|Gators relive LSU loss, look to avoid repeat|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 10 October 2008 09:40|
In the weight room. In the training room. In the hallways.
Coach Urban Meyer wanted the 11th-ranked Gators to relive every missed tackle, every blown coverage, every one of those fourth-down conversions by LSU that turned out to be the difference.
``It really did challenge our manhood,'' Hicks said. ``It's one of those games you get frustrated because everything is going their way (and) nothing feels like it's going your way. They had the momentum.''
The Tigers converted five times on fourth down, with two going for touchdowns and three more keeping alive drives that ended with touchdowns.
ng between the two previous national champions since Miami and Notre Dame in 1990.
The Gators (4-1, 2-1 Southeastern Conference) are looking for every advantage they can get, knowing they can't really afford to lose to No. 4 LSU (4-0, 2-0) again.
``It's huge,'' Florida quarterback Tim Tebow said. ``Just for momentum, just for confidence, just for defending The Swamp again, I think it's huge. Probably other games might be more important as far as losing in the SEC East or something, but this game is huge just based on everything else, on us losing last time we were in The Swamp, on us losing to LSU last time we played them, on so many things like that.''
Florida lost 31-30 to Mississippi at home two weeks ago, a humbling, error-filled collapse that left players, coaches and fans searching for answers. The Gators rallied around the fact that the outcome didn't affect their chances of winning the SEC East.
A second loss could change that drastically.
``We're expecting their best, and we're going to respect that by playing our best,'' LSU running back Charles Scott said. ``We're preparing for a knockdown, drag-out, fist-fight.''
That's a metaphorical fist-fight, not a real one. Though LSU defensive lineman Ricky Jean-Francois made himself Public Enemy No. 1 in Gainesville this week when he told The Orlando Sentinel, ``If we get a good shot on (Tebow), we're going to try our best to take him out of the game.''
Meyer didn't appreciate the comment. Tebow blew it off. Jean-Francois said he was misunderstood and sort of apologized.
Oh, the drama.
There's was plenty of that on the field last year in Baton Rouge, when the Gators visited.
Florida led most of the way, despite giving up 247 yards rushing and 25 first downs. The real problem was those fourth-down conversions.
Backup quarterback Ryan Perrilloux scored on a short fourth-down run in the second quarter. Quarterback Matt Flynn ran for 8 yards on fourth-and-5 from the Florida 25 in the third, and the Tigers scored a few plays later. And they converted three fourth downs in the fourth: Flynn hit Demetrius Byrd for a 4-yard TD pass on fourth-and-3 and Jacob Hester ran for the other two.
Hester ran eight times on LSU's game-winning drive, including twice on fourth-and-1. The second one gave the Tigers first-and-goal at the 5, and Hester scored three plays later to put his team ahead for good with 1:09 remaining.
``That game is constantly running,'' Florida defensive coordinator Charlie Strong said. ``I watch it. They watch it. ... It's over with, but we know we can't play that way Saturday night.''
It could help that Hester has moved on to the NFL. But his replacement, Scott, leads the SEC in rushing (133.8 ypg).
``We've got to do all we can to slow them down,'' Gators defensive line coach Dan McCarney said. ``We're not going to stop them. Who are we kidding? That stuff sounds good, but we're not going to stop them. Hopefully slow them and be good on third down and get some turnovers.''
Maybe fourth down, too.
If not, the Gators might have to endure more replays.
``We're going to be up for this game,'' Tebow said. ``There's no question about that. We're playing one of the best teams, if not the best team, in the country. They're an extremely good team and they beat us last year in a game we felt we should have won.
``It was really hard to take because we thought we played extremely well that game and weren't able to make a few plays to win it at the end. We're going to be excited and ready to go. This place will have a lot of juice.''