Upon Further Review: LSU @ Florida - The Defense and Special Teams

Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Florida beat LSU by doing what LSU usually does best. Even still the defense and special teams played pretty well.

It’s been a long time since it happened. But on October 6th, it happened. LSU got out LSUed. You know, that whole, "Les Miles is lucky to always sneak out close victories with modest offensive output and outstanding defense and special teams." Yeah, that’s exactly what Florida did. Look at the end numbers:

Total Offensive Yardage: 236
Passing Yards: 61
Rushing Yards: 176
Points: 14
3rd Down Efficiency: 7/14
T.O.P.: 37:24

For all the talk of the masterful influence of Nick Saban and Tommy Tuberville, Will Muschamp pulled a page straight from the book of Les Miles. Here are the rules:

  1. Contain the run game. (LSU rushed for just 42 yards)
  2. Dominate field position. (LSU average starting field was their own 17)

You win those two wars and you’ll be in nearly every football game. That’s it. It’s a pretty simple recipe that’s extremely difficult to execute on a week-to-week basis. Yet, LSU manages to do so on a near weekly basis. Not this week. This week, Muschamp out Milesed Miles. UF out LSUed LSU. It wasn’t outright dominance. It wasn’t pretty. It was just effective.

The defense and special teams didn’t play abjectly bad. I’m not going to extend the effort to see how long it’s been since we’ve allowed over 150 rushing yards, but it’s been a while. Alabama in the title game hit exactly 150. If I had to guess the last time before then, it’d be Auburn in 2010. It’s an enormous number for a defense that allowed just 90 ypg on the ground last season. UF putting up 176 is almost unheard of. It’s a testament to two things: a) The talent and ability of Mike Gillislee, who put up 146 hard-earned yards on 34 carries. b) The inability of the offense to get off the field left our defense both tired and ineffective (late).

At the end of the day, no one will come away from this game blaming the LSU defense or special teams for the loss. Though neither exerted dominance we’ve seen in games past, they were surely competent enough to secure a tough victory on the road. Now for the individual effort:

DL

DE

Mont: Not his best game. He made one nice play early, fighting across the face of Xavier Nixon and making a tackle.Stood up Halapio on another play to stuff for no gain. He struggled on the zone/read stuff. The play is keying on him, but Driskel took advantage of him, waiting to pull it out until Sam crashed and then busting it outside for several nice gains. Got pushed down inside by Jordan Reed. Needs to be stronger. Otherwise, quiet.

Mingo: Beat a double team early on a 3rd and 18 to flush Driskel from the pocket in a play which winds up forcing a 4th. Recovered the fumble after Logan forced the fumble on Driskel. Good effort and awareness. Made one freak play. In the Wildcat they ran the trap counter (like it’s their job they ran this play), and Mingo went down to take out the pulling guard. Burton tries to then cut inside this, but Mingo, with the guard on top of him, reaches up and drags Burton down. Incredible. Overall though, really quiet day from Mingo.

Edwards: Really strong game. First play I remember, he shot upfield by design to open lane for blitzing LB. Yet, he stuck with the play, peeled off his blocked and wound up getting a shot on Driskel that forced a hurried overthrow. Great effort. Very next play his path upfield allows him to interfere with throwing lane for Driskel in a play that winds up a sack for Freak. Favorite play though came a bit later. He completely dominated Nixon up front with a bull rush and collapsed the pocket. Driskel bails, but Edwards remains in pursuit. Edwards chased Driskel all the way to the right sideline, where Driskel jukes him slightly but stays with it and winds up bringing him down in the backfield. Best part? The play started on the left hash. Edwards with tremendous effort and will to bring him down. Lined up in a wide-9 at one point and crashed down and took on the pulling guard. Unsexy play, but smart, disciplined football. Did a great job in run d all night.

Rasco: Only memorable play came when Gillislee attempted to bounce a play wide completely outside of his blocking. Rasco stayed with him and wound up getting the initial hit in a play that went for no gain.

DT

Logan: Took on a double team early, showing some of the strength he added this offseason. Up and down against the run. At times, he’d beat his man and force plays to go for nothing. Other times, he struggled to push his men around. Stunted into a double team on a QB Draw that winds up just being bad luck call. Remember the aforementioned Edwards chase down sack? The other guy on that tackle? Bennie Logan. Good hustle. Took on the center on Minter’s 1st sack, allowing him to come completely free. Interior pass rushing in general struggles, but he did use a nice swim move to get to Driskel in a play that wound up becoming a strip sack. Important play for us at the time.

Freak: Continues to play too high. He’s the most gifted DT on the entire roster, but his technique doesn’t match his talent, yet. At times, he looks dominant. Other times, he’s an easy win for the OL. Does play with a ton of effort. Racked up sack early on the play when Edwards altered throwing lane. Over-ran one play. You got to see his speed/explosiveness, but took himself out of the play.

Ego: Quiet day.

Downs: He’s a pretty active run defender, though he surprisingly has no pass rushing skills. He’s probably the guy who consistently can generate penetration in the run game, but he also gets spared a ton of snaps.

