Taylor hoping for improved run defense

The Florida defense has built its reputation on toughness and stopping the run. That wasn't the case on Saturday in Baton Rouge. The Gators allowed 175 yards on the ground, including 121 yards to LSU running back Jeremy Hill, while the Tigers dominated the line of scrimmage and the clock. Florida linebacker Michael Taylor is hoping to change that against Missouri.

The heavy run game plan from LSU didn't surprise the Florida defense. They knew the Tigers would want to start their ground game before unleashing the high-powered passing attack. Unfortunately for the Gators, LSU didn't need to throw the ball often. They dominated the ground and didn't go away from it.

"It was disappointing that we couldn't stop what we knew they wanted to do," Michael Taylor said. "They came in and they established the run and that pretty much controlled most of the game for them. They really fed a lot of their offense off of the run -- play-action, taking shots deep.

"When they establish the run like that, they're a multi-dimensional team, they can do both things. That's difficult for a team to stop when you don't know what's coming."

While the Florida defense spent its energy trying to stop the run, they couldn't get any pressure on LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger. The Gators didn't record a sack on the day and barely made Mettenberger move in the pocket while throwing for 152 yards.

The box score shows 327 yards of offense for LSU, but with the Gators inability to stop the rushing attack or get to Mettenberger, it felt like even more yardage.

"We were disappointed with a lot of the things that happened Saturday, getting pressure on him," Taylor said. "Getting pressure on him was one of the things we wanted to do. I think we maybe hit him two, three times, but we didn't get him on the ground or get him moving and get him to be uncomfortable enough.

"He just sat back there in the pocket, and when he wanted to throw he threw it. That's something we have to correct on our part."

The run game poses a new challenge on Saturday. The Gators will face Missouri's second best run offense in the SEC, averaging 239.3 yards on the ground every game this year. On paper, it seems like a matchup that could benefit Florida, which is allowing just 83.3 yards per game on the ground, but the LSU game plan made it look like the opposite.

However, the issues in Baton Rouge came from players that just didn't get off enough blocks to make plays to stop the run game. The coaches and players felt like they were in the right defense. They just didn't execute it well enough. And it has to change on Saturday.

"We've got to execute the game plan. The plan is going to be in effect," Taylor said. "The execution is the main thing about it. We go out there and execute, we should have no problem. Whether a team wants to put six O-linemen in the game, have only five in and run it with a lot of wide receivers. It doesn't matter. As long as we execute the game plan, we'll be successful."

The rushing attack for the Tigers will look different with quarterback James Franklin out for the game. However, Maty Mauk still presents a challenge. The redshirt freshman has an advanced knowledge of the offense and should be able to keep the rushing success alive.

A different quarterback won't change the scheme.

"They're going to run their offense," Taylor said. "I'm pretty sure they recruit a quarterback that's going to fit their offense as we recruit a quarterback that's going to fit our offense. I'm pretty sure he's going to have the same characteristics, same qualities as Franklin did.

"It'll be exciting to see what he has. We don't have as much film on him as we do with Franklin, but the game plan will be in effect. We'll just have to execute. No quarterback likes to get hit. So therefore, we're going to have to hit him."

As the Gators work to put the LSU loss behind them this weekend, the work to make that happened actually began in the locker room of Tiger Stadium on Saturday in Baton Rouge. The players and coaches all talked about the team's goals remaining in front of them.

Florida still controls its destiny to make it to Atlanta for the SEC Championship game, which has been the team's goal since they started fall camp.

"That's always good," Taylor said. "You know when you can control your own destiny you don't have to hope and pray for somebody else to lose. Knowing that if you win every game that you can reach all your goals -- that's always a good thing. We were in this position last year. We were in this position the year before that.

"We've blown it two years in a row, so like we've all been saying, we're not going to blow it this year. We're going to take advantage of the opportunities that we have this year and not blow them like we did in the past."

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