is Dec. 15-17.

🏈 Jones named to Davey O’Brien Award Great 8 List

Emory Jones was named to the Davey O’Brien Award Great 8 List after his career-high performance against Vanderbilt last week.

Jones recorded his first-career game of three-plus passing touchdowns, throwing four touchdown passes and also setting a career high with 273 yards passing.

Any player named to a Great 8 list during the season who was not previously named to the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award’s Preseason Watch List is officially added to the Midseason Watch List and becomes eligible for consideration for the Davey O’Brien National Quarterback Award.

🐊 Moon selected as Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year Nominee

Jeremiah Moon was selected as a Mayo Clinic Comeback Player of the Year Nominee.

The award honors inspiring student-athletes of college football who have overcome injury, illness or other challenges.

Moon suffered his third season-ending injury in the fourth game of the 2020 season. Each time the season was cut short for the native of Hoover Alabama, he put in the work to rehabilitate and improve.

He chose to return for his sixth season despite graduating last fall with a degree in telecommunications. Due to an injury to Ventrell Miller, he moved from his familiar outside linebacker position to middle linebacker. Through five games this season, he has been more productive than ever, recording 32 tackles, two and a half tackles for a loss, one sack, three quarterback hits and one pass defended.

He is currently working toward his master’s degree in sports management and represents the Gators on the SEC Football Leadership Council.

🏆 Fason, Ratliff to be inducted into Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame

Former Florida running back Ciatrick Fason and cornerback Kiewan Ratliff will be inducted this month into the 2021 Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame.

Fason went 2-1 against the Bulldogs and had his best game against them in 2004. He rushed for 139 yards and had a career-best five catches in that game.

Ratliff played for the Gators from 2000-03. He had a program-best nine interceptions in 2003.

They are joined by former Georgia linebacker Thomas Davis and offensive lineman Jon Stinchcomb in the Class of 2021.

Created in 1995, the Florida-Georgia Hall of Fame honors and recognizes the memorable players, coaches and administrators involved in the long-standing rivalry

🚐 RV City returning to Florida-Georgia weekend

After a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic, one of the biggest features of the Florida-Georgia rivalry weekend in Jacksonville is making a comeback.

News4Jax confirmed that RV City, the temporary town filled with motorhomes and college football fanatics, will return to its prominent spot in Lot E near TIAA Bank Field for this year’s football game.

✉️ Send us your Gators thoughts & questions

David and I want to hear from you. Do you have any thoughts or questions about the Gators football program? Agree or disagree with something we’ve said? Let us know here, and we’ll share our responses to your questions.

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About the Author:

Jacksonville native and proud University of Florida graduate who joined News4JAX in 2016.