2011 Predictions & Game Story
Week 6 - Florida at LSU
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Oct. 8 at LSU 41 … Florida 11
CFN Analysis: LSU wasn’t going to let this get interesting. It showed right away with the bomb to Rueben Randle that the game was going to be over before it could get started; it was a statement through in yet another statement game. The offensive line bullied the Florida defensive front, while the defense didn’t let the Gators do anything on a regular basis. There was the one breakdown on the 65-yard touchdown play to Andre Debose, but the LSU D only allowed 148 yards the rest of the way. The Tigers have wins over Oregon, West Virginia, and Florida, and next up is a date at Tennessee. The résumé continues to get better and better.
Florida tried to get creative and tried to see if the old spread might have worked, but without a quarterback, there wasn’t any hope. The LSU defense didn’t respect the deep ball at all, zeroed in against the run, and the game was over before it began. As bad as the offense was, the defense didn’t do anything to pick up the slack getting steamrolled over up front and getting burned badly deep early and short late. Throw in the 12 penalties and the mere nine first downs and 213 yards of total offense, and this game was a wash. There’s still time, though. The Gators still control their own destiny in the SEC, but they need to play stronger against the run and they have to get far more physical in a big hurry.
(AP) BATON ROUGE, La. -- Experience at quarterback wasn't the only advantage top-ranked LSU held over reeling Florida.
Spencer Ware rushed for 109 yards and two scores, each of LSU's senior quarterbacks passed for touchdowns, and the Tigers comfortably defeated 17th-ranked Florida 41-11 on Saturday.
Jarrett Lee gave the Tigers (6-0, 3-0 SEC) the lead for good on their second offensive play, hitting Rueben Randle deep over the middle for a 46-yard touchdown. Jordan Jefferson used a jump pass to Mitch Joseph for another score.
LSU's fast, fierce defense was too much for Florida (4-2, 2-2), which started freshman Jacoby Brissett at quarterback because of injuries to senior John Brantley and freshman Jeff Driskel.
Brissett was intercepted twice on deep throws, once each by safety Brandon Taylor and star cornerback Tyrann Mathieu.
LSU led 17-0 after its first three possessions and was never threatened in what became the sixth double-digit victory in as many games for the Tigers, who have trailed for only 6:33 all season. The Tigers more than doubled the Gators in total yards, 453-213. LSU had 238 yards rushing alone.
Alfred Blue added 70 yards on 14 carries and a late 2-yard TD run to cap the scoring for LSU.
After a week of deception by Florida head coach Will Muschamp, who said Driskel was his likely starter in place of Brantley, the coach instead went with Brissett, who became the first freshman quarterback in Florida history to take his first snap as a starter.
Brissett was able to buy time with his scrambling ability and complete intermittent passes, but struggled to sustain drives. Taylor's interception came on Brissett's seventh career pass.
Brissett finally got Florida in the end zone on a 65-yard connection to Andre Debose, who Mathieu appeared to let run free after shoving him out of bounds and apparently thinking he was out of the play.
Mathieu didn't let it happen again, stepping in front of Brissett's next deep pass for his second interception of the season. That was only the latest defensive highlight for the LSU star, who also has forced four fumbles, and has returned two of his three fumble recoveries for touchdowns this season.
Brissett finished 8 of 14 for 94 yards and the lone score. Driskel, who injured his ankle in relief of Brantley during the Gators' 38-10 loss to Alabama a week earlier, did not play at all. Instead, Muschamp tried rotating in receiver Trey Burton and Chris Rainey as single-wing quarterbacks.
None of it amounted to much against an LSU defense that entered the game ranked ninth nationally in total defense and scoring defense, despite playing three ranked teams away from Tiger Stadium -- including prolific Oregon in Dallas -- in its first five games.
LSU found the end zone on its first two possessions. Following up the quick strike to Randle with a methodical eight-play drive that included seven runs and covered 57 with the help of an offside penalty. Ware capped it with a 2-yard TD run.
LSU appeared to have scored its third TD when punter Brad Wing covered 52 yards on a fake late in the first quarter, but raised his arms moments before crossing the goal line. That drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, which took the score off the board. LSU retained possession, but had to settle for Drew Alleman's 35-yard field goal.
Wing still got credit for a 44-yard run, which made him the second leading rusher of the second half behind Ware's 63.
Ware scored his second touchdown on an 8-yard run in the second quarter, helping LSU take a 24-3 halftime lead.
Florida (4-1) at LSU (5-0) Oct. 8, 3:30, CBS
Here’s The Deal … 19 seconds into last week’s game against Alabama, all appeared right with Florida’s world.
The Gators came into the game playing well and on the upswing in Will Muschamp’s first season, and after John Brantley connected with Andre Debose for a 65-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead against a supposedly impenetrable Tide defense, Florida football became Florida football.
And then came the other 59:41.
Florida managed just one field goal the rest of the way, Alabama’s offense dominated on the ground, and Brantley was knocked out with a knee injury to throw the season into a tailspin. This is a very young, very green, very talented Gator team that’s going through the lump-taking process against the stars in the SEC, and after the Tide provided the first whack, this might be the follow up.
No team in America is playing with more of an attitude than LSU. The Tigers bullied Mississippi State, ran over Oregon, and rolled through West Virginia to come up with a terrific résumé, and this could be yet another confidence-builder after going through the motions to beat a bad Kentucky team last week.
