Gators ignoring numbers of LSU defense

The numbers require a second look. LSU has been known for its physical, dominating defenses for a long time. This year, that isn't the case. The Tigers took a big hit on the defensive side of the ball to the NFL Draft after last season, and it has shown this year. The Florida offense is growing in consistency under Tyler Murphy, but it will face an LSU defense unlike the Tigers' recent units.

The Tigers are middle of the pack in most defensive statistics in the Southeastern Conference. They're seventh in scoring defense (24.7), eighth in rushing defense (159.5), fourth in pass defense (207.5) and seventh in total defense (367). For some schools, that numbers might be enough to get by. For a school with the defensive history like LSU, it's a strange look.

They're led by an offense that throws the ball all over the field with quarterback Zach Mettenberger, rejuvenated by first-year offensive coordinator Cam Cameron.

The Florida coaches haven't pointed out the down defensive numbers to the players this week. They've shown the film and pointed out the most talented players, reminding them of the talent that LSU still recruits, even if it is inexperienced.

"They got a lot of young guys, but they're very talented defensively," Will Muschamp said. "They can run, they can strike, they can play. They're young right now, but they're fundamentally sound. They play hard, they play fast, they play physical. And that's the type of defense we will see on Saturday afternoon.

"Everyone goes through (the struggles on defense). They replaced a bunch of really good players that were seniors or came out early for the draft. You see where all of those guys were picked. They had a bunch of good players on their defense last year. I've got great respect for John (Chavis) and the job he does. They're young, but they're extremely talented. They run well, they play physical, they're gonna be fundamentally sound. We expect a good LSU defense on Saturday -- that's for sure."

The tape of the Georgia game shows holes in the LSU secondary that the Gators could exploit this weekend. Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray threw for 298 yards and four touchdowns in that game. While that won't be the plan for Murphy on Saturday, the Gators could find some holes through the air to get their playmakers involved down the field.

"It's exciting," Florida receiver Solomon Patton said about the LSU defensive struggles. "I feel like obviously we have got some big-time opportunities to make plays. We're going to try to take advantage of their defense as much as we can."?

Murphy noted that the struggles of the LSU defense were a surprise to him when he started to get into film study this week. A lot of the surprise comes from how impressive the Tigers were on defense last year in Gainesville.

Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease was quick to point out the players lost after last season, noting that he watches San Francisco 49ers rookie safety Eric Reid's strong play this year and remembers what he did for LSU last season.

With the new players taking over for the drafted group last season, Pease has seen constant improvement.

"I look at game one through where they are now," Pease said. "They have shown improvement. They're kind of settling on who their guys are in these positions, who is kind of quarterbacking the defense back there at the linebacker spot. They're getting more consistent. Their guys are getting better at fundamentals. They're playing faster and faster and faster. You can see them coming on."

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