Before Matt Jones' injury was announced Monday morning, I took Florida's offense to task for letting down a championship-caliber defense. Again.
Jones' injury makes matters even more difficult for an already anemic unit, but losing widouts Trey Burton, Solomon Patton or Quinton Dunbar would've be a more signifcant loss considering the uncertainty of the freshman receivers. But alas, losing a starting tailback (especially for pass protection) is another burden the Gators must overcome.
BATON ROUGE, La -- Deep in the noisy bowls of Tiger Stadium, Gators linebacker Michael Taylor was in no mood to point fingers following No. 22 Florida’s 17-6 loss to No. 6 LSU.
“We didn't hold them enough,” the junior said.
“That's the bottom line.”
Is it though?
Florida’s defense -- ranked No. 2 nationally in total defense entering Saturday’s showdown -- limited a potent Tigers offense to a season-low 327 yards and 17 points. LSU gunslinger Zach Mettenberger completed just nine passes for 152 yards with zero touchdowns and one inexplicable fumble.
The Gators’ defensive line struggled to get off blocks and slow down LSU tailback Jeremy Hill (121 yards), but the unit surrendered just 17 points in a hostile environment.
It wasn’t enough though. Again.
Despite holding a conference opponent under 20 points for the 13th consecutive game, Florida lost for the fourth time in the Will Muschamp era when its suffocating defense yielded 17 points or less.
In all four losses -- including Saturday against LSU -- the Gators have scored zero touchdowns and totaled just 33 points.
“We didn’t create enough explosives down the field and a lot of that was we couldn’t get rid of the football,” Muschamp said. “We were under duress as far as pressure is concerned. There’s no question it’s a huge concern as we move forward.”
The Gators waltzed into Death Valley with their efficiently dull offense, but their methodical attack was no match against a young, fast and aggressive LSU defense.
Florida -- especially its offensive line -- wilted facing LSU’s relentless pressure, conceding four sacks, eight tackles for loss and six registered quarterback hurries...
As for some stats and tidbits that weren't included in the story...
* Before Saturday's game, LSU's defense allowed 5.40 yards per play -- including consecutive games of 7+ yards per play. Florida averaged just 3.53 y/p in the loss.
* The Tigers' young secondary had surrendered 29 passing plays of at least 15+ yards. The Gators attempted just A SINGLE pass of more than 15 yards in the air all game.
* Florida didn't reach the redzone until the fourth quarter.
* The Gators ran the ball on 17-of-24 first down snaps. They averaged 4.5 yards a rush on first down, but just 2.5 yards a pass on seven first down throws.
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