Instant Analysis - Oct. 10
Florida 13 ... LSU 3
Sometimes a coaching
staff's week of preparation can almost be heard while watching a game.
While Florida's coaches probably didn't exactly put
it in these terms, they seemed like they looked at gamefilm of LSU and said, "this defensive line
sucks; we can run on them all day long up the middle."
The LSU defensive front isn't in the same zip code
as the ones that led the way to national
championships and to so much success, and that's why
Florida won 13-3 in a game that wasn't anywhere near
as close as the final score.
To go Neanderthal, but Florida's offensive line
tested LSU's manhood and exposed it (thankfully, not
literally). Dive play up the middle. Dive play up
the middle. Pitch up the middle. Dive play up the
middle. And so on, and so on, and so on. Florida
didn't have to do anything fancy offensively because
its defense dominated as much as its O line did.
The LSU offensive front is mediocre, and it showed.
QB Jordan Jefferson completed 11-of-17 passes, but
he averaged a mere 5.6 yards per completion and did
nothing downfield ... he didn't have the time.
Charles Scott tried to make things happen on his own
running the ball, but against the swarming Florida
D, he didn't have a chance. And the LSU coaches
should've known this.
It seems like Les Miles and his staff are the last
ones to know how their lines are struggling. LSU had
to do something out of the norm and had to do
something out of its comfort zone to beat a champion
like Florida, and that includes going for it on
4th-and-goal from the one instead of kicking a field
goal. LSU didn't play scared, but it didn't play
fearless. And it also got beaten up. The spread
might not be known for being a power offense, but
with the Gators running it in Death Valley, it was a
Brace yourself. The SEC bashing is going to be amped up throughout the month of October.
The Southeastern Conference is an awful lot like Notre Dame. Those who don't genuflect to it typically hate it. Across the country, people love to pick apart the league, which, like it or not, is the best in the country. Now, I know you guys in Big 12, Big Ten, and Pac-10 country were rolling your eyes and shaking your head throughout the Florida-LSU game. "Where the heck are the offenses?," you texted repeatedly to equally perplexed friends. "These are two of the best teams in the country?," you shouted at the dog.
Outside of the South, college football fans won't be the least bit impressed by either the Gators or the Tigers following their showdown in Baton Rouge. That's a given. Defense ruled the day and big offensive plays came at a premium. Not unlike an NFL game between a couple of heavyweights, that's typically what you're going to get when a pair of SEC powerhouses meet. In fact, bank on a similar blueprint if Florida and Alabama meet in Atlanta in December. Sure, they have playmakers in the conference, but the scales still tip in favor of the best defenses, which are chock full of speed and depth.
So go ahead and take your best shot at the SEC in the coming weeks. The league has heard it all before, and has undoubtedly become tone deaf to the rhetoric. When you're on top of the mountain, it gets a little tougher to hear what everyone below you is saying.
1) If others are uncomfortable saying this, it's understandable, but here goes: It doesn't matter that Tim Tebow won this game; it matters that he survived it. It doesn't matter that Urban Meyer won this game; what matters is that he put Tebow on the field in a rather unfortunate display of machismo. It doesn't matter that Florida was the better-coached team, the more prepared team, or the team that left Tiger Stadium still unbeaten and on top of the college football world. This was a sad night in Baton Rouge, a night when the hunger for glory outstripped a young man's well-being. Tebow wasn't cleared to play on Thursday; exactly what happened in the following 48 hours that made him fit to step on the field? It all makes sense in the ways of the world, and according to the small-G "gods" of mammon and the acclaim of fellow men, but it doesn't make sense from a medical standpoint. God bless Tim Tebow; he's an amazing person and competitor, the likes of which I've never seen in 28 years of watching college football. But he wasn't served well tonight. That overshadowed anything else that happened in this game.
2) Normally, a second piece of short-form analysis would appear here, but with the Tebow story in mind, this space will be left unattended in quiet protest. (No, this move won't be replicated in future weeks; it's a one-time deal—spare the hate mail.)
The whole lead-up to Florida's win at LSU was all about Tim Tebow. Would he play? Wouldn't he play? Could he survive the game? Once the 60 minutes were over, it was clear this had nothing to do with Tebow. Florida won this game because of its defense, which was able to control the shaky LSU offense by stopping the Tiger passing game and controlling the LSU running attack, which was supposed to be its staple. Tebow was tentative, and that was to be expected. The Florida offense was hardly at full strength, and its inability to convert fourth downs deep in LSU territory was probably more a result of Tebow's rust than a fatal flaw. It's hard to imagine the Gators' having any real challenge left on the schedule, except a lack of focus, because as long as Florida can play this kind of D every week, nobody in the SEC can stop it – except Alabama, and the Tide won't show up opposite of the Gators until the SEC title game. Tebow will get better as the weeks go on, as he proved against the Tigers, he doesn't need to be all that sharp, thanks to the suffocating Florida defense.