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Delusional Optimism is Feeling Defensive

Ooooo... I’m so scared of Florida’s defense.

I fear nothing
Photo by David Rosenblum/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The fifth-ranked LSU Tigers, fresh off a blowout win over an outmatched foe, seemingly have put all of the negative chatter of the past few years behind them. Now they face off against a Florida team that has exceeded expectations so far, but many believe has built their success on a house of cards.

Quick, is that a preview of this weekend’s game or last year’s? LSU went into that game riding high, and not just LSU fans were confident the Tigers would show their superiority to the outmatched Gators.

Well, it didn’t really work out that way last year. I don’t want to re-live the misery, but let’s at least rubberneck the car crash a little. Joe Burrow went 19 for 34 and just under 200 yards passing. He threw two interceptions and fumbled the ball once, recovered by Florida. Feleipe Franks, despite completing a mere 44.4 percent of his passes, managed to out-duel Burrow thanks to an LSU defense that surrendered a touchdown with 2:30 of the offense scoring to take the lead in both the second and fourth quarters.

It was a bad game, is what I’m saying. LSU went into that game riding high, and left with one of the biggest losses of Orgeron’s tenure. And because they won, the Gators got to run their mouths, as is their right as victors.

Now, it’s our own fault for laying an egg in Gainesville last year, and nothing is gonna change that result. But it doesn’t make getting score-boarded by Feleipe f’n Franks hurt any less. The only thing to do is to wash away the memory of that dud is to go out there and get some measure of revenge.

Hey, if you can’t change the past, might as well shape the future.

As any Florida fan will happily tell you, LSU has not faced a team with a defense the same caliber as the Gators. Hell, you don’t even need them to brag about it, Burrow will do it for them

Florida comes into this game with a top-20 defense in yards/play, and one we should rightly be concerned about. This is a classic case of offense versus defense because, as we know, the LSU defense couldn’t stop any offense with a pulse (you now, except for the one that was averaging over 500 yards a game that LSU held to 159 yards last weekend). LSU defense is so bad that… /Poseur hands self a sheet of paper

Oh. How about that? LSU actually allows fewer yards per carry (2.61 to 2.88) and yards per pass attempt (6.1 to 6.3) than Florida. So I guess LSU won’t see a defense of Florida’s ability except every time they practice.

Now, this isn’t to say there aren’t things Florida excels at. They have 26 sacks on the season, twice as many as LSU. Okay. 10 of them were against Miami in the opener and another nine of them were against FCS teams, but still, the Gators can get at the quarterback.

The Florida defense has forced 17 turnovers, far and away the best in the SEC. Of course, they’ve given it away 13 times, also far and away the worst in the SEC, but who’s counting?

Aside from their inability to take care of the football, Florida is a lot like Les Miles era LSU. The defense creates havoc and makes plays, and the offense… well, the offense does its best.

Florida averages 6.54 yards/play, which is pretty darn good, but that’s propped up by two games against FCS teams against whom they averaged over 7.0 yards/play. The Gators have actually been held to precisely 5.53 yards/play twice this year: against Auburn and Miami.

Yes, Florida’s defense is stout, but their overall production is no better than LSU’s, and ask around the fan base how happy Tiger fans are with Aranda right now. Part of that is expectations, but let’s not also confuse Florida with 2011 LSU. They do have an elite pass rush and they’ve enjoyed tremendous turnover luck, and those are serious concerns this weekend. But the net result has been a defense whose production is pretty much exactly the same as an LSU unit that has gotten precisely zero national plaudits so far.

Want to compare offenses?

LSU ranks first in the nation in points/game, second in yards/game, and a mere fifth in yards/play. Joe Burrow ranks third in the nation in Passer Rating, second in yards, and fourth in yards/attempt. This offense can bring it, and it all starts with Burrow.

You want to start the Heisman campaign in earnest? It’s one thing to light up Vanderbilt or even Texas, which is not exactly know for its defense right now. But if you want to earn yourself an invite to New York City, it starts with beating a defense that is actually, you know, good.

It starts with beating the team you said you hate, Joe. There will be no more excuses come Sunday morning, one way or another. This is your last chance to get on this train.