Tigers Defense Overcomes Kitchen Sink

On Florida's first possession, LSU linebacker Ali Highsmith had a chance to put the Tigers ahead. An errant Tim Tebow pass hit him in the hands, but Highsmith dropped the potential interception. Instead of a pick-six, LSU's defense would endure a 10-play, 47-yard drive that lasted 3:41.

Following a Matt Flynn interception and a punt that made up the Tigers first two offensive possessions, Florida added two touchdowns to its total, doing so with drives of 12 and 10 plays that ate up nearly 11 minutes of clock. With LSU's linebackers worrying about the Gators receivers, Kestahn  Moore seized the opportunity to gash the Tigers up the middle.

"Well, they make it hard on you," LSU Defensive Coordinator Bo Pelini said of the Gators. "They threw the kitchen sink at us. They were wide-open and did some things. They've got some good football players, and they were out there in space. There was a little bit of ‘cat and mouse' going on. Wins like that, football games like that with two damned good football teams and it comes down to you have to keep fighting; you've got to hang in there; you've got to fight through adversity to win games like this. And that comes down to having men of tremendous character. That's what we have. That's what our football team is. I've said that for a long time, and they just kept fighting and hung in there, no matter what.

"The credit goes to the players. There was a lot of times that a lot of things happened. There were some things that went our way, the momentum switched a couple of times, and there were a lot of times that they could've packed it in. Both teams really. Both teams just kept fighting. That was a tremendous football game."

By halftime, LSU found itself down 17-7. Florida's score tallied more points than the Tigers defense had given up in an entire game previously, and LSU simply didn't appear to have any answers for stopping Tebow.

"Going into halftime, they had us beat," Highsmith said. "We just came in. Everybody kept their composure. Everybody talked. We just realized we had to stick together and play as one. Once we got on the same page and did what we had to do, we knew we could come back. We just had to keep the faith and play football how we play football."

Ater giving up scores to the Gators on three of four possessions in the first half, the Tigers regrouped and returned in the second half with a vengeance…at least after Florida's first possession.

Keiland Williams rushed in from four yards out to cut Florida's lead to three points to open the third quarter, but the Gators answered on their ensuing possession when Tebow hit a wide-open Cornelius Ingram on a 37-yard pass to make Florida's advantage 10 points once again.

"The third touchdown they had, the one in the beginning of the second half, we just had a miscommunication," Pelini said. "It was a miscommunication. We had a combo call and there's bad communication. That's one me. That's on me. That was unfortunate. But like I said, at that point a lot of teams would've packed it in, said, ‘Ah, this isn't our night.' But our guys never said that. They said, ‘Not today.' They weren't coming in there today. We were going to win that football game, and they just kept fighting, and fighting, and fighting, and found a way."

From that point forward, the Tigers defense played lights out. The Gators last four drives consisted of a fumble, and interception, a punt, and Chad Jones batting down a ‘Hail Mary' in the North Endzone to end the game.

"I said, ‘Knock the ball down,'" Pelini said of his instructions to the Tigers on the last play. "We put Chad Jones in the game, who can really get up high – tall kid – for the last couple of plays. Our guys were exhausted. I mean, our guys up front rushing. I said, ‘Give us one more. Give us one more,' and they didn't have a whole lot left in the gas tank at that point. But we knew they had to throw the ball into the endzone. It was just a matter of batting the ball down, and the right guy was in the right place."

Heading into its game against LSU, Florida was averaging 476.6 yards per game on offense with 212.2 of those yards coming on the ground. The Tigers managed to hold the Gators to just 156 on the ground and 158 through the air – 314 yards overall. Florida was averaging 42.8 points per game, LSU held them to just 24.

"You have to understand this, we knew that it was a possession game," LSU Head Coach Les Miles said. "The opportunity to keep the ball was something you had to do. Their offense would give every defense in the country a difficult time."

Considering Florida had scored 65 points against opponents in the fourth quarter of games this season, there was definitely cause for worry that the Gators would continue to add to its lead. But for over 20 minutes, the Tigers kept Florida scoreless, including the entire fourth quarter. It most certainly took time for LSU's defense to figure out what to do against the Gators, but thankfully for the Tigers it didn't take too long.


Tiger Blitz Top Stories