A lot of us are thinking back to the loss to LSU and wondering what it means for our upcoming, season-defining game in the Swamp. Here are a few of my thoughts on this matter.
--We need to hope that LSU was a wake-up call, not a matter of being exposed as a pretender. I don't think we got caught sleepwalking, per se, against LSU. Needless to say, our guys knew the magnitude of the game. However, they were also coming off an emotional beatdown of Georgia, and they knew that another key game against Florida was coming up. It's difficult to maintain over the course of multiple games the kind of 100% intensity it takes to accomplish the feat of winning somewhere like Tiger Stadium. If you're emotionally spent from the week before and the other team punches you in the mouth, it can be hard to get back up. Of course, the key now is to use the loss to regain our focus and to come into Florida much like LSU came into last weekend, with a chip on our shoulder and motivation to prove we're still in this thing. Then again, it's also possible that we just aren't up to winning road games against teams of this caliber, and if that's the case, we're in trouble again this weekend against Florida.
--We have to get better against the run. South Carolina sported one of the nation's top rushing defenses coming into the LSU game. However, although we had shut down seemingly solid running games in Vanderbilt and Georgia, we had yet to face a team that favored power running. That's what we saw from LSU, which stacked the line in max protect, smacked us in the mouth, and ran the ball up and down the field all night. Really, we were very fortunate they didn't score more than they did. With a decent QB, they would have. The bad news is that things won't get easier against Florida. We'll see some different looks from Florida, which likes to run zone-read with its mobile QB Jeff Driskel, but we'll also see more of the same. The Gators like to bring in extra linemen and to line up and pound you with their power back, Mike Gillislee. We're toast if we can't keep them from running for five-to-six yards per carry like LSU did. Florida's passing game isn't great, but Driskel is a step up from Zach Mettenberger, and the Gators probably won't struggle to punch the ball in for a touchdown if we let them get in scoring position.
--We have to play mistake-free on offense. In a game like this, there's no margin for error. Points will be hard to come by again this weekend, as Florida sports a defense that is just as good as LSU's. In these games, when you have a chance to score, you have to make it count, and you can't afford to turn the ball over under any circumstances. We didn't do that against LSU--we missed some key passing plays at the end of the first half, we took some ill-timed sacks, we had an interception while down by one. If the defense plays better and we eliminate the offensive mistakes, we'll have a solid chance to win, even if we only score 17-20 points. The mistakes will kill us, though.