I watched the game on replay yesterday. All hail Tivo, the greatest invention since the counter-top deep fryer. When watching the game in real time, like everyone else, I watch the ball most of the time. When watching the replay, I watch the lines.
Our offensive line played very well the entire game, except for a few penalties. When it came down to getting a hat on a hat and blocking someone, the offensive line did it successfully almost every time. We gave up no sacks, only two tipped passes, and only one QB hurry (which was also a tipped pass). In the running game, we had very few negative plays caused defenders getting into the backfield. The holes weren't always cavernous, but there was almost always something there for a running back to get into.
The entire line was good, from Ciron Black on the left to Carnell Stewart on the right. You could count on one hand the number of missed blocks, and you'd probably still have some fingers left over.
And of course, in that big 4th quarter and on those fourth downs, the offensive line came up huge. All game, however, there were none of the major breakdowns that made the Tulane and Mississippi State games occasionally "interesting".
What we rarely saw, however, was the offensive linemen getting to the second level. It was all they could do to keep the defensive line blocked. That's why we didn't see a whole lot of really big gains. We just pounded the ball into the line time after time after time, and finally won the game doing it. It was a remarkably physical game; the most physical I'd seen since, oh, maybe the 2001 Mississippi State game that we won in overtime.
We moved the ball very consistently. We got yards all game. We just failed to finish off some drives, and we missed some field goals. If we had not stalled in Florida territory once or twice, this would have been a very different game.
In the passing game, it's amazing how much this team misses Early Doucet, and how much better we'll be when we get him back. Against a good team like Florida, and without Early Doucet, we just aren't that dangerous of a team in the air. Miles said he's close to being back, and almost dressed out for this game. Brandon Lafell is a pretty good receiver, but it sure would help matters a lot if he was our #2 receiver instead of our #1, and if we had a receiver taking double teams away from him, or taking a man out of the box and away from the running game.
Jared Mitchell, I think, is going to be a good receiver, but he's definitely still developing. I don't know if he's really ready to have the role he currently has. When Doucet's back, Mitchell will go back to his previous role.
On the defensive side of the ball, when the LSU defense was struggling, which happened through most of the first three quarters, no one struggled more than the right defensive end combination of Rahim Alem and Kirston Pittman. On that shotgun option that a lot of teams run, where the QB gets the snap in the shotgun and either hands off to a running back up the middle or pulls it back and runs around end, Pittman and Alem were absolutely abused. Tebow holds that fake a lot longer than most other quarterbacks, forcing the defensive end to commit either to collapsing inside to get the running back or staying outside to guard against the QB keeper. When Tebow handed it to Moore, it resulted in big plays. When Tebow kept it, the same thing occurred. This is a very difficult play to defend if the blocking is there, which it usually was.
Pittman and Alem also missed several free shots at the quarterback, also leading to big plays. At least twice on Florida's first touchdown drive, Pittman and Alem came unblocked off the end and simply missed Tebow, who ran to the vacated area or got off a pass, both for big plays.
When the defense finally starting bowing up at the end of the 3rd quarter, we may not have had a better defensive player than Kirston Pittman. He got that big interception on an alert play. He got consistent pressure on the quarterback. He forced the intentional grounding penalty on the second-to-last play of the game. He was excellent. It shows what difference one person playing up to his ability can do to make a difference in a game.
Tomorrow, we'll finally go around the SEC for this week. There was a distinct lack of interesting games outside of this one, however. Anyone wanna guess who the GeauxTuscaloosa Offensive Skill Position Player of the Week will be? I'll give you a hint. He came up pretty big on 4th downs.