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LSU running backs coach Frank Wilson, left, and head coach Les Miles reacts on the sideline late in the second half of the fourth-ranked Tigers' game against the No. 10 Gators Saturday in Gainesville, Fla. Florida won 14-6. (Associated Press)<br>

LSU running backs coach Frank Wilson, left, and head coach Les Miles reacts on the sideline late in the second half of the fourth-ranked Tigers' game against the No. 10 Gators Saturday in Gainesville, Fla. Florida won 14-6. (Associated Press)

Gazzolo: LSU proved all the critics right Saturday afternoon

Last Modified: Saturday, October 06, 2012 11:41 PM

By Jim Gazzolo / American Press

They are who we feared they were.

Those may not be exactly the words Dennis Green uttered a few years back, but they are fitting for LSU.

All those concerns about a soft schedule, slow starts, miscues and a missing offense proved valid.

The team that claimed it could play up to the level of its competition the same way it seems to be able to play down, didn’t in the Swamp Saturday afternoon.

And the Florida Gators made them pay dearly.

The loss drops LSU out of any national championship talk at least until the evening of Nov. 3. A similar performance over the next two Saturdays will end any dreams of a BCS bowl game as well.

If you took a good look at the product the Tigers put on the field in Gainesville, those allusions might already be gone.

There is nothing on LSU’s resume this season to indicate the Tigers are a championship caliber group of cats.

The Tigers managed eight first downs against Florida, three of which came thanks to penalties.

Their two field goals were also gifts. The first by a silly personal foul call and the other on an equally stupid fumble by the quarterback.

Yes, the Tigers fumbled away their biggest play, so we will call that even. It was the only thing even on the field.

Florida was bigger, faster, stronger and most importantly, much hungrier.

The Tigers were toothless all day on offense and the same way on defense at crucial times.

What is most surprising is the offense. For years it has been the team’s weak link. We were told that would change this season but Saturday was no different.

On the field Florida allowed two touchdowns to Bowling Green earlier in the year, LSU could not get 7 yards when handed the ball in the shadow of the goalposts.

What followed was a confusing sequence that left everyone scratching their heads.

One dive play and a QB roll out left third-and-goal for LSU. Confused by either their options or good fortune at being given the ball so close to the end zone, the Tigers called not one, but two timeouts.

By calling the timeouts, the Tigers lost any element surprise. Still, LSU tried by having little-used running back Terrence Magee — he of the 0 rushes before this game — attempt a jump pass.

Magee proved to be the smartest guy in Gainesville wearing purple and gold when he saw the play was busted and ducked his head into the line. The Tigers' final points came on the next play and you got the feeling that it was over.

The call for that play itself makes you wonder just where this offense is.

All winter, spring, summer and early fall we were told that quarterback Zach Mettenberger was the missing piece to the Tigers’ championship puzzle. He was brought to town to win these types of games, or better yet, make just this throw against Florida.

Yet when it was time for Les Miles to show his cards, he proved he was only bluffing about Mettenberger and called a trick play.

Champions don’t need gimmicks.

Now we must wonder if the coaching staff has any confidence in Mettenberger at all.

He was supposed to make us forget Jordan Jefferson and Jarrett Lee, not play like a combination of the two.

The Tigers better find their big-boy pants quickly because the road isn’t getting any easier. South Carolina is headed to town with a giant fork in its hand, ready to stick it into LSU's season.

A win next Saturday against the Gamecocks can turn this all around, and a championship is not out of the question. But even a blind fan could see that through six games the Tigers look nothing like a contender.

They have become what we all worried they might be.

A good team playing in a great league.

•••

Jim Gazzolo is managing sports editor. Email him at jgazzolo@americanpress.com

Posted By: Me On: 10/7/2012

Title: How is it

How is it that a team of LSU's caliber and reputation consistently end up without decent quarterbacks? Absolutely ridiculous play today. Absolutely ridiculous play this season. Shameful.

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