Oklahoma might be great, Wisconsin might look unstoppable, and Alabama has been dominant, but LSU has a true national champion look that only comes from coming up with tremendous road wins and with beating an elite team like Oregon. With a pounding running game, a nasty run defense, and a secondary that can make a case for being the best unit among any at any position in college football, everything is working.
Unlike previous years, this Tiger team isn’t getting by with any smoke or mirrors, it’s not getting any wacky miracles, and it hasn’t needed to do anything but line up and be better than everyone else. Florida is one of only two teams left on the schedule with the same talent level – Bama being the other – the Tigers are more mature. At least they have been so far.
If LSU plays like it has over the first part of the season, it shouldn’t have any problems. This is still Florida, though, and the defense is still good, the speed on offense is still great, and the coaching staff is top shelf. The Tigers will have to do more than put on the uniform, and no matter what happens, the SEC and national title picture will get a bit clearer.
The Tigers came through in the clutch last year for a four-point win in The Swamp in a dramatic game that erased the creepiness of the 2009 Florida 13-3 win – the game after the Tim Tebow concussion - in Death Valley. 4-5 in their last nine SEC games, and with a date at Auburn coming up, Florida needs a big, splashy win over a top team. It’ll take an ugly one, too.
Why Florida Might Win: Jordan Jefferson.
Lost on all the drama and all the controversy surrounding Jefferson’s legal issues and his return to the team is that Jarrett Lee is playing well enough to take the team to the national championship. He has only thrown one pick so far with seven touchdown passes, and while he hasn’t been consistent from game to game, he’s doing exactly what the offense needs him to do. And now Jefferson is back.
You never mess with a streak, and if something in football is working really, really well, you don’t disturb the groove even a little bit, but Jefferson is now talking about wanting his job back, and while it’s a stretch to say he’s making waves, it’s a distraction for a team that played ultra-focused for the first five games.
The LSU offense isn’t working that well. The passing game doesn’t crank out big yards and the running game has been more solid than sensational. The defense and special teams have driven the first part of the season, and the offense has taken advantage of the breaks. Florida got gouged by Alabama’s offensive line last week, but the passing game didn’t work with AJ McCarron completing just 12-of-25 passes. Whether it’s Lee or Jefferson, the Tigers aren’t going to win this game through the air against an air tight secondary. The front seven is better than it played against Alabama.
Why LSU Might Win: The sharks will be circling. Even at 100% full strength the Florida offense would have a tough time finding decided schematic advantage against the LSU defense, and now without Brantley, it’ll be tee-off time into the backfield.
The pass rush has been terrific, ranking second in the nation in tackles for loss averaging 8.8 per game, and with true freshman Jeff Driskel under center, the Tigers will send everyone and Les Miles’ hat into the backfield to apply pressure. Of course, offensive coordinator Charlie Weis knows this, and he’ll build into the gameplan several quick hitters and dump-offs to get the ball in space to his speedsters, Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps. The problem will be the same one Florida had against Alabama; the defensive back seven can fly, too.
The LSU secondary gave up 463 passing yards to West Virginia’s Geno Smith, but if it’s possible, those were a soft 463 with the Tigers in control for most of the game. The secondary has been devastating, ranking tenth in the nation in pass efficiency defense even with the big number hung on the board by the Mountaineers. Florida’s offense has to take shots down the field, and LSU would love nothing more than to have a newbie QB taking a few chances on deep passes.
What To Watch Out For: Alright, Jeff Driskel. You have a scholarship for a reason.
He’s the perfect fit for the Weis offense with 6-4, 238-pound size, a tremendous arm, and just enough mobility to not be a stick in the mud. He’s a bomber with the touch to connect on the short to midrange throws with accuracy, and the gun to push it deep and stretch the field. Considered the top quarterback recruit in the nation by many, he could’ve gone anywhere. Now that the through-the-roof hype is over, he has to actually produce in on the field.
It’s a stretch to say that the expectations are at a Tebow-like level, but they’re not far off. He’s that good, but he’s still just a freshman who completed 2-of-6 passes against Alabama and had the 1,000-yard, deer-in-the-headlights stare. But now the Florida coaching staff has had a week to prepare him, and now he should be ready to at least be decent.
LSU’s Tyrann Mathieu is locking up the Thorpe Award by the week, but running mate Morris Claiborne is having just as strong a year, even if he’s not coming up with the same highlight-reel plays. As a kick returner, the junior is averaging 31.6 yards per pop, highlighted by a backbreaker against West Virginia, while making 22 tackles on the year with two picks. The 6-0, 177-pound former quarterback has excellent range, shutdown coverage skills, and blazing, Louisiana state championship 10.76, 100-meter speed.
What Will Happen: This probably won’t be the blowout everyone is expecting. LSU isn’t going to put it away until midway through the second half, but that’ll be partly because it won’t do anything crazy. With Driskel under center for the Gators, LSU has to keep it conservative, not make any big mistakes, and let the defense and special teams do all the work. Florida will have to press a bit, the offense won’t go anywhere, and the Tigers will be able to ease their way to a better-than-it’ll-look win.
CFN Prediction: LSU 27 … Florida 13
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LSU -13.5 O/U: 41
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