Tre’Davious White isn’t shy about saying it.
The LSU defensive back will tell you his decision to return for his senior season was a wise one, and he’ll point to his stats as evidence.
“I know I’m having a great season,” White said. “I know that I’ve been doing the things that I’ve been asked to do, over and over. I haven’t been allowing receivers to do anything.”
According cfbfilmroom.com, which tracks advanced stats in college football, the Thorpe and Bednarik Award semifinalist hadn’t given up a catch of 10 yards or more in coverage before last Saturday’s game against Arkansas.
Through the Tigers’ first eight games, opposing quarterbacks had targeted White 27 times with 11 completions against him. The average completion against the Shreveport native gained 6.5 yards. That’s on top of two interceptions, a fumble recovery and two touchdowns – one via an interception and another via a punt return.
That’s why his struggles in a 38-10 win against the Razorbacks don’t faze him.
“Whenever somebody says something about me or writes something about me that’s bad because of a play that I made or a play that I didn’t do,” White said, “it’s nothing nobody can say about me that’s going to affect me because I’m pretty much harder on myself than anybody could be.”
On a third-and-22, Arkansas wide receiver Dominque Reed briefly hesitated and then re-accelerated roughly 15 yards into a route down the sideline. For reasons he can’t explain, White stopped running with Reed until it was too late.
Reed snatched Austin Allen’s pass and glided into the end zone for a 44-yard touchdown.
“If I could explain it to you, I would,” White said. “I don’t know why I stopped running. I don’t know.”
At least on defense, White moved past the mistake quickly, as he broke up a slant route on the ensuing possession. But his rough night didn’t end there. With the Tigers leading 28-10 in the third quarter, White muffed a punt.
In LSU’s 10-0 loss to Alabama a week prior, White caught a punt inside the 5-yard line down, instead of letting it bounce into the end zone for a touchback. For now, interim coach Ed Orgeron is sticking with White as his punt returner.
“We believe in him,” Orgeorn said. “He made a mistake. He's going to be our returner, but we're going to be ready to put somebody else in if he doesn't perform. But I do believe he's going to bounce back. He's a competitor.”
As he and the No. 16 Tigers (6-3, 4-2) approach senior day against No. 21 Florida (7-2, 5-2) at noon Saturday, White plans to prove his coach right.
“I wanted to go through the whole year without giving up a pass over 10 yards,” White said. “I didn’t want to give up a touchdown. I didn’t want those things to happen, but it happened. But the good thing about it, I get to respond Saturday.”
SEC Nation will broadcast live from inside Tiger Stadium and will last from 9 a.m. to noon, one hour longer than normal, before the Tigers square off with the Gators Saturday.
The SEC Network’s traveling pregame show will have a second set with a jumbo-tron for fan viewing near Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar on Burbank Drive. The show features host Maria Taylor, reporter Laura Rutledge and analysts Paul Finebaum, Tim Tebow and Marcus Spears.
The Gators lead the all-time series 31-28-3, but the Tigers narrowed the gap under Les Miles, going 7-4 including a 35-28 win in Tiger Stadium last year and a 30-27 triumph in Gainesville in 2014.
LSU also won 17-6 in Baton Rouge in 2013. The Tigers’ three-game winning streak is their longest in the series since winning four straight from 1977-80.
LSU and Florida are tied in games played at Tiger Stadium, 16-16. Because this year's game was moved from Gainesville, LSU will have to play at Florida in 2017 and 2018.
These teams have met every year since 1971 and have been designated each other’s permanent cross-divisional opponent.
Brent Musberger (play-by-play), Jesse Palmer (analyst) and Baton Rouge native Kaylee Hartung (sideline) will call the game on the SEC Network ... Florida co-defensive coordinator and former Miami (Florida) head coach Randy Shannon worked with Orgeron at Miami in 1991-92. … When Orgeron was interim coach at Southern California in 2013, Mike Summers was his offensive line coach. Summers coaches the same position at Florida now. … The Gators have made 12 SEC Championship Game appearances since 1992, most of any school. Florida is 7-5 in the championship game; LSU is 4-1.