A couple of preliminary things. If I were going to do subjective rankings again, LSU was probably going to move down even with a win since I was surprised by Auburn’s loss to Arkansas (and Washington may well lose to Oregon). I thought the final score in that one was going to be the opposite. I’ve also updated the LSU/Florida entry to my rivalry series.
As to this season’s game, I was encouraged by a field goal on the opening drive, but it went almost all downhill offensively from there.
Instead of LSU QB Zach Mettenberger getting better, he seems to have gotten worse since the first couple of weeks of the season. Then he finally makes a good play, and the officials reverse a call from a play being dead to being a fumble with Florida recovering. I didn’t think this was possible, and I further don’t believe there was irrefutable video evidence that the play should not have been ruled dead. Regardless, I never thought it was possible to be credited with a fumble recovery after the whistle blew.
The announcers (Gary Danielson and Verne Lundquist) of course didn’t see any problem with what the refs did. They also didn’t regard the 56-yard completion as a third-down conversion, saying LSU was 0 for 9 at one point (before getting another first down on a screen pass). LSU also got a first down after a third down as a result of a penalty. So yes, LSU was poor on third downs, but there were two situations in which they had first downs; but they’re not being counted, so the 1/13 stat is misleading.
I’m not trying to say it was all about the call even though let’s say I’m skeptical. The way LSU was playing, they would have probably only gotten a field goal, making the final score 14-9 instead. It doesn’t always work that way, but that’s how I think it would have happened.
There was just too much pressure on the defense, especially given that the Tigers had the ball inside the 5 and settled for a field goal and then had the ball inside the 25 briefly before it was awarded to the Gators. Make that a touchdown and a field goal instead and I think they could have made the 16 points stand up.
Mettenberger needs to be more accurate and the receivers need to be more forgiving, that was a problem in the Auburn game as well, but the problems running the ball was really LSU’s undoing, I thought. Granted, it’s harder to run when you can’t spread the defense out with a passing game, but the running game completely lacked any creativity. And even though there were different backs, they all looked pretty much the same. I would also note that Florida was coming off of a bye week, so LSU needed to show something a little different.
Hard to believe, but LSU actually gained a total of 200 yards, 158 of them in the air, but with 25 passing attempts, that’s not too good. The Tigers averaged less than two yards per rush.
We blew our shot at a national championship last season, and it’s not looking as if it can happen this season either, but nothing says one tough road loss in early October is always fatal. The loser of an LSU-Florida game has not made the SEC championship game since 2003, when it was won by LSU (game played 10/11/03). LSU would win the BCS championship as well that season. The Tigers also won the SEC in 2001 after losing to Florida. It is now 54 straight seasons that LSU has suffered at least one loss. Going undefeated is one guaranteed “wait till next year” situation.
But before we worry about any of that, we have the visor coming to Baton Rouge next week. South Carolina has beaten LSU only twice in 19 games (1930 and 1994, by 1 point each time), but this looks like a good opportunity for the Gamecocks to win their third. If I get around to it, I’ll look for the rivalry blog I wrote about LSU and South Carolina/Steve Spurrier.