Two seasons ago, the LSU football team put on a show against Florida that went down as one of the most memorable nights in Tiger Stadium history. From fourth-down conversions to national title hopes, the early October night had it all.
“Everybody was jacked up, ready to go,” said left tackle Ciron Black. “The stands were packed before the game. We had everything clicking for us; it was just one of those days.
“The huge fourth down drive, that was phenomenal,” he added. “But after last year, I just want to know how we can get better now.”
Black’s not alone in his thinking.
“They smacked us in the mouth,” said running back Charles Scott when describing the 51-21 loss to Florida in the Swamp last fall. “We have to regroup back at home.”
Following their 20-13 win over Georgia last Saturday, the Tigers headed back to Baton Rouge to turn their focus to regrouping against Florida – a team that returned 21 of 22 starters from the two-deep last season’s National Championship team.
“Florida is Florida; they are good every year and have a Tim Tebow at every position,” Black said. “The defense came to play last year, and we weren’t ready. We have to change that, and it started Sunday when we worked out and ran.
“We can’t pay attention to the hype, we just have to focus on football.”
After going indoors on Wednesday, the Tigers are back for practice on Thursday followed by a walk-through on Friday afternoon.
Popular chatter among the players during media sessions has been the status of Gator quarterback Tim Tebow, who suffered a concussion two weeks ago against Kentucky.
“I would like to see the guy play, because I know how he is feeling if he has to sit out of this one,” Scott said. “If he doesn’t, the backup is good and they will have the fast, explosive offense regardless.”
The word out of Florida has been that Tebow has practiced and remains day-to-day. Without an answer coming before the weekend, the Tigers have turned their homework into a generalized approach.
“We’re preparing for the Florida offense,” Miles said. “There’s a personality there. We recognize the quarterback can be a different guy, but he’ll probably be asked to do very similar things.”
If Tebow is not cleared, LSU free safety Chad Jones said the Tiger defense is still ready for a night of hard work.
“Brantley is a much more fluid passer from what I have seen on film,” he said. “I don’t know if he is the same big time runner [as Tebow], but he is a nice size kid. It will be a great challenge either way.”
Offensively, the team has stressed the importance of developing a ground game, something they were unable to do through the opening few weeks of the season.
Scott then had his breakout performance last Saturday against Georgia, running for 95 yards and two touchdowns, one the game winner, on 19 carries.
“I think our offense has confidence in Charles and the ability to run the football, we just needed to do it and put it together,” Mile said. “We needed to do that and not lose sight of it. His team needed him to have that day.
“Before, we were a mistake away from being a really good running team,” he added. “The adjustments and changes may not have been visible to the naked eye, but we were more efficient across the board.”
No matter if Scott is carrying the ball or sophomore quarterback Jordan Jefferson throwing it, Miles insisted that nothing would come easy against a Florida defense that people seemed to have forgotten about.
The Gators are first in the SEC in scoring (7.2 points per game) and total defense (212.8 yards per game).
“Our competition is more than just the quarterback,” he said. “There’s a whole defense that no one is talking about that’s playing really well.”
Scott, who lined up against the same Gator defense last October, does not seem influenced by the unit’s track record.
“If it calls for Jefferson throwing it, we are going to do it,” he said. “If it calls for me grinding it out all night, we are going to do that.”