LSU's special teams have fooled UF a lot; now Muschamp stresses execution
GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- When playing LSU, it's always best to be prepared for the unexpected.
Especially on special teams.
LSU coach Les Miles has not shied away from using fake punts and field goals in his eight seasons in Baton Rouge. The Tigers have burned Florida with fakes the past two seasons, using a fake field goal in 2010 to set up the Tigers' game-winning touchdown and having punter Brad Wing take off on a fake punt and score an apparent touchdown before Wing was penalized for taunting.
"Through the history of their program they've shown they're willing to take chances to win ballgames," UF defensive coordinator Dan Quinn said. "You just have to be on it in terms of your communication and your job, keeping your eyes in the right spot. At the end of the day, [it's] your responsibility and your job making sure you carry it out. That's the big message when you face a team that has the ability to do different things."
What happened in the last two seasons amounted to simple breakdowns. LSU lined up for a 53-yard field goal attempt with 35 seconds remaining in 2010, but holder Derek Helton flipped the ball over his shoulder and it bounced right to kicker Josh Jasper. UF's Janoris Jenkins was racing in to try and block the kick and was caught off guard by the fake -- though the Tigers had called timeout before the play and it seemed everyone in the stadium was expecting a fake.
LSU scored the game-winning TD with six seconds to play.
Last season, Wing noticed on a punt that got called back because of a penalty that the players on UF's punt return team turned their backs and raced down the field instead of watching him. So he decided to keep the ball himself on the next snap, and he went 52 yards for an apparent TD until he was penalized 15 yards for taunting.
Two players -- UF coach Will Muschamp never identified them and it's impossible to tell from TV replays -- were responsible for Wing and they blew their assignment.
"It's just a lack of execution," Muschamp said. "That's what we've got to tie up. In both situations we had people assigned for what happened and it was lack of execution."
Even with Miles' reputation as a gambler, and although UF was burned in back-to-back seasons on fakes, Muschamp said the Gators aren't spending more time on special teams than a normal week. He's just making sure everyone knows their assignment and isn't going to freelance.
That's the key to stopping fake punts or field goals.
"It's all about executing and doing your job," Muschamp said. "We have people responsible for the punter and the fakes and different spots in every call that we have. It's about guys going out and executing. That's really all it takes."
Miles hasn't called a fake punt or field goal this season. But he admits his reputation as a gambler probably causes opposing coaches some anxiety as they prepare for the Tigers, which he said is helpful.
"If there's a feel of, 'Let's play more safe and more moderate,' there's probably some good news to that," Miles said. "It allows us to execute what would be our normal kicking game.
"To be honest with you, trying it a lot is not something that I want to do, I promise you. Many times we go into game weeks without a thing [planned], but it's just kind of specific to each year."
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