GatorZone.com Senior Writer
BATON ROUGE, La. -- No one will ever accuse the Florida defense of setting its standards too low.
“We didn’t hold them enough to win the game,” Gators inside linebacker Mike Taylor said Saturday night after 10th-ranked LSU’s 17-6 win at Tigers Stadium. “That’s the bottom line.”
That’s certainly one of looking at it.
The Gator way.
The Tigers and their red-hot hot-shot quarterback Zach Mettenberger started the day averaging 45.5 points and 488.8 yards per game. Against the Gators, they finished with season-lows of 17 points and 327 yards.
In the eyes of Coach Will Muschamp and his defense, too many.
There’s no question, the Tigers dominated both lines of scrimmage. The fact they were able to do to the UF front what no team had done in some time was a bit of surprise, given the Gators were allowing just 65 yards rushing per game. The Tigers gashed the Gators for 175 yards on 39 carries, with tailback Jeremy Hill good for 121 on 19 attempts, making him the first opposing back in 11 games -- since Georgia’s Todd Gurley’s 121 last October -- to eclipse 100 against the UF defense.
“We can win shootouts and we can win tough, physical games,” Hill said. “That’s what kind of game it was today. It was a tough game. Each team’s running game had to be successful for them to win the game and I think ours was a little more successful. It was a hard-nosed game.”
The kind the Gators (and their coach) really, really like ... which surely made the result even more grating on the flight back to Gainesville.
“Yeah, they kind of beat us at our own game,” defensive tackle Damien Jacobs said.
LSU ranked ninth in the SEC in rushing (197.3 yards per game), but they weren’t supposed to be able to push the Gators around like they did Saturday.
The problem wasn’t missed assignments as much as Florida’s front seven getting locked up and turned.
“They got movement up front and our guys didn’t get off blocks,” Muschamp said. “There are going to be situations when you play a team like this -- like last week [against Arkansas] and later on in the year -- where you have to get off blocks and back off some tackles. Our guys knew that coming in. We didn’t do it enough.”
The most egregious sequence came in the fourth quarter after the Gators squandered an excellent scoring chance, with a first down at the LSU 7, by running three plays and losing three yards. They settled for a short field goal that made the score 14-6.
A one-possession game. The Florida defense needed a stop. Needed to bow up.
On first down, Hill went for 11 yards. Three plays later, he went for seven more. Then he broke free for 26 to the UF 19, setting up a field goal that countered the Florida 3-pointer -- and with just 7:58 remaining.
“Being physical up front, that’s something we pride ourselves on,” Taylor said. “So it’s painful that we lost the way we lost.”