By Scott rabalais
October 14, 2012
gainesville, Fla . — OK, now we know.
It was easy to dismiss LSU’s 12-10 win at beleaguered at Auburn as the first road game for some key inexperienced players against a team desperate to salvage its season. It was understandable to dismiss a lethargic 38-22 win over Towson as a lack of focus.
But there is little way to explain Saturday’s 14-6 loss at Florida as anything but the sign of an offense that is serious trouble.
This offense needs a tow. A jump. A new transmission. Saturday, it got bogged down in The Swamp and didn’t have to horsepower to pull itself out.
Statistics are for losers, but numbers certainly tell a tale of an LSU offense that is struggling to do anything.
LSU has scored one touchdown in its first two SEC games. The Tigers managed just eight first downs Saturday. They lost the turnover battle 3-2. They eked out just 203 yards total offense, only 42 on the ground.
Yes, LSU’s defense got gashed by Florida running back Mike Gillislee in the second half Saturday — he was All-SEC-like, with 34 carries for 146 yards and both of the game’s touchdowns — but the defense wore out. Much like LSU used to do to its opponents.
The defense couldn’t do it all. Frankly it did more than enough. A second-quarter sack of Jeff Driskel was recovered by Ke-Ke Mingo at the Florida 7 with just over a minute left in the first half.
LSU’s offense needed a kill shot. Instead, it shot itself in the foot, netting 3 yards on three plays before settling for a field goal and a 6-0 halftime lead. It had all the feel of an opportunity slipped away. Florida had allowed just six points in the second half this season — an ominous portent for an offensively challenged LSU team.
To sum up ...
The Tigers can’t pass-block. The loss of Chris Faulk at left tackle has been an anchor on them, even with Alex Hurst in his old spot.
The Tigers can’t catch. Fab five receivers? Fumbled fingered five more like it. Even when LSU got a prayer of a pass from Zach Mettenberger to Odell Beckham Jr. for 56 yards after Florida went up 7-6 in the third, Beckham fumbled trying to extend the play. Soon after, Gillislee scored Florida’s second TD.
Oh, one more stat: Penalties. Eight for 83 yards, extending Florida drives and helping snuff out LSU’s.
So where do the Tigers go from here? Not to be a BCS title contender; that’s for sure. To pinch a theme from Jim Mora Sr.: BCS? BCS? You kiddin’ me? They’d better hope they can win a game.
LSU at this point needs to think basic. Score points. Then worry about even contending in the SEC West. Don’t think about making it to Miami. Making it to a bowl will look like an achievement if more points aren’t scored.
How it can improve is a mystery. Even LSU’s vaunted running game is going to continue to get stuffed if team’s don’t believe the Tigers can throw. Right now, it’s evident not even Les Miles believes they can.
Yes, it’s just one loss. But it says a lot about what LSU did in those first five wins.