LSU’s Defense Dominates Florida
For the first time this season, LSU relied on its defense to carry the team and win a game. In years past, that was the norm; this season their explosive offense had been outscoring the competition and putting up big numbers both rushing and passing. The win may have solidified the Tigers as a complete team capable of winning games with either its offense or defense.
Below are five major takeaways from the Tigers' victory over the Gators:
Defense Carries Tigers
The LSU defense was a potential liability prior to this contest. They had surrendered an unusual amount of yards and points the last two games heading into the showdown with Florida and were prone to giving up big plays all season long.
Florida managed just two field goals and produced only 240 yards of total offense. After scoring their first field goal on their opening possession, the Gators were then outscored 17-3 with their second field goal not coming until the fourth quarter. This was perhaps the Tigers' most impressive defensive performance of the season considering the competition.
Punishing Ground Game
Jeremy Hill led all rushers with 19 carries for 121 yards, averaging 6.4 yards per carry against a squad that was one of the best in the country against the run. Coming into this game, Florida was holding its opponents to just 65 yards per contest and had allowed only three rushing touchdowns. LSU ran for 175 yards and two touchdowns.
The stout Gators defense consistently gashed the Tigers offensive line between the tackles. LSU averaged 4.5 yards per rush and Zach Mettenberger was never sacked.
Mettenberger Struggles, But Manages Game Well
It wasn’t his most dynamic performance, but Mettenberger still completed more than half of his pass attempts and didn’t throw any interceptions. Aside from an unforced fumble early in the second quarter, Mettenberger didn’t give the Gators many opportunities to climb back in the game.
He led his team to 21 first downs, converted 5 of 9 third downs, and LSU only had to punt three times. While he didn’t put the kind of numbers he had been posting all season, it’s important to keep in mind Florida is one of the top defenses in the country.
Florida’s Tyler Murphy Struggles
Gators quarterback Tyler Murphy never seemed comfortable throughout Saturday’s contest. He was seemingly under constant pressure and was sacked four times. The junior completed 15 of his 27 pass attempts for just 115 yards.
Where Were The Fans?
There were a noticeable amount of empty seats high in the end zone sections of Tiger Stadium on Saturday afternoon. Despite the fact the game was a sellout, several thousand fans didn’t attend the actual game. This could be attributed to the tendency of most Baton Rouge games being played at night when LSU fans are at their best, and loudest, under the lights. Perhaps fans just aren’t used to all the heat and sunlight of a 2:30 p.m. kickoff.