After rewatching TV tape, here's a laundry list of thoughts, stats and highs/lows from Florida's win over LSU.
Disclaimer: All kicking plays and victory formation snaps are not included in final totals. Also, these stats are hardly 100% scientific. Without the coaches tape, I can't see everything and the TV tape oftentimes cuts away before/after play.
First things first, I'm not exactly sure we know how good this Gators team is, but one thing is a definite: They are not soft. Jeff Dillman deserves a hefty raise for the dramatic transformation this team has undergone in one season.
Now, the breakdown.
STATISTICAL BREAKDOWN Motions/Shifts: - 17-of-31 first half snaps (55%), 18-of-37 second half snaps (49%) 35-of-68 (51%) total, which is down 4% on just two fewer snaps than the Kentucky game. However, the trend continues - Gators shifting slightly more in the first half of games.
Dry spell: At one point in the first half, Florida and LSU combined for seven straight possessions without a first down.
Total net yardage on those series: -14
Wildcat snaps: 4 Unlike previous weeks, Florida didn't have a lot of success here sans Omarius Hines' 14-yard sweep. I know post-game many people were busting on Gary Danielson for his halftime comments about UF not being able to ride Mike Gillislee to a victory, but he astutely observed what a fantastic play call this snap was by coordinator Brent Pease. LSU lost starting linebackers Kevin Minter and Kwon Alexander on consecutive plays, so Pease followed suit with two straight new formations. On 2nd-and-seven, the Gators took advantage of LSU's youth & inexperience at linebacker and sprung a big play. Also, Quinton Dunbar and Jeff Driskel sealed the edge with great blocks.
Missed tackles: - 2 - Both by Chris Johnson on punt return coverage. This was a huge step forward by the defense after missing eight tackles against Kentucky. During Monday's press conference, Will Muschamp said the Gators missed seven tackles the previous two games, so "it was a big improvement." I counted nine, but maybe I'm a tough grader. Regardless though, he's correct as Louchiez Purifoy, Jaylen Watkins, Michael Taylor, Josh Evans and De'Ante Saunders all tackled immensely better against the Tigers. For those interested, the second tackle Juice missed was on the play Matt Elam drilled Odell Beckham Jr. out of bounds and posed with C.M. Punk's sleeper gesture.
Five wide/empty sets packages: - 7 snaps (up 1 from UK game). The Gators ran 4-of-7 snaps in the first quarter, including three on their opening drive. For the day, Driskel was 5-for-5 for 43 yards, with one bad sack and a quarterback draw on 3rd-and-short. Passes included Andre Debose's first catch in 2012, a quick read to Dunbar, Frankie Hammond Jr.'s fumble play, a slant to Jordan Reed -- who lined up on an island as a wide out -- and a swing pass to Hines -- his final throw on the day.
The swing screen to Hines was a well-executed play on Florida's first touchdown drive, notable because it was one the Gators failed to complete earlier in the game.
Driskel's first sack (more below) was on a very similar play just not in an empty formation. On both snaps, the Gators caught LSU in a blitz, but this time, Chaz Green got his hands on Mingo and forced him down field where he couldn't disrupt the pass.
Two weeks ago I counted how many snaps Hunter Joyer played, as well as Pistol formations. For the LSU tape, I recorded Pistol formations and JUMBO sets.
Pistol: 13 snaps, 10 more than the UK game - Again, mostly read-option runs with all sorts of scrambled personnel groupings. Sometimes Florida went Pistol heavy (Clay Burton, D.J. Humphries and Ian Silberman would come in) and other times it went spread (see: Quick pass to Reed, snapping long first-down drought). The Gators converted a pair of 3rd-and-shorts in the Pistol formation. For the future, I would expect Florida to incorporate even more Pistol snaps because of how much the formation plays to Driskel's strengths + Pease's love for misdirection.
Jumbo: Quick caveat - I didn't record the exact formations, personnel groupings, etc., only how many times Florida went heavy (i.e. extra lineman). Total: 15 -- and 9 in the second half. UF had great success running opposite the unbalanced line. The most obvious example was Mike Gillislee's first touchdown. Picture perfect blocking, timing and execution, especially by James Wilson, Green and Jon Halapio. The Gators ran lots of misdirection short trap sweeps out of the SUMO, CHIEF, etc. groupings. On Gillislee's second touchdown sprint, the hole was opened up when Halapio mauled a blitzing linebacker on a quick pull. Pancake, flat.
