In what should be the last tough game for LSU before their usual SEC West showdown with Alabama, that in recent years seems to be the deciding factor of national championships, the Tigers proved their defense is good enough to keep them from avoiding another loss this season, even if their most recent opposition was ranked but doesn’t play like one.
The Florida Gators have picked up their second loss of the season, scoring only six points in a 17-6 loss to LSU. All the talk about being actually better without Jeff Driskel went out the window as Tyler Murphy threw for only 115 yards and his ground attack gained only 2.8 yards per carry, while LSU played a bit more old-school than what we’ve gotten accustomed to from SEC teams.
Jeremy Hill had his fourth 100-rushing yards game of the season, and Zach Mettenberger was hardly used in comparison to past weeks, going up against a tougher defense than usual. He attempted only 17 passes, and looked a lot like the player from last year, completing only nine passes for 152 yards. His running game however, led by Hill with 121 yards, gained 175 yards, scoring two touchdowns through J.C. Copeland and Anthony Jennings.
The talk after the game was about winning and losing ugly. The Gators have made it their M.O. over the last two seasons, suffering from a drastic drop in their offensive talent from years past, relying almost completely on their defense to carry them. This season, things have gotten worse, and their defense isn’t quite as elite as in the past. They’re still good enough to sort through most of the schedule without getting beaten, but not against good teams, in and outside the SEC.
As for LSU, this was some proof that their whole stylish, pass-heavy approach earlier this season isn’t the only thing they can do. Winning ugly is something necessary if they’re going to beat Alabama and take charge of the SEC West, and by focusing on playing smash mouth football, usually a trademark of the SEC in previous years, maybe they can get out of that second-place seat they’ve taken for the last few years.
It also has something to do with Florida still not allowing a passing touchdown this season. Les Miles didn’t try and force Metternberger to beat that stat, and focused on simply physically winning the game, something LSU are still capable of doing, despite the younger defense compared to previous seasons.
I think they’re maturing. I think they understand what they’re supposed to do. Had we hit a couple of more passes, we would have thrown a lot more. The more time we are getting together with this defense, the better we are becoming. It is just taking some time and I think the evidence is there now.
LSU now have the sliding Ole Miss to think of next week, and then an easy couple of weeks before Alabama: Furman and a bye week, having to face the Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa. Knowing they have what it takes to play a different kind of style and not just try and keep up with the Tide’s offense is a huge boost to a team that no one took seriously in terms of being a national title contender until now.