Tigers offense makes statement

LSU outmans, one-ups Florida in 41-11 victory

Jarrett Lee showed off his accuracy on two long pass plays to Rueben Randle. Jordan Jefferson had success in a Tim Tebow-like role, subbing for Lee as a change-of-pace option and even adding a payback-laced, Tebow-esque jump pass for a score.

And the Spencer Ware-led ground game whipped Florida up front, making the Gators the latest in a line of physically outmanned LSU opponents.

That’s about as good as it gets for the LSU offense.

The Tigers rolled up 453 yards — 238 rushing, 215 passing — en route to a 41-11 victory Saturday afternoon, showing a national television audience that LSU’s top ranking is not based on defensive dominance alone.

“I felt our quarterback (Lee) played sharp at the start of the game and really throughout the game,” LSU coach Les Miles said. “We rushed the football at the back end of the game when we had to so that we could take our opponent out of the game.”

The back end of the game came early as LSU, a two-touchdown favorite, opened a 17-0 lead less than two minutes into the second quarter.

Lee got the Tigers started, faking a handoff to Ware on LSU’s second offensive snap and looking down field for Randle. Forty-six yards later, the ball found Randle in stride and dropped directly into the receiver’s bread basket for a 7-0 lead.

Later, on the second play of the fourth quarter, Lee hooked up with Randle for 57 yards on a fade route down the left sideline.

“It was just what they were giving us,” Lee said. “The coaches saw in the press box those safeties were playing pretty tight.”

In other words, the Gators were crowding they line of scrimmage to stop LSU’s running game.

Could you blame them?

Ware rumbled for 109 yards and two scores on 24 carries, busting through cavernous holes and pummeling defenders in the secondary. Alfred Blue got 14 carries for 70 yards, providing the final margin with a 2-yard burst 1:27 before the final horn.

Blue’s score capped an 11-play, 76-yard march that included 10 running plays for 55 yards.

All told, LSU ran the ball on 49 of its 63 offensive snaps, helping the Tigers chew up 35 minutes, 40 seconds in time of possession.

But when the Tigers did turn to their passing game, Lee and Jefferson came through.

Lee finished 7-of-10 for 154 yards, finding Randle four times for 127 yards. Jefferson went 3-of-4 for 61 yards, playing a significant role for the Tigers in his second game back from suspension.

“There were some things we didn’t do with both guys,” Miles said of the quarterback rotation. “We felt that when victory was secure, there were things that were out of the playbook.”

Early in the fourth quarter, however, Miles went deep into his playbook — and his memory bank — to dial up Jefferson’s first touchdown pass of the season.

In 2006, when Tebow served as starter Chris Leak’s change-of-pace backup, the future Heisman Trophy winner burst onto the national scene at LSU’s expense, tossing an old-school jump pass to Tate Casey after faking a run up the middle.

It was Tebow’s first career touchdown pass.

Saturday afternoon, with LSU facing third-and-goal at the 2, Jefferson showed Florida a blast from the past. He faked a run up the middle. He left his feet. He lobbed the ball over the defense and into tight end Mitch Joseph’s waiting arms.

“Just because it’s Florida, we ran one of their Tebow plays,” Joseph said with a smile. “Makes it that much better.”

Blue’s touchdown came about 11 minutes later, the last bit of damage in LSU’s well-balanced, start-to-finish dominance.

The exclamation point on a statement day.