1) Probably the one sack that lies more on the offensive line and wide receivers than on Driskel himself. LSU's defense, Sam Montgomery especially, totally read the quick swing pass to Gillislee. Florida's line cut block on the play, but Silberman, in place of Wilson, whiffed badly, opening the floodgates. The wide outs couldn't get open and Driskel was indecisive, but he never had much of a chance.
2) Totally on the sophomore quarterback. On 2nd-and-17, he rolled outside the pocket and waited and waited and waited. Then he got sandwiched. This was a classic example of "throw the damn ball into the stands, son."
3) Minter, unimpeded over the center. It was technically Joyer's man to block, but it happened in an instant. Driskel never noticed the blitz pre-snap and was lucky he didn't fumble the ball.
4) Zone blitz and Driskel never saw it. LSU overloaded the right side with four defenders and Driskel didn't alter the protection. The quarterback was upset with Halapio after the play, but he and Green never had a chance, as it was 4-on-2.
5) Sack, fumble. The line was beat, but Driskel has to learn to live to fight another day. It was a coverage sack right away, but the sophomore tried to carelessly extend the play.
BRINGING THE HOUSE Blitzes: I did something different this week since the Gators played lots of 3-4/4-3 base: I recorded how many times they rushed a straight five line and how many times they brought an extra rusher from somewhere else.
Combined first half total: - 15-of-29 snaps (52%) - but separately - 4 snaps with extra pressure, 11 with straight rush of five or more ***Included three goal line snaps when Florida was rushing a down six (basically, it's the same idea).
Second half total: - 11-of-23 snaps (48%) - individually, 4 snaps with extra pressure, 7 with line rush.
Game total: (rushing 5+) - 26-of-52 snaps (50%) - Huge increase from previous games (UK total was 33%) but to be expected with increased run blitzes plus many more standard five down linemen. Florida didn't truly "blitz" Zach Mettenberger until LSU's second drive, and uncoincidentally, that's when UF's defense stared to harass LSU's injured front.
Top blitz results:
1) Lerentee McCray sack - Purifoy came off the edge and LSU's left tackle actually chipped both guys, but Mettenberger held the ball way too long and never sensed the backside pressure.
2) Watkins pick - UF's delayed blitz was actually picked by Ware, but Mettenberger just sailed throw -- but Beckham was definitely open on crossing route.
3) Evans' sack - Another delayed blitz. LSU's backup left tackle Alex Hurst had a busted assignment, crashing down instead of staying outside. Evans ran right past him for the blindside hit.
4) Bostic lunge - Déjà vu sack. (See: Minter, Kevin)
Quick note: The Gators actually played quite a bit of nickel on Saturday. I don't have a game total, but before Driskel's redzone fumble, the Gators played six straight snaps (a pair of three-and-outs) in nickel -- beginning with LSU's drive at the eight-yard line midway in the second quarter ***
STAT THAT MAY ONLY INTEREST ME
LSU missed tackles: 1 in the first half, ironically enough, on the Hammond Jr. fumble play. Second half missed tackles: 11. The defense was exhausted. LSU's gap control was terrible as the game progressed. Second half T.O.P: Gators - 20:19 Tigers - 9:41.
PICKING UP YOUR TEAMMATES
While Elam's third-quarter hustle strip was the play of the game, how the Gators responded after their two fumbles was just as impressive. Florida turned the ball over on consecutive possessions, yet their defense yielded just three net yards on the LSU's subsequent series. After Hammond Jr.'s fumble, the Tigers went backwards. On first down, Elam drilled Michael Ford for a two-yard loss. Evans sacked Mettenberger on the next play. A penalty and quick run later, and the Tigers were forced to punt. Following Driskel's cough up, Sharrif Floyd, Elam, Jonathan Bullard, Leon Orr, Bostic and McCray all came up huge. LSU was complexly discombobulated on its redzone possession. The jump-pass attempt was stoned because McCray, and then Taylor, bottled up LSU's tight end.
Although it was hard to predict the game's outcome at that point, Florida's stop was a massive momentum shift as the Gators were able to run into the locker room with some real confidence.
HALF TIME SPIKE
I have no idea what's in the Gatorade at halftime, but I'd guess nearly every team in the nation would like to find out. On Saturday, there wasn't a total switch or a ton of adjustments -- unlike Texas A&M and Tennessee -- Florida just came out and exerted its will against LSU. In 2012, the Gators hold a 78-13 advantage after intermission, including 41-0 in the fourth quarter. UF had 16 first downs and averaged 5.3 yards/play in the second half -- way up from 1.46 yards/play in the first two quarters.
JOSH EVANS BAD ANGLE OF THE WEEK
Thud. Joke's on me this week.
BOOM, BOOM Kyle Christy. As I said on Saturday, the sophomore saved UF's britches multiple times. His career-long blast (61-yarder) was ideal in terms of depth and hang-time. I also wanted to mention something I forgot to include in Saturday's notebook: Christy told me the Gators used a different long snapper for punts this week. It was noticeable. Chris Guido (who Florida brought out of retirement) replaced Kyle Crofoot, and the results were clean, crisp and quick snaps. There were no high ones on Saturday. Christy said the one snap he bobbled was simply nerves.
HUFF & PUFF & END YOUR DAY NOW LSU EDITION
Against the reigning SEC champs, Florida called 11 straight runs on its second touchdown drive. Every single play went for positive yardage. Gillislee, Driskel, Mack Brown, Solomon Patton and Trey Burton all contributed. Pease called 24 straight runs to end the game -- 29-of-30 dating back to UF's first TD drive. Driskel never attempted a pass in the fourth quarter.
GOOD, BAD & UGLY
* Right tackle Green was the unsung lineman of the week. The junior didn't play until UF's third series, but after he replaced Kyle Koehne he never left the field.
* Running back Brown. Growing, finally. He continued his nice work from the UK game, again displaying patience and vision in limited reps.
* Driskel sailing throws. Even some of his caught passes weren't exactly on the mark. The Tigers should've picked off the sophomore when he airmailed Dunbar in the first half.
* Gators' fumbles. I said two weeks ago Florida was playing with fire will all the cough-ups. It didn't kill them on Saturday, but without them, UF may have beaten LSU by three scores.
* Linebacker Taylor was the Chaz Green of the defense. Quietly, he was really solid.
* I've seen people asking, "Where was Dante Fowler Jr.?," but the freshman played a bunch. He didn't record a tackle, and neither did Bullard, but both had some quality snaps.
* Kudos again to Clay Burton. He's developed into a serviceable No. 2 blocking tight end. His acting job aside -- his personal foul flop was worse than a Cristiano Ronaldo dive -- Burton was an integral part in UF's JUMBO packages and second-half run domination.
*Jonotthon Harrison[/db] nearly snapping the ball over Driskel's head on Florida's first play from scrimmage. (Pistol formation!) Harrison did do a nice job dragging Gillislee for a first down in UF's opening drive of the third quarter.
* Dunbar, Reed, Hammond Jr., etc., for their down-field blocking.
* Omar Hunter, two more tipped/batted passes.
*On 3rd-and-two late in the fourth quarter, Floyd, playing defensive end, blew up the counter run in the backfield.
*Orr and Hunter did a really nice job on punt block pickup at the end of the game.
*Driskel's late run -- ala Texas A&M -- to extend the drive. Just like the Aggies, the Tigers had the play sniffed out but Driskel made a man miss and easily picked up the yardage.
DAZED AND CONFUSED
Three of LSU's biggest plays were instances when the Gators either were confused or not ready.
1). Kenny Hilliard's 13-yard rush - The Tigers' longest run from scrimmage happened as Elam was shouting instructions because the Gators were misaligned and failed to cover LSU's slot wide receiver/blocker. LSU spotted the hole in the defense and capitalized on it.
2) Beckham's 53-yard double-move - The Gators were late getting their nickel blitz rotated and then Marcus Roberson botched the coverage when he completely gave up on the play, believing that the quarterback had been sacked.
3) LSU's fourth-down conversion - Florida wasn't ready for the snap. Again, Elam and Jon Bostic were barking out instructions and the tight end caught the pass right in-between them for the first down.