REPORT CARD: Florida 23, LSU 10

GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Momentum. For LSU, the word was as dirty last Saturday as any four-letter curse any Tiger fan ever hurled at an opposing team in Death Valley.

On more than one occasion against Florida, LSU had an opportunity to quiet "The Swamp" faithful and injure the psyche of the Gators. Instead, the Tigers gift wrapped turnovers, allowed Florida to hang around early, allowed the Gators to take a lead into halftime and ultimately all but gave up any legitimate chance at a shot at the SEC Championship, a BCS Bowl Game and a National Championship.


Just as the Tigers seemed to find their identity in the weeks following their bitter loss at Auburn, they seemed to go schizophrenic at Florida. There was more than enough blame to go around in the Tigers' second SEC loss of the season. But unlike in LSU's first loss, there was no instant replay, no referee or replay official to hold responsible for the defeat.


The only color stripes the guilty were wearing in "The Swamp" were purple and gold.


Two road games, two losses. The remainder of the season doesn't seem to hold much promise for the Tigers' prospects as it pertains to the road. Tennessee looks nothing like the team that lost to Vanderbilt at home last year, and Arkansas has now proven that they are capable of previously unthinkable feats. Chief among them, going to Auburn and doing something LSU couldn't do – beating the Tommy Tuberville Tigers.





Without Will Arnold the Tigers came out and scored on their first possession of the game to quiet Florida's homecoming crowd. LSU actually posted positive rushing yards in the early going, and a new wrinkle appeared as Early Doucet lined up at quarterback in the shotgun to take a couple of snaps and give the Gators' defense something to think about.


But there were way too many miscues.


Faced with a chance to retake the lead, the Tigers fumbled at Florida's goal line. There was a holding penalty that wiped out a Craig Davis touchdown reception prior to that.


Then there were dropped passes by wide receivers and running backs, two interceptions that came well before LSU was playing catch up and one that was caused by the Gators' defense when the Tigers were still holding onto life by a thread.


JaMarcus Russell may have only been sacked once, but there were more than a few occasions where he was hurried and forced to alter throws or take off running, more than a few problems that helped contribute to a 24 of 41 day passing. That included at least two passes that should have been interceptions, one of which could have easily been a pick-six.


Following their only touchdown, LSU's drive chart was abysmal – fumble, punt, fumble, interception. And that was just the first half.


Ultimately there were too many mental mistakes that led to LSU's offense scoring just seven points.







Once again in defeat LSU's defense was given the unenviable task of being placed in bad situations for just about the entirety of the game. It seemed like every time the Tigers made plays to get off of the field, they were being made to go right back out and make a stop to keep LSU in the contest. 


They took the crowd out early by causing a fumble, then held the Gators to a three-and-out after the offense put up six. They nearly held Florida after being backed up to their own 19 yard line because of a muffed punt, forced another interception and another punt before the Gators were able to finally put together a real drive to take the lead before halftime.


Even so, there were times when the Tigers didn't look like they were set and times when players were literally motioning one another just prior to snaps, pleading with them to get into the right position for the play. In short, there were times when LSU's defense looked a little confused.


No doubt there had to be some frustration on the defense's part, and who could blame them? But it is still frustrating that LSU allowed a freshman quarterback to rush for 40 yards on nine carries and throw two touchdown passes on his only two attempts.







Chevis Jackson's muffed punt was just the beginning of this nightmare, and only the first time special teams caused a huge shift in momentum.


Additionally, the Tigers had the Gators pinned at the two yard line after a Chris Jackson punt before a penalty for not having enough men on the line (something that has happened more than once this season) brought the kick back. Jackson shanked the next one. Then Jackson had a punt blocked, there was a missed field goal (albeit a 41-yard attempt) and the second half kickoff return attempt by Early Doucet that resulted in a safety for Florida.


Colt David did hit the longest field goal of his career, and the Tigers did block a punt. But by then it was far too late to really matter.







Think what you will, but the game plan for beating Florida was sound.


Last week we said that the rest of LSU's season rested on the execution by the players.


The Tigers didn't execute the game plan and didn't execute fundamentals when doing so would have put the No. 5 team in the nation away in their own crib so quickly, there would likely have been a mad rush for the exits shortly after halftime the way things were going before the muffed punt and fumble inside the Gators' five yard line.


There is only so much preparation the coaches can give. We can't put a fumbled center-quarterback exchange, a muffed punt and a muffed kickoff on the shoulders of the coaches solely.


At times LSU's players looked rattled and needed to be calmed down, but when you're drowning in quicksand because you didn't do what the expedition leader told you to, you have no one but yourself to blame.



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