BATON ROUGE, LA — Third-ranked and undefeated LSU (5-0) got some good news on Wednesday as starting fullback J.C. Copeland went through the entire practice and will likely play Saturday when the Tigers travel to face 10th-ranked and unbeaten Florida (4-0) in Gainesville.
Copeland, a key component in LSU’s rushing attack that is averaging 229.6 yards a game, was helped off the field last week in the 38-22 win over Towson. At the time, it was thought that Copeland could be out of action for an extended period of time.
“We are pleasantly surprised that J.C.’s injury is nothing major,” LSU head coach Les Miles said following Wednesday’s practice. “I think it was more of a young guy that had is leg turned in a different direction and that didn’t translate very well to him. It (knee) didn’t swell and it’s not very tender. He practiced fully today and we expect him to play.”
Copeland has started all five games for the Tigers, rushing for 41 yards and three touchdowns in nine carries.
Copeland’s return only added to what Miles has called a good week of practice as the Tigers are preparing for their first Top 25 opponent and just second road game of the season.
“I think the preparation has been good,” Miles said. “I like the energy and enthusiasm at practice. The hard work has certainly been done. The finish and the fine-tuning takes place on Thursday and Friday, and certainly that will happen. We are looking forward to playing a very quality Florida at The Swamp.”
Against Florida, the Tigers will face a team that is off to a 4-0 start, which includes road wins over Texas A&M and Tennessee. The Gators also have a conference win over Kentucky to go with a non-league victory over Bowling Green.
“This is a very talented Florida team that is well coached by Will Muschamp,” Miles said. “They are efficient on offense and they are going to come at you on defense. They have a talented defensive front that gets to the ball and pressures the offensive line.
“It’s always a challenge to go into The Swamp and play for any team and it will be no different this weekend.”
The Tigers hope to draw on the experience of their only road game of the year when it comes to getting ready to play at Florida. Three weeks ago, LSU started fast and then had to hold on to beat Auburn, 12-10, at Jordan-Hare Stadium.
“I would expect the thing that we need to take from our first road experience is how we played in the second half and that we started fast,” Miles said. “If there are two things that I would like to have from the first road game that would be it. If we do those things, and we finish, I think we will be fine.”
The Tigers will practice again on Thursday afternoon followed by a walk-thru on Friday morning. The Tigers will depart for Gainesville on Friday afternoon. Kickoff between the Tigers and Gators is scheduled for 2:30 p.m. CT on Saturday with CBS televising the game to a national audience