This Defense Does Not Rest

Tim Tebow was questionable right up to the end of the Gators pre-game meal. No matter what the final decision on the Gator QB was going to be, the Gator defense had a job to do. It was the defense that had to step up and make things easier for the Gators' limited offense and the Gator defense did exactly that.

Florida throttled LSU quarterback Jordan Jefferson and the Tigers' offense and earned a Lions share (pun intended) of the credit for Saturday's win in Baton Rouge. The win improved the Gators to 5-0 on the year and made a heckuva statement about this team in the way it played against the nation's No. 4 team on the road, at night with an injured star QB.

Florida's defenders held LSU to less than 200 yards of total offense (162) with LSU gaining just 66 on the ground and 96 through the air. The much-discussed showdown between the tall LSU receivers and the Florida cornerbacks never materialized as Jefferson rarely had time to throw and when he did Brandon LaFell and Terrance Toliver were not open.

Two Key Possessions

Florida's defensive effort really came down to two critical possessions when the Gator defense outperformed the LSU offense when it matters most.

The first came in the second quarter with the Gators leading 3-0. LSU drove from its own 21 yard line and – helped by two personal foul penalties – had a 1st-and-goal just inside the Florida 10-yard line.

Two running plays gained eight yards, but when a third down run by Charles Scott was stuffed LSU opted for a tying field goal. It was a strategic victory in that it kept LSU from taking the lead. It was also a psychological victory over the man who went for it on fourth down five times two years ago. Les Miles wasn't willing to risk a scoring opportunity against this defense and he was right. LSU never had another play in scoring range.

The second key possession came after Florida's Caleb Sturgis missed a chip shot field goal keeping the score 10-3 with eight minutes left in the first half. This was a key opportunity for LSU since the Tigers were still trailing by just a single score. Florida's defense stepped up with perhaps its best series of the night, sacking Jefferson on first and third downs and leaving LSU with a 4th-and-22 situation on their own eight yard line. Even though LSU got the ball back a few minutes later with the score the same, this was the stop that Florida had to have and they got it.

The rest of the game was virtually academic once Sturgis atoned for his miss with a 34-yard FG with 7:37 to play. I doubt there was anyone in Tiger Stadium – or anywhere else for that matter – who thought that LSU could score twice on the Gator defense. Not even a Tebow interception at 4:55 could change that perception.

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The Gator defense entered Saturday night's game leading the nation in total defense (212.8 yards/game) and were second in rushing (92.8 yards/game) and scoring defense (7.3 points/game). Well they lowered all three numbers with their dominant performance in "Death Valley". Through five Gators the Gators are now allowing 87.4 rushing yards, 115.2 passing yards for a total defense of 202.6 yards a game. Florida has held its first five opponents to just two touchdowns and 6.4 points a game.

I don't know if this defense can be as good as the 2006 unit because the defensive line simply has not played as well as that unit did. But the defensive line had its best game Saturday and with Lawrence Marsh getting healthier and Omar hunter appearing to be coming of age, this defense will be a tremendous challenge for any and all opponents left on the Florida schedule.


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