*Follow Patrick Annesty on Twitter, this is his second guest post for Bourbon Meyer.*
We knew it would be rough, but the LSU game was downright brutal.
Death Valley lived up to its name as the Gators got blasted in every facet of the game.
We knew the offense would struggle, but the defense and special teams also got worked.
The offense brought flashbacks of the stubborn incompetence of Steve Addazio. Trey Burton repeatedly handed off to Chris Rainey for a dive read up the middle on first and second down, and then we trotted an out-of-sync quarterback onto the field to throw on third. Rather than living up to his clout as an offensive innovator, Charlie Weis looked scared. When your Super-Bowl-winning play-caller reminds you of the most hated man in Gainesville last year, it’s cause for concern.
There were bright spots, but they were few and far between. Mike Gillislee proved he can pound the ball between the tackles, averaging 6.2 yards per carry against the (second?) hardest defense in the nation, but he only got the ball nine times. Trey Burton hurdled Tyrann Mathieu, a photo which served as his subtle comeback to “the Honey Badger”calling him out after the game. And Andre Debose got loose again, scoring the Gators only touchdown on a 65-yard sideline grab. But even then, it seemed the LSU defender gave up after he pushed Debose out of bounds at the line of scrimmage.
Last week, I wrote that a loss to LSU wouldn’t end our season. But it may have exposed our biggest weakness.
Play after play, the Tigers gouged the Gators on the ground, running right through the heart of our defense. Florida defenders bounced off LSU RBs Spencer Ware and Alfred Blue all night. In total, LSU averaged 4.9 yards per rush…on 49 attempts! The Tigers only passed the ball 14 times all night because they simply didn’t need to.
In the past two games, the Gators have given up 464 rushing yards. Let that sink in.
Of course, no team in the country has played harder opponents back-to-back. For my money, the only team that can beat LSU or ‘Bama….is LSU or ‘Bama. But that’s still a frightening stat.
Now, the Gators have no room for error. South Carolina has only one loss, and their opponents will no longer benefit from Stephen Garcia arm punts. The Georgia defense improves every week, and both teams hold a one-game advantage on the Gators. The worst part: they both feature strong running backs. Gamecock Heisman-candidate Marcus Lattimore averages 5.3 yards per carry, while Bulldog freshman Isaiah Crowell gains 4.9 per touch. The two teams already played each other, so none is guaranteed another loss.
We simply cannot afford to drop another game if we want to return to Atlanta.
Which brings me to Auburn. Brantley will reportedly miss this game as well, but with Jeff Driskell back at practice and another week of reps for Jacoby Brissett, the offense doesn’t cause me grave concern. Weis has to know he failed last week and better have something up his sleeve for this game (like a screen pass to the fastest tandem in the nation…get them in space!).
What does concern me: Michael Dyer and the Auburn running game.
Auburn can’t throw the ball to save its life. I know it, you know it, they know it. In three SEC games this season, the (lesser) Tigers have thrown eight INTs while averaging only 120.7 passing yards per game. In beating South Carolina 16-13, they handed the ball to Dyer a staggering 41 times.
Last week against Arkansas, Auburn QB Barrett Trotter completed only six passes with one pick. Even Tiger fans are clamoring for a true freshman Wildcat QB, Kiehl Frazier, to replace him.
Auburn can only put up points on us by running. We must force them to throw the ball.
Auburn’s O-line doesn’t have nearly the size or strength of ‘Bama or LSU. Our D-line, so vaunted when they were recruited, needs to finally live up to the hype and shed some blocks. Our linebackers and secondary need to take better tackling angles. If we can’t get it done on the defensive side, it won’t matter who starts at quarterback. With a loss here, contrary to my last post, our season may be dead.