LB

Minter: Words cannot express. From the opening defensive series it became apparent that Minter came to play. Early on, crashed a running play hard and fearlessly took on the pulling guard (Halapio) and stonewalled him. No tackle, but he should get an assist, right? Wait, he was just getting started. Played physical all day, whether taking on blocks or tackling. Recorded back-to-back sacks, the first of which due to his own snap timing and instincts. The second, he simply came completely free on a blitz. Tackle upon tackle upon tackle. It’s been a while since we’ve had a LB play a game this well. It’s really a joy to watch. You can see he was in the zone. He knew exactly what he was seeing, trusted his eyes and instincts and went for it. Forced a fumble that kept points off the board for UF. UF’s 1st TD came shortly after Miner went down hurt for a bit. No real coincidence, I don’t believe. A special day for Minter who is having an outstanding season.

Kwon: This one hurts. I didn’t get to study tape on Towson to see how he performed, but in the early parts of this game, he looked like a special player. Nabbing this kid on signing day was overlooked by many in lieu of the other losses and the hangover from 1.9, but it shouldn’t have been. He suffered a significant knee injury during his senior season, but watching him now, you wouldn’t even know it. He’s the fastest LB on the team (at least he plays the fastest currently). He hits like a ton of bricks. He made a few special plays early on. First time he came to life on tape is on a called blitz. He was actually picked up on the play, but he came in full bore and actually put Gillislee on his back. Gillislee is both a big back AND a Senior, so to see a true freshman come with that sort of force was special.

Perhaps even more impressive was his play on an early reverse call from Florida. They get to ball to Patton with some decent blocking ahead of him, but no matter. Kwon not only has an angle on him, he eats him up for a 2-yard loss. Speed. To. Burn. It was truly impressive. He’s a fucking banshee.

But he’s not just a speedy guy who arm tackles. His physicality is what makes him special. He’s willing to do dirty work that a lot of speedy, WLB refuse. On one play he absolutely manhandled a Hunter Joyer block attempt. On a 2nd and short play, in which Debo, Reid and Minter all miss, Kwon cleans up Gillislee alone. He stops him in his tracks. HUGE hit. When I say, "in his tracks" what I mean is: In. His. Tracks. He also recovered the fumble forced by Minter.

He did whiff on one quick hitter. It was a poor tackle attempt, but it proved to be a blessing in disguise, because Minter winds up forcing the fumble a few seconds later. Also was confused on a zone/read play where he jumped inside though Driskel already kept. That ended up vacating space for a big gain. So it’s not all flawless, but the special potential showed. Unfortunately, he broke his ankle.

That could be felt immediately. With Muncie in, UF immediately went back to the reverse and while Kwon could make that play… Muncie barely got his hand on the ankle of the rusher. Two plays later, we blitz with Muncie. He does a decent job with it, but his lack of speed he narrowly misses batting down the pass.

Muncie: Not a ton to say here. I mentioned above that you can see the difference in sheer athleticism between he and Kwon. He got called for a personal foul that looked to be bunk. That drive resulted in a TD for UF.

Debo: Only play I really noticed him, he over ran a running play on a run blitz. But could now be his time? He brings a lot higher physical upside than Muncie.I wouldn’t be surprised if he got a ton of run at WLB this week in practice and in the USC game.

Barrow: His play has been perfectly adequate all season long. He’s not sensational, but he’s solid. He’s a physical player. Took on Joyer, shucked him and made a tackle to turn a 2nd and short to 3rd and 1. Nice play. Diagnosed a reverse and disposed of Joyer again to get in on the tackle. He struggled a little on zone/read stuff, and jumped inside on a few of the keepers.

DB

Overall, there’s not much here. Florida only had 61 passing yards. Downfield coverage remained strong all day. None of the players really did anything standout good or bad.

Simon: For a guy as big as he is, he gets blocked up a little too much in the screen game. That kinda perturbs me. Did get beat by Dunbar once, but not terribly. He adjusted and ended up breaking up the pass, but he was initially beat on the comeback.

Mills: Got matched up with Jordan Reed on a slant pattern, which is a total mismatch. His coverage wasn’t great there. He did make one big tackle that saved a huge run.

Reid: I really expected Reid to be one of our better players this season, but it hasn’t happened. Poor tackling continues to plague him. I mentioned him seven times in my notes, four of which were for poor tackling efforts. He’s gotta get better.

Loston: Made some nice open-field tackles. May be his best game to date. Got Debose on an early screen and did a good job not to overpursue on a speedy player. They did try to isolate him in coverage a couple times, which is a winning matchup for the O, but it never really burned us.

Collins: The play that stands out is the missed INT. Driskel threw it right at him, though with a ton of zip and bobbling, so not a great combo for catching. It bounced off his hands.

Special Teams

Wing: It’s funny how high our expectations are set. Even Danielson, early on criticizing Wing’s punts of 44 and 48 yards. I think the real issue is the first couple of kicks didn’t have the air under them we are accustomed to. He righted it pretty quickly. Florida looked timid to return anything.

Hairston: Well, he didn’t get much work. Opening kickoff he got high so coverage could get under it, which we wound up making the tackle at the 14. His other kick he boomed 5-yards deep into the endzone and we wound up making the tackle at the 16. So a solid day.

Alleman: 2 FG tries, 2 perfect kicks.

Beckham: He seems determined to give me a heart attack on punt returns. I honestly haven’t the slightest clue what he’s thinking back there. He is sure handed, so I’ll give him that. The first return he was dead to rights and deep, why not fair catch? Instead, he got rag dolled. The second return he fielded on the 5 and there were no UF defenders within 5 yards of the ball, so I don’t know why he didn’t let it bounce, as it looked poised to head into the end zone. He finally got into the fair catch game late. He’s a bit agonizing to watch, but he hasn’t made a back-breaking mistake yet.

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