Gators' defense surprised, adjusted, moving on

This game was a little different for the Florida defense. Unlike the Tennessee game where they were trying to deliver knock out blows to tackle, the defense was caught out of position too many times in the first against LSU and the Tigers were able to roll up 28 points. At halftime they made corrections, and now feel like they are better for it.

Task number one in playing LSU was stopping Heisman Trophy candidate running back Leonard Fournette. Averaging over 200 yards a game coming in, the Gators knew he would get yards, but limiting the huge runs was key. He ended up tallying 180 on the day and that is significant, but he had to earn those on his 31 carries and it was an admirable, albeit not great job of doing that.

But, the passing game was the surprise. Florida should have had the advantage on the back end of the defense against a previously lackluster LSU passing offense, but Brandon Harris was able to ring up the boys for over 200 passing yards in the first half including a last minute scoring drive that gave them a 28-14 halftime lead.

Marcus Maye was caught on one of the long plays. A scramble by Harris that Maye got turned around for a long completion and touchdown. The Gators were shaking their heads heading into the locker room at halftime.

“It was frustrating,” Maye said shortly after the game. “They gave us some different stuff. They got the quarterback out of the pocket. They got us on the scramble pass and the flea flicker. It is stuff we should have been prepared for, aware of, but they caught us at the right moment.

“We knew we were going to get something, just didn’t know when it was going to come. They tried to catch is by surprise and they did and connected on a few.”

Florida made some critical adjustments on defense in the half in both stopping the run and the pass. LSU had just one scoring drive that actually ended in a fake field goal for a touchdown. The rest of the half Florida kept them in check.

“We got used to the tempo of the game and flow of the game,” Maye said of the change. “We made some adjustments at halftime. We knew what was at stake in the second half. Once we could anchor down we gave ourselves a chance.

“We adjusted some of the power runs they were doing up front. Once the defense settled in and the emotions were out, we were fine.”

As far as stropping Leonard Fournette, the man is just a beast and has a very formidable offensive line leading the way. Florida looked to be in position most of the night, but he is a player that usually takes more than one to bring him down.

“We knew what type of back he was,” Maye said. “We hit him every play and drove him back a few times. We tried to put as many hats on him as possible.”

And Harris really had a good game making some key throws and doing some things that good quarterbacks do.

“We knew what type of quarterback he was,” Maye said. “There were just some coverages where we didn’t win our 1-on-1’s. He hit on a few plays like the flea flicker and got his confidence going and he was passing the ball well.”

The adjustments and second half play should have Gator fans feeling better about things. Maye says the defense will get it right moving forward.

“We’re fine,” he said. “We will watch the film and get back to the drawing board. We still have our destination in front of us. Monday, we’ll get right back at it.”

There is no rushing to Atlanta to play for the SEC Title just yet. The Gators control their own destiny in the conference race, but there are still three conference games left to play.

“We have to come with it with our schedule ahead of us,” Maye said. “We’ll take it one day at a time, and one week at a time.”


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