GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The suspicion that LSU might not be quite the power it was a year ago started in August when Tyrann Mathieu, the Tigers' game-changing cornerback, was dismissed from the team.
Truth be told, the moment things really got off the rails was likely weeks later, a few days after the season opener when LSU lost left tackle Chris Faulk, the team's best offensive lineman, for the season.
The Tigers' offensive line is not what it was with Faulk, evidenced in Saturday's 14-6 loss to Florida in which the Tigers were unable to protect Zach Mettenberger. The offense could not sustain a drive and allowed a brilliantly talented defense -- even without Mathieu -- to get gassed on a muggy day.
LSU finished with a season-low 200 yards, managed eight first downs and was on the field for a mere 50 plays, while its tiring defense was left out there to try to toe the line for 70 plays.
"There isn't too much this offense would say it did well today," LSU coach Les Miles said.
It's become a trend for the Tigers against SEC-quality defenses. In its last three games against SEC opponents, including the BCS championship game loss to Alabama, the Tigers have one touchdown and 18 points, after managing two field goals against the Gators.