Four games into Will Muschamp's second season as Florida Gators head coach and the swagger is back in Gainesville. During the same time at LSU, the swagger has developed a pronounced limp.
Sure, the Gators aren't likely to win a BCS Championship this year. But all the hand-wringing that Florida fans and curious spectators did over this team in August seems to have been wasted energy.
You see little motion when these guys hit the field, as pretty much every button pushed by the Florida coaching staff is working well this season.
In contrast, the performance of head coach Les Miles' LSU team was lacking on Saturday, especially on offense.
Are these two teams on SEC elevators, with each headed in opposite directions this year? If so, October 6 should tell exactly which floor each team is currently on.
On that Saturday, mighty LSU visits Gainesville for a game—or do they? Of course, LSU comes in to play Florida but are they still mighty at LSU?
What happened between LSU and Auburn last week wasn't just a bad day. It was more like LSU just didn't have anything going for it outside of that great performance by John Chavis' defense.
The turnovers, poor pass protection for quarterback Zack Mettenberger, dumb personal foul penalties and many other issues made this team look ordinary versus Auburn. That's 1-3 Auburn, who has been unimpressive all season.
What was normal for LSU in the Auburn game was Chief Chavis’ defense. LSU allowed Auburn only 183 total yards in the game. That matched the yards they allowed Washington earlier in the year.
Fortunately for Les Miles, LSU has recruited well for their defensive mastermind. The issues to be addressed in other areas were troubling, though—particularly in their offensive line pass protection.
It is difficult to tell yet if the poor performance was a blip on the radar or something that may be a big deal. After the game versus Florida, it should be obvious to all.
In the meantime, the LSU Tigers are fortunate to have their defense in good hands. If the issues brought out in the Auburn game are legitimate concerns, the defense will be there as they get things corrected.
So, even if the offense is operating with a noticeable limp, their defense will prop the team up—at least to an extent—for any game.
Still, winning regularly in the SEC requires more than defense—even a great one—week in and week out. At present, LSU doesn't appear to be the team they were for most of last season.
The Gators are improving at a dizzying rate each week. Their dismantling of Kentucky Saturday was a great display of how far they have come. Will Muschamp appears to have his team on track.
With the extra week to prepare, many are having second thoughts about what was once considered an easy win for LSU. So, are they going in separate directions, or was it just a blip?
October 6 answers all—at least for a week or so.