Alabama Review / LSU Preview

What could have been an entertaining, close contest against the Crimson Tide turned into an ugly, 31-6 loss that has amplified the great debate about the merits of Coach Addazio as offensive coordinator and O-Line coach.

It was a great atmosphere at Bryant-Denny Stadium — the kind of big-time environment that makes the SEC far and away the toughest conference in the country on a consistent basis.

After a brilliant opening drive to the 2-yard line, the Gators imploded for the first of 4 empty trips inside the red zone, a shocking result given the experience of the O-Line and the talent (albeit young) of the skill position players.

There is simply no real “feel” to the play-calling in general, and the inconsistency of the offense is simply not SEC-contender caliber right now.  There seems to be no real plan from week-to-week, and it’s painfully obvious that Coach A is simply incapable of being a quality OC.  To make matters worse, the play of the O-Line is suffering as well.

Brantley and his receivers actually made some nice plays given the fact that they were behind big early, but JB made some terrible decisions on his interception throws, off-balance and into a crowded middle of the field.  He will be the first to say he made bad plays, and I’m sure he will correct them.

The Florida defense was up against it with all of the turnovers, but actually played pretty well overall, and kept fighting throughout.  Only one big run allowed, and the secondary shut down the Bama WRs.  The Tide running game, though, is led by 2 NFL-ready RBs, and they did enough to capitalize on field position and in the red zone. 

Will Hill has to shake out of his early doldrums and start playing like the player the staff thought they had — he was trucked by Richardson early, and burned (again) on play action on the Wildcat pass for a TD.  Lemmens looks really good in the stand-up position in the 5-2, and the D-Line in general controlled the running game.  But……NO PASS RUSH from the linemen.  That was disappointing, and if it continues, other teams will take advantage when the Gators have to start blitzing the LBs to apply pressure. 

Florida has to get it’s mind right immediately, as LSU comes a-callin’ to the Swamp.  Somehow, the Hat pulled another one out of his ass against Tennessee, but the Tigers actually have far worse offensive problems than the Gators right now, and their fan base is near-apoplectic at their poor performance (sounds familiar).

I actually think the LSU offensive coaches may have finally realized that between Jefferson and Lee, they still have zero QBs, and will decide to pound the rock and lean heavily on their solid defense and special teams to pull the tough games out.  Ridley is a load, and they have solid depth at RB.  It’s amazing that between Tolliver, Randle, and Sheppard, that offense doesn’t make a ton of big plays every week.  I can only hope that continues Saturday night, because those are NFL talents.

The Tiger defense is very similar to Florida’s in terms of speed, good line play, and a solid secondary.  Petersen is an All-American at CB, and a dangerous punt-returner as well.  I don’t envision the Gators going after him too often on offense, and being very careful in the punt game.

Well, the soap opera continues for the Gator offense, and it doesn’t seem to me that the staff is giving those kids the best chance to succeed.  I think Coach A (and maybe Meyer to a lesser extent) are in denial right now, and have to improve how the offense is “coordinated”.

It’s time to break tendencies.  Start throwing more on first down, and then come back with the run on second down.  Also, maybe it’s time to face facts, and just go 5-wide when down at the 1- or 2-yard line, and let either QB sneak the ball behind Pouncey and Johnson.  The staff is getting a little too cute right now.

Turnovers could keep this one close, but I believe the Gators respond to the home crowd and rebound with a much-needed win.

Defend the Swamp, and win the East……that’s the mantra from here on out.

Prediction  – Florida 27        LSU 17