If I could put this in the simplest of terms, Florida beat LSU at its own game on Saturday. They used field position and defense to hold the Tigers down, and on offense, Brent Pease simply poked and prodded until he figured out what hurt the LSU defense.
That was all it took. I don't know why anybody would want to watch this again, but hey, gotta call the column something, right?
- I talked about it in the game preview -- Florida has made a living this season grinding out close games. LSU's best shot would be to get up in the first half by more than one score to force the Gators out of their second-half gameplan. When the Tigers failed to punch that fumble into the end zone at the end of the half, the game turned. Florida knew that they'd be able to keep LSU from making big plays, or from stringing together a long drive. They also knew that eventually, their offense would find something that worked.
- Speaking of that half-ending play sequence, a halfback pass off of the power-O play is a great idea -- in a third and one situation when the defense is expecting a short-yardage run. Whomever thought it would work in a long-yardage situation needs to say that out loud to themselves and repeat it until they realize how stupid it sounds.
- Playcalling is the hot topic of conversation, but it's a two-fold problem right now. LSU can't seem to find a way to string plays together and set tendencies to break, but the main issues is that the team has completely regressed on executing those basics in the last three weeks. If you can't run a basic inside-zone (and when the offensive line is simply not moving the d-line or getting to the second level, the problem isn't how many defenders are in the box), it's hard to set up a counter, and there's no way to keep the defense compressed to set the edge for an outside run.
Is more passing the answer? Only if you want to see more sacks and dropped passes. Right now the breakdowns in the passing game go beyond a simple fix. Zach Mettenberger isn't playing bad necessarily (though he badly missed an open receiver on that interception), but he doesn't have the level of mastery to carry this offense through the other problems. He struggles with recognizing defensive coverage post-snap, the offensive line can't protect him well enough for deep throws without Chris Faulk, and these receivers don't catch the ball well enough consistently for short ones.
- I made the comment in Poseur's thread and the analogy holds true. If your child was struggling to pass basic algebra, you wouldn't try to fix things by moving him up to a trigonometry class. The answer to this offense isn't to get more complex. More Crowton-ish. It's to figure out what plays they can execute well on a consistent basis, and expand out from there. Typically, this is what you do in training camp (and through weeks one and two, it appeared to be the case). You can't say "we don't run what works," because that implies that something works in the first place. Starting over in week seven, well, that's not good. Greg Studrawa's gonna take a lot of heat the rest of this season, but he isn't the problem. There's a lot more going on. This is as much on the players as it is the coaching staff right now. This isn't about the offense being "figured out," it's about the lack of that on LSU's own sideline. Nobody knows what this team does well right now. Nobody knows what players can be trusted on a down-in and down-out basis. And that's completely changed since the Washington game.
- At wide receiver, it's clear that the lack of a true No. 1 target is the issue. Mettenberger doesn't know who to trust when he drops back, and I don't blame him. We believed Odell Beckham Jr. would fill that role, but he isn't dialed in mentally on every play. That was obvious on his fumble, which was about nothing more than shitty form carrying the football -- away from his body like a loaf of bread. Jarvis Landry struggles to separate from faster DBs, and Kadron Boone/James Wright can't be trusted to catch the ball. So who does that leave?
- Some of this is injury related, but the most glaring thing I see is a lack of intensity and urgency, and that's not just on offense. Who are the leaders on this team?
- On defense, you can't say enough about the way Kevin Minter is playing. Unfortunately, he's the only playmaker LSU has in the back seven right now. Eric Reid is out of position constantly, the corners are solid enough but they're young and make the mistakes that young players make. This is why you saw Florida move to a more misdirection-based running game in the second half. Kwon Alexander looked fantastic, so of course he suffered a major injury.
- LSU still has everything to play for. Win out, you'll still win the West and go to Atlanta. But it's really, really hard to imagine that happen right now. Hell, it's hard to see another win at all right now. This coaching staff and this team have to come together individually before they can come together as a complete unit. The players on this team need to decide how good they really want to be, because right now I see a group that is playing like they expect the good things to just happen without having to make them happen. Maybe they believed they'd be able to roll over everybody but Bama like last year's team did. Maybe a year's worth of "one-game season" hype got to them. I see a team that looks like they are starting at square one. So how many more losses will it take for the lessons to be learned, and for things to start clicking?