Monday, October 12, 2009

"A Missed Opportunity" - Florida Game Recap

The LSU defense played their best game of the season in holding Florida's high powered offense to just 13 points and 327 total yards.  It was Florida's lowest point total since 2005 and the lowest of Tim Tebow's career.   Unfortunately, it wasn't enough because LSU gave an abysmal offensive performance and as a result, the team missed a huge opportunity to steal a victory from the nation's top ranked team. 

The offense managed just 66 yards rushing and 96 passing.  Florida sacked Jordan Jefferson five times and pressured him many other times.  LSU also killed themselves with numerous untimely penalties.   LSU did a few good things however.  LSU's running backs averaged just under 4 yards per carry and the offensive line did a better job of run blocking than I originally thought.  LSU managed 9 rushes of five yards or more, which isn't awful.  But the passing game is atrocious right now.  The offensive line gave Jefferson NO time to work and the few times that they did, Jefferson still looked indecisive and afraid to make a throw down the field.

It was clear that LSU's strategy for this game was to try and shorten it.  The defense made it a priority to prevent any big plays and not take many risks.  They successfully played a "bend but don't break" style of defense.  On offense, the plan was try and control the ball and to absolutely not turn the ball over.  Overall, this strategy was successful.  But once the game entered the fourth quarter, it was probably time for the coaching staff to take a risk or two on offense to try and hit a big play.  The conservative offense wasn't moving the ball, and it was evident that wasn't going to change. 

I can only speculate that Russell Shepard did not play against Florida due to the apparent goal of being conservative and not turning the ball over.  Shepard has shown a tendency to fumble the ball thus far in his short career.  Otherwise, sitting the team's most explosive offensive player in a game of this magnitude is just lunacy.  He has to be a part of the game plan from this point forward.  It has to happen.

What's upsetting is that LSU can do better than what they've shown on offense.  LSU has plenty of elite talent at the skill positions, but the poor offensive line play is preventing any kind of success right now.  To me, I'm not sure the offense is being designed around the strengths and weaknesses of the players.  When an offensive line is struggling to protect the quarterback, you'd ideally see some roll outs by the quarterback, some toss sweeps, and some mis-direction running plays.  It will be interesting to see what happens after the bye week when the staff has some time to work on things. 

Although they passed up a great opportunity Saturday night, LSU is right where they need to be this season...with a 5-1 record heading into the bye week.  The Auburn game now becomes the biggest game of the year.  With a win, LSU can head to Tuscaloosa in November with a 7-1 record setting up another huge match-up.  A loss to Auburn means that LSU is really just playing for their spot in the SEC bowl game pecking order. 


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