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Florida vs. LSU: Swarming Defense Has Tigers Ready for Meat of SEC Schedule

Florida DT Anthony Johnson sacks Florida QB Tyler Murphy.
Florida DT Anthony Johnson sacks Florida QB Tyler Murphy.Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Barrett SalleeSEC Football Lead WriterOctober 12, 2013

All of the waiting finally paid off.

LSU has been a mirror image of its former self this season, as it entered Saturday's showdown with Florida with the SEC's fourth-best offense (488.8 yards per game) but seventh-best defense (367 YPG).

Against the Gators, it turned back the clock and went old school.

Playing in front of a raucous home crowd in Baton Rouge, the Tigers feasted on Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy, sacking him four times and limiting the Gators to just 240 yards of total offense in an old-fashioned 17-6 win.

LSU S Micah Eugene
LSU S Micah EugeneDerick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sport

Micah Eugene, Anthony Johnson, Jalen Mills and Kendell Beckwith each sacked Murphy, with Beckwith's forcing a fumble that ended a 13-play Florida drive midway through the fourth quarter with the Gators down 11. 

The Tigers got after the quarterback, limited the Gators to just 2.8 yards per carry and forced Murphy to check down time and time again, which prevented the Gators offense from getting any sustained momentum. Murphy couldn't find any holes in the secondary and finished with just 4.3 yards per pass attempt.

This is what the LSU defense should be.

It controlled the line of scrimmage, played tight in the secondary and didn't miss many tackles.

Just how bad was it for Florida's offense? Cody Worsham of TigerRag.com notes:

Florida's best pass today came from its punter, and its best punt came from its quarterback. #SEC

— Cody Worsham (@CodyWorsham) October 12, 2013

It's true.

The magnitude of playing a road game in Tiger Stadium got to Murphy at times, but he was more rattled by the constant pressure LSU defensive coordinator John Chavis dialed up for the full 60 minutes.

This was the last piece of the puzzle.

We knew the Tigers could win shootouts thanks to quarterback Zach Mettenberger, running back Jeremy Hill and the potent offense. Now we know they can win slugfests. In other words, LSU is becoming a complete team.

LSU CB Jalen Mills
LSU CB Jalen MillsStacy Revere/Getty Images

So what does this mean for the Tigers moving forward?

LSU head coach Les Miles
LSU head coach Les MilesChuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

They have Ole Miss on the road next week before a tune-up with Furman, a bye week and the showdown on Nov. 9 against Alabama. The win versus the Gators provides a perfect opportunity for the Tigers to build off the performance for the next few weeks in preparation for the Crimson Tide.

Let's be honest, Ole Miss isn't the same Ole Miss squad of last year.

Quarterback Bo Wallace has been inconsistent, the offensive line has struggled at times, and head coach Hugh Freeze's tendencies appear to have been figured out. 

The Rebels aren't scaring anybody. At least, not anybody with a decent defense (looking at you, Texas A&M)—which is exactly what LSU has.

Furman will be a cakewalk, which means that the Nov. 9 showdown with the Crimson Tide will be the same kind of old-fashioned slugfest that it's become known for.

All three of LSU's SEC opponents coming into this game have gained 434 yards or more of total offense.

Florida gained just over half that. If that's not a jumping-off point for the new-look LSU defense, nothing is.

LSU is legit and on a crash course for another "game of the century" with Alabama in Tuscaloosa.

 

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