Sunday, October 12, 2003
LSU stumbles to first loss of the season
BATON ROUGE, La. -- The smattering of Florida fans that
filled seats around the Gators' band in Tiger Stadium started the
chant as the clock ran down.
"Overrated, overrated," they cried, after Florida' 19-7
victory knocked LSU from the undefeated ranks and the top of the
Southeastern Conference Western Division on Saturday.
Never mind that Florida once played LSU expecting to win. This
time it was a different matter for both teