The Tiger offense took a break from posting video game-type numbers, and the defense turned in its best performance of the season. LSU held Florida to just 240 yards of offense, and despite possessing the ball for more than 34 minutes, the Gators only managed a pair of field goals.
Riding momentum from a solid second-half performance last week against Mississippi State, LSU held the Gators in check throughout Saturday's contest. With plenty of pressure from the defensive line, Florida's longest play from scrimmage was only a 20-yard completion on the Gator's final possession.
"That's how it's supposed to look," said LSU coach Les Miles. "An average scoring night — but the defense won, offense won and special teams won. At the end of the game if that recipe continues to hold up, we'll be awfully good."
The defense made a statement on its first series of the game. Florida racked up 60 yards on 13 plays before finally stalling in LSU territory, opting for a 44-yard field goal on 4th-and-1.
The next five Gator possessions all had the same result — a punt.
"When you look at how we played today, everybody truly bought into each other," said Anthony Johnson, who had one of LSU's four sacks. "Coach Chavis put us in great positions. Everyone played so selflessly. We were out on the field playing as one unit. That is when we reach our potential."
Though the LSU offense didn't have a productive night compared to its other games this season, the Tigers did just enough to hold off Florida.
Following the Gators' opening field goal, LSU responded with a 70-yard touchdown drive capped off by a one-yard plunge by J.C. Copeland.
That turnover was a blemish on a mostly ho-hum performance by Mettenberger. He completed 9-of-17 passes for 152 yards with no touchdowns.
"Zach didn't have his best night," Miles said, "but he didn't have a bad night either….That happens. As ugly as it is, that happens. But he threw the ball when we needed him to. He played extremely well, and he gave us every opportunity for victory."
Mettenberger did rebound from that fumble, leading the Tigers on a touchdown drive with their next possession. Copeland set up the score with a 10-yard run that put LSU one yard from the end zone, and freshman QB Anthony Jennings sneaked across the goal line to make it 14-3 at halftime.
Scoring came at a premium in the second half, as each team only tacked a field goal for the remainder of the contest.
Florida did march it inside the LSU 10-yard line early in the fourth quarter. But the Gators only managed consecutive runs for negative yards before an incomplete pass on third led to the field goal.
That three-pointer did cut the LSU lead to only eight, but the Tigers answered with a field goal of their own to make a two-possession game with 7:58 to go.
Florida had one last opportunity to cut into the deficit, starting at its 25-yard line. The Gators converted a pair of fourth downs on the drive — one on a fake punt — to reach the LSU red zone.
But again the LSU defense stiffened up, sacking Florida QB Tyler Murphy on third and fourth down to turn the ball back over to the offense, which simply ran out the clock to secure the victory.
Though it had the same result as LSU's first five victories, this one just had a different style.
"I'd like to win prolifically," Miles said. "It would be a wonderful thing to win every game by 21 points. That, to me, would be ideal. But was I happy tonight? You betcha."
For more from LSU's 17-6 victory against Florida, check out the TSD Game Thread for more notes, thoughts and commentary.
Game Thread: LSU vs. Florida