How does this keep happening? Nearly five years to the day since Les Miles dialed up a fake field goal to break the Gators’ hearts in the Swamp, the Tigers’ head coach showed Florida once again why they can never assume the Tigers will just try to kick a field goal. In a game where the Gators’ defense buckled early and finished strong, it seems only fitting that the difference in the game would come down to yet another fake field goal.
After a week full of distractions losing two players, one of which was their starting quarterback, many expected Florida to play a less than complete game. And for all but the second quarter, the Gators played very solid defense against the nation’s sixth ranked team.
While BDN didn’t exactly play its best game of the season surrendering a total of 423 yards, 235 of those yards came in the second quarter alone. LSU’s offense only accrued 69, 46, and 73 yards in the first, third, and fourth quarters respectively. And 16 of those yards in the fourth came on the fake field goal. Another positive for this defense is the fact that they didn’t allow an offensive touchdown in any quarter ther than the second as well. The only score the Tigers had outside of the second quarter was the special teams score on the fake field goal.
Even the second quarter, which was by far the Florida Gators worst single quarter defensively this year, would not have looked nearly so bad if not for 102 yards and a touchdown made off of two busted plays by the secondary. Unfortunately, though, those plays happened and the defense did relinquish all of those yards, but they came back strong after halftime, giving up the aforementioned 119 yards and no touchdowns to the LSU offense in the second half. But the “Mad Hatter” doesn’t care about those stats; he has some stats of his own.
Whether it’s his record of only three losses in home games starting at seven p.m. or running back Leonard Fournette’s stats Saturday of 180 yards and two touchdowns, LSU regrettably had just enough answers for the Gators.
Another stat, one that Gator fans had come to loathe under the Muschamp regime, time of possession felt more crucial than usual in this game. While LSU won the battle of possession, they only surpassed the Gators in this by 34 seconds (30:17 to 29:43). Considering that the Tigers have arguably the best player in college football in Fournette and a suffocating, clock-draining run game, it’s a testament to how hard both sides of the ball played for the Gators to keep this stat even.
Something that I’ve stressed every week is integral to the Gators success this year- synergy between the offense and defense — the Gators needed a nearly perfect balance between the two sides to pull off the upset. Although they weren’t perfect, that balance was what kept them in the game. Possessing the ball for just over 10 minutes of the first quarter gave the Gators the lead by way of strong defense early, solid ball control offense, and some good fortune on a fumbled punt return picked up by Florida.
But it just wasn’t meant to be as Les Miles dug into his bag of tricks from five years ago to make the difference in the game.
What shouldn’t be lost on fans of both sides is the ability of both Brandon and Treon Harris. While Treon Harris played respectably and will improve now that he is the Gators’ starter for the foreseeable future, Brandon Harris was the true surprise. Going 13-19 for 202 yards and two touchdowns, his better-than-expected passing ability caught The Best Defense in the Nation off guard and made them pay early.
Fortunately for the Gators, Defensive Coordinator Geoff Collins is a master at making halftime adjustments and the Gators made the game a Florida-LSU classic decided in ridiculous fashion. “A badge of honor” as Coach Mac called the play, Florida’s grit and heart forced “The Hat” to dig into his seemingly bottomless playbook and pin the Gators with that excruciating “badge.”
- Florida allowed the Tigers a 50% third down conversion rate.
- To start the second half, the Gators’ defense held LSU to three straight three-and-outs.
- The Gators turnover margin is now +9, the best in the SEC.
- The LSU Tigers downed the Gators in Death Valley 35-28 Saturday night.
- The Best Defense in the Nation has a week off to prepare for Georgia on Halloween.