Last Modified: Friday, October 11, 2013 11:31 AM
Oh gosh, but I’m afraid we’re going to need a ruling here.
LSU went into this week fully convinced that it had both the “revenge” and “payback” motives in its back pocket for Saturday’s game with Florida, only to be confronted with the indisputable fact that, well …
Football pants don’t have back pockets, although I’m sure Nike is working on it, with hideous results sure to come at some point.
But no, no. There’s that, too, I guess.
However, that’s not LSU’s problem right now.
Mainly, Florida has decided that two can play this game.
The Gators have decided to play the 2011 card.
Not sure this is legal, but you really can’t ever trust a “traditional rival,” which, of course, the SEC office has decreed that Florida and LSU are and forever should be.
See, by all rights, LSU’s 14-6 loss to the Gators last year in Gainesville was fairly embarrassing for the Tigers, the kind that tends to stick in one’s craw and linger.
It was by far LSU’s worst game against a breathing opponent, the year’s low point. It was the kind of bad taste in an athlete’s mouth that strength coaches harp on and use as bait during those grueling offseason weight-lifting sessions, perhaps even during August wind sprints.
Remember The Swamp!
But now Florida is countering that the 2011 game, the Gators’ last trip to Baton Rouge — two full years ago — was the low point of their whole college careers, maybe their entire young lives.
Not sure this is fair payback. Is there no statute of limitations on a revenge motive?
It would seem that Florida paid that debt while frustrating LSU so thoroughly last season.
Yet we hear from Florida defense back Jaylen Watkins this week, courtesy of the Gainesville Sun, that “We get a chance to go back and try to redeem ourselves, and we’re looking forward to that.”
You and I are both smart enough to know that none of this foolishness will mean squat once they get the opening kickoff out of the way, but it’s still quite important in the buildup for the game.
Message boards and most of the reliable Twitter accounts demand it.
So we must take the Gators at their word that they still have promises to keep in their looming trip to Tiger Stadium.
And perhaps well they should.
LSU’s ridiculously easy 41-11 victory two years ago could have been a lot worse, but was still the Tigers’ widest margin of victory in the series and the Gators’ worst against anybody since 1995.
Even Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee had their merry little way quarterbacking that afternoon, and the force of nature then still known as the Honey Badger was all over the place, making quite the pest of himself.
Mostly, though, in the retelling the game was known best for LSU’s bespectacled Australian punter taunting Florida Gators to the point that Brad Wing’s self-inspired 56-yard run on a fake was flagged before he could cross the goal line.
Yeah, a punter. Getting flagged for it almost made the story better. Maybe that’s why it still rankles the Gators.
Of course, that wasn’t a banner Florida team. It was Will Muschamp’s first and, as one longtime Gators observer told me, “Urban Meyer left him a really good track team, but not many good football players.”
It did seem those Gators were not thrilled to put on the big-boy pants SEC showdowns generally require.
That had certainly been rectified by last year’s game, in which the Gators’ stated game plan, not revealed until after the fact, was to “Hit them in the mouth.”
They certainly did. LSU managed just 200 yards and a pair of field goals, although some promising opportunities were wasted.
Florida’s offense wasn’t exactly a thing of efficient beauty. But the Gators ground out two methodical second-half scoring drives of 85 and 77 yards.
It was noted with idle curiosity at the time that LSU’s tackling machine, middle linebacker Kevin Minter, missed both scoring drives while nursing cramps. Outside of those two drives, the rest of the game, the Gators managed just 77 total yards. It was, perhaps, a sneak preview of life without Minter, which LSU’s defense is struggling through today.
There’s a fair chance that whatever improvement LSU’s defense can muster up will be the key to the game against a Florida offense that still isn’t exactly scaring a lot of people. But the LSU defense probably can’t hide and count on its offense to squeeze off 40-50 points against the SEC’s best defense.
So it would behoove them to maybe start tackling somebody.
Failing that, LSU could perhaps remember that 20 years ago this week — a few of the Tigers were, in fact, born then — Florida beat LSU 58-3, the Tigers’ worst loss in history, and Steve Spurrier is probably still cackling about it.
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Scooter Hobbs covers LSU athletics. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org