Head coach Les Miles was right. Prior to LSU’s 17-6 win over Florida, he repeatedly dismissed the idea that the Tigers’ (6-1, 3-1) defense was as vulnerable as it had looked recently. Last week, they validated his assessment.
LSU defenders were in Gators quarterback Tyler Murphy‘s face all game, batting down passes, racking up sacks and forcing errant throws. The Tigers kept their opponent out of the end zone for the first time all season and only yielded 240 yards and two field goals.
LSU, which had been scoring 488.8 yards and 45.5 points per game, had a much harder time moving the ball and scoring against a Florida defense rated among the nation’s best. QB Zach Mettenberger and his top targets – receivers Odell Beckham and Jarvis Landry – had mediocre numbers. But the Tigers were able to grind out enough tough yards on the ground to emerge victorious, led by Jeremy Hill’s 121 yards on 19 carries.
LSU’s 175 rushing yards are easily the most given up by the Gators this year. That, combined with the gritty defensive performance, suggests the Tigers just might be tough enough to take down No. 1 Alabama in Tuscaloosa Nov. 9.
On Monday, we also learned Christopher Columbus was an Italian – at least according to the ever-quotable Miles. Ol’ Lester had this to say about Columbus Day:
“All those of you that know Italians, that like Italians, or are people that might venture onto a ship and travel to explore and find new lands, this is your day. It’s not St. Patty’s Day. That’s a different day entirely.”
What to look for in Week 8: LSU’s offense should take flight again after being somewhat grounded by Florida. The Tigers’ next opponent, Ole Miss, ranks near the middle or bottom in the SEC in nearly every defensive statistical category. Ole Miss will also be without star freshman defensive lineman Robert Nkemdiche, who suffered a hamstring pull last week.
One area that LSU should really exploit the Rebels is third down plays. The Tigers are No. 1 in the SEC with a 58 percent conversion rate, while Ole Miss ranks last in the conference defensively on third downs, allowing conversions 44.3 percent of the time.