Dropped the ball
By Will Dunn The Daily Reveille

October 9, 2006

Baton Rouge, LA (CSTV U-WIRE) -- The LSU Tigers were their own worst enemy against the University of Florida on Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla.

The Tigers committed five turnovers and had a punt blocked giving the Gators all of the momentum they needed to win the game.

"We made mistakes in a number of spots," said LSU football coach Les Miles. "There's work to do. We're a good football team, and we didn't play like it today. We're all disappointed."

After taking a 7-0 lead off a Florida turnover, the Tigers forced the Gators to punt. But LSU junior cornerback Chevis Jackson muffed the fair catch and the Gators recovered the ball on LSU's 19-yard line.

Six plays later Florida true freshman quarterback Tim Tebow tied the game with a 1-yard touchdown run.

LSU responded to the Gators' touchdown by driving 75 yards on 17 plays before committing its second fumble of the game on Florida's 1-yard line.

LSU junior quarterback JaMarcus Russell tried to push into the end zone on a quarterback sneak but fumbled the snap from center Brett Helms.

"It was kind of a mistake on the snap," Russell said. "I gave him a budge; I guess he had a guy hit up on him, and he tried to block too soon. I didn't really get a chance to get the ball."

The Tigers' defense stood tall and held Florida to a single yard on the ensuing possession, forcing the Gators to punt from their own end zone.

LSU attempted to capitalize with a long pass to receiver Brandon LaFell, but Russell's pass sailed past the outstretched arms of LaFell and into the hands of Florida cornerback Ryan Smith. LaFell was hit hard in the air on the play and left the game.

Florida then drove down the field and scored a touchdown with the help of two costly penalties against LSU's defense. LSU freshman safety Danny McRay was called for holding and junior defensive tackle Glenn Dorsey was called for a personal foul for hitting Florida quarterback Chris Leak in the head.

"The fumble was a big turn of events," Miles said. "Several penalties led to the long drive that gave them momentum right before the half. They really swallowed the momentum."

Despite their first-half mistakes, the Tigers only trailed 14-7 at halftime. To start the second half, LSU hurt itself again when junior receiver Early Doucet muffed the kickoff before picking the ball up and fumbling at LSU's 5-yard line.

The ball bounced into the end zone where LSU freshman receiver Trindon Holliday was tackled for a safety.

"I just took my eyes off it," Doucet said about the kickoff. "That's something you can't do. That's something that Coach talks about all the time. The outcome of it was a safety, and we had to kick it back. That kind of killed our momentum going into the second half."

Florida converted another LSU turnover into a touchdown when Tebow connected with Florida receiver Louis Murphy on a 35-yard touchdown.

"Lou Holtz [former coach of the University of South Carolina and Notre Dame University] always tells me that the last five minutes of the first half and the first five minutes of the second half determine the outcome of the game," said Florida coach Urban Meyer. "If you had to say what was the checkmate point today, it was the first five minutes of the second half."

LSU was unable to build any momentum of its own in the second half.

Florida blocked a Chris Jackson punt in the third quarter, and JaMarcus Russell was intercepted twice in the fourth quarter.

Both of Russell's late interceptions came from tipped balls on passes to senior receiver Dwayne Bowe.

"Florida knew with every tick on the clock that we had to throw the football more and they had to rush the passer," Miles said. "That's the difference in their defense is that time really started to be their ally, and they started to know that we had to throw the football."

(C) 2006 The Daily Reveille via CSTV U-WIRE

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