Did I mention, last week he threw
for 661 yards and has collected 2,467 passing yards and 24 touchdowns – in five
games!! Sorry about that, it’s just amazing.
By the way, the Red Raiders pounded
Texas A&M 59-28.
At any rate, it was nice to have a
week off from college football as the LSU Tigers enjoyed an open date. When I
say an off day from college football, it’s LSU football I mean - there was
plenty of football going on Saturday.
I don’t know which number boggles
my mind more – (besides Symons 661 passing yards against Ole Miss two weeks ago)
the number four or maybe… two?
The number four represents total
yards gained on the ground by Tennessee in a 28-21 loss to Auburn on Saturday.
The Tigers rose like a Phoenix out of the flames handling No. 7 Tennessee in
Auburn, which entered the game at
an under-whelming 2-2 after “big” wins against Vanderbilt and Western Kentucky,
looked like the preseason No. 6 team in the nation jumping out to a 14-0, then
21-7 lead over the previously unbeaten Volunteers.
How about the number
Two wins in two years by the Ole
Miss Rebels as David Cutcliffe’s team beat the Gators in consecutive seasons for
the first time since Florida dropped three in a row to the Rebels in 1946, 47
Both losses came by three points -
Ole Miss dispatched the Gators 17-14 a year ago in a goalpost tumbling event in
Oxford. This season, Zook let the locals in Gainesville experience what losing
to Ole Miss is all about doing it in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium by the score of
20-17. Before last year, Florida hadn’t lost to the Rebels since a 24-19 defeat
in the 1989 season opener.
Speaking of the No. 6-ranked team
in the land, LSU enters this weekend’s battle with those same Florida Gators as
the 6th-ranked team in college football. The Tigers could have moved
into the top five for the first time since No. 4 ranking in 1987, but Brock Berlin led Miami on a last gasp drive upending West Virginia 24-22 to remain in
the No. 2 spot.
Think back for a moment, can you
remember the last time LSU went into a game with the Florida Gators as the
outright favorite. It has been a while - probably not since the Tigers laid an
egg in Gainesville in 1988 losing to a 7-5 Florida team 19-6. LSU went on to win
the SEC title that season.
Then came Steve Spurrier.
The Spurrier era pertaining to LSU
was an unpleasant time for most Tiger fans. Sure the 28-21 win over the
top-ranked Gators in 1997 was fun, but it was sandwiched between 58-3 (1993),
42-18 (1994), 56-13 (1996), 41-9 (2000) and 44-15 (2001) losses.
Good bye Steve, welcome Ron
Single-handedly, Zook has
dismantled the Florida machine piece by piece. Gator fans would chuckle at the
notion of losing to Ole Miss during Spurrier’s regime - LSU as well. Zook has
made it a regularity.
Florida was a slight favorite over
LSU when the Tigers ventured into The Swamp a year ago. The Gators still had key
components like Rex Grossman and Taylor Jacobs, but LSU picked off Grossman four
times and celebrated a 36-7 trashing of Florida much to the disgust of a few
thousand Gator fans that stuck around to see the outcome.
As winds of change are blowing in
the SEC, the western division grows stronger each week as the once dominant east
is floundering with only Georgia keeping the juggernaut afloat.
Georgia was setback a bit with a
loss to LSU, but Tennessee’s loss to Auburn and Florida’s continuing problems
with Ole Miss have converted the eastern division from a fortress to a romper
While the Gators are flailing in
the doldrums with a 3-3 overall record, there are still several factors in
Saturday’s game, which can prove costly to LSU.
For one, the obvious reason is the
Tigers are coming off an open date. Sure LSU has won its last three games after
a bye week, but the Tigers were executing with such precision through the first
half of the schedule, head coach Nick Saban can only hope the absence of a game
does not affect
focus and consistency.
Two, Ron Zook will be fighting for
The Florida players called a
players-only meeting Sunday - it might have been to name a player-coach! At any
rate, whether the Gators believe in their coach or his system, Florida’s back is
against the proverbial wall as UF tries to avoid its worst record after seven
games since a 3-4 start in 1986.
Zook has the dubious distinction of
leading the Gators out of the top 25 for the first time in something like 275
weeks – yikes, that is not something he will want on his resume’ next year.
The odds are stacked against the
Gators, but the intangibles are in Florida’s favor. LSU has beaten Florida in
Baton Rouge just twice since 1980; the Tigers are 2-7-1 in the last 10 meetings
in Tiger Stadium.
Enough with the stats and enough
with the past, let’s talk about why LSU will not just beat Florida, but why they
will help dot the i’s on Zook’s unemployment check.
The Tigers have been impressive at
times this season on offense. Offense wins games, but defense wins championships
and LSU’s defense is of championship caliber. Giving up just 8.5 points per game
this season, the Tigers are ranked among the nation’s elite defensive
Rated No. 4 in Division I, LSU is
giving up just 256 yards per game, a paltry 58 on the ground, which also ranks
fourth. The Tigers are third in the nation with 10 interceptions and list at
second in the SEC with 14 sacks.
Speaking of sacks, someone needs to
tell Florida true freshman quarterback Chris Leak to watch all the Muhammed Ali
film he can this week – because he will be doing his fair share of bobbing and
weaving on Saturday. The LSU front seven – particularly the defensive front four
– can get to a quarterback fairly quick. Leak can find David Greene’s cell
number in the Georgia student directory.
Against the Bulldogs, the Tigers
covered all their b’s. Not only did they “blitz” Greene, but “batted balls” and
also “busted” the all-SEC quarterback in the mouth on several occasions. In the
end, LSU had hit Greene 15 times, swatted away 11 balls and sacked the potential
Heisman candidate four times.
Greene is a seasoned junior
quarterback with three years SEC experience under his belt; Leak will be
starting his third game Saturday and is only six games removed from high school
football at Independence High School in Charlotte, N.C. - not a good
Look for next week’s numbers
to pertain to sacks by the LSU defense or days it will take for Florida A.D.
Jeremy Foley to draft Zook’s walking papers - that is if B.J. Symons and Texas Tech have an open date.