REPORT CARD: LSU 28, Florida 24

It was appropriate that LSU legend Billy Cannon was signing autographs and taking pictures with fans last Saturday in Baton Rouge.

Much like in the Tigers' 1959 Halloween night game against Ole Miss, everyone who is a Tigers fan from now until the end of collegiate sports will claim to have been in Tiger Stadium for LSU's 28-24 victory over Florida. That includes those who were still in the womb as of October 6, 2007.


The game was epic. Every emotion that could have been experienced was felt. From the thrill of seeing LSU run out onto the field as the No. 1-ranked team in the nation for the first time since 1959, to the confusion over the inability of the defense to stop Florida's offense in the first half, to the disappointment of being down at halftime for the first time all season, to the guilty pleasure of hearing Public Address Announcer Dan Borné say, ‘Stanford, 24 – Southern California, 23,' to the elation of watching Jacob Hester plow over the goal line, and finally the relief of Chad Jones batting Tim Tebow's last pass of the night to the ground, the gamut was most certainly run.


Shocking as it may sound, the regular season is halfway over. Six games down, six games to go. LSU has made it past midterms. Although they may have been tardy a time or two, they've shown up to make sure they got all the notes down that they needed. More importantly, they have made certain everyone else has taken notice.





LSU had only nine possessions to work with last Saturday night. Some of that was due to Florida's ability to sustain drives in the first half, while most of it was due to the Tigers eventually being able to do the same. Things were a bit rocky at the start for LSU, however, and the bumps certainly caused a bit of anxiety.


Before they were able to put together a 16-play, 80-yard drive that lasted over seven minutes and went for a touchdown in the second quarter, an interception, dropped passes, and penalties hampered the offense. Dropped passes were all too common in the first half, and it certainly appeared a podiatrist was needed for the amount of times LSU shot itself in the foot … make that feet. Matt Flynn's ability to find some rhythm was hampered by the Tigers miscues, but he fought through it and got a boost from Jacob "The Punisher" Hester's efforts.


Ryan Perrilloux added a needed spark at times, Brandon LaFell shook off the jitters he seemed to have, and the offensive line finally remembered when snap counts were and held their ground to protect the quarterbacks.


Coming into the game, Florida's rush defense was ranked fifth in the nation, allowing just 63.4 yards per game (2.2 yards per carry). LSU rushed for 253. 








The Gators scored on three of their four first-half possessions and put up more points by halftime than any other team has this season during an entire game against LSU thus far. In fact, they made it look easy with sustained drives of 10, 12, and 10 plays that covered 47, 77, and 72 yards, respectively. Florida's second-half drive chart, however, looked much different.


Touchdown, fumble, interception, punt, end of half is how the third and fourth quarters went for the Gators. The Tigers rebounded to allow just seven points over the final 30 minutes of play, allowed just two third-down conversions, and greatly affected field position. Following Florida's opening drive touchdown of the second half on blown coverage, the Gators only made it to the 50-yard line, their own 24-yard line, their own 20- yard line, and the LSU 46-yard line. Florida's final four possessions lasted just 18 plays and took up a miniscule 5:30 of the game clock.








Colt David's two missed field goals made things much more dramatic. He is now 0-for-2 on the year when the ball is longer than 40 yards away from the crossbar and 4-of-6 when the uprights are 30-plus yards away. He did rebound to make all four extra-point attempts.


The Gators didn't get close to Patrick Fisher's two punts. Matt Flynn converted a first down out of a fake field goal. Chad Jones fielded a Florida punt when he got the chance.


Other than David's field goal mishaps, the only other special teams miscue seemed to be the opening kickoff by Josh Jasper that gave the Gators starting field position at their own 38-yard line. It definitely appeared to be a designed sky kick of sorts but proved to be a little generous.








Checking the record books, one might be hard-pressed to come up with anything where the Tigers last went 5-for-5 in a statistic other than field goals, PATs, or something else conceivable.


Five-for-five on fourth-down conversions in a game? Get to work and find that one. Heck, when was the last time an LSU coach even went for it five times on fourth down in a single game?


If the Tigers' start against Tulane last week was a "slap in the face" wake-up call, the first half and third quarters against Florida was a near heavyweight knockout blow that LSU was reacting to. In movie analogy terms, it was sort of like watching Sylvester Stallone in Rocky III continuing to taunt Mr. T.


"My mother hits harder than that! Come on! A little harder! Hit me in the face! Come on, Champ! You ain't so bad! You ain't nothin'!"


And as the Tigers were clawing back, getting up after each hit to answer the bell, one could almost sense what the Gators were thinking, what they thought for sure would ultimately be a futile effort on LSU's part. In the words of Clubber Lang, "You must be crazy. You're just a stupid fool."

Call it crazy. Call it confidence. Whatever it was, LSU's coaching staff had it and made the team believe they had the "Eye of the Tiger."



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