Special Teams Key in Last Gator Win over LSU

In each of the last two seasons, the winner of Florida/LSU went on to win the national championship. It's a pretty important game for both teams on the schedule and Urban Meyer remembers the win from 2006 like it was yesterday.

Like most of Florida's big wins, the win in '06 was filled with big plays, especially on the special teams.

"I remember it like it was yesterday," Meyer said. "We had Wondy Pierre-Louis tackle a guy inside the five-yard line for a huge change in field position. You had Ray McDonald force a fumble and Brandon Siler got it. You had Eric Wilber have a one step 57-yard punt and a play later we intercepted a pass. Then you had Riley Cooper get a safety on a kickoff. The special teams' performances were probably the best I've ever seen."

It's no secret that Meyer puts a huge emphasis on special teams.

"Special teams are 33 percent of the game that's the way I look at it," Meyer said. "It's equal to offense and the defense."

The Gator special teams have been pretty good this season, but the offense has been inconsistent. The causes for offensive struggles vary game-to-game, but in the win against Arkansas, it was the penalties on the offensive line. It's something that's been addressed since Saturday.

"On one we were lined up too deep," Meyer said. "We tell them not to line up deep. It's the first call we've had like that. Normally the line judge will come over and tell me the tackle is too deep. There was no warning. The hand in the facemask was one and the holding on Mike Pouncey. He was out of position. We've addressed each one and that's all you can do."

Percy hasn't been practicing while he's protecting a sore ankle. Kestahn Moore and Emmanuel Moody were also out, but Meyer expects Moore to play this weekend, while it will probably be Kentucky for Moody. Jim Tartt is still nursing his sore shoulder, but he's getting closer and Marcus Gilbert is expected back tomorrow after some limited practice time on Tuesday.

After struggling a bit in the first half on Saturday, the Gator defense clamped down a bit in the second half. One reason for their play could be attributed to linebacker Brandon Spikes. Meyer said the defense plays to the level of their star.

"He's had some great games," Meyer said. "I don't think he played a great game this weekend. I think he'll play great this weekend. He's practicing well. He is like every other player. When they practice well they play well. He knows he didn't play very well."

Meyer spent a lot of time watching the LSU offense today and said like most teams, the key to success is stopping the run.

"They have a very good team," he said. "When we're successful we stop the run. Tennessee had a really good power run and this is a power run team. We're going to have to box them in there and make them throw a bit."

In addition to LSU's great rushing attack led by the SEC's leading rusher Charles Scott, Florida has to be ready for Tiger head coach Les Miles' bag of tricks.

"We just have to stop him," Meyer said. "You know what's going to happen. They ran a fake field goal against us a year ago. We just have to cross every ‘T' and dot every ‘I'."

LSU defensive lineman Ricky Jean-Francois made comments earlier this week that they would try to knock Tim Tebow out of the game if they got the chance. While Meyer is taking a nonchalant attitude publicly about the comment, he's been clear where he stands on that kind of talk.

"There's no place for that," he said. "When you hear one of our guys say something like that, we take them out of the media. You know what I think happens, a guy says give me something. They stick a microphone in a 19-year old's face and say give me something. I don't care at all. I just wish that stuff wouldn't happen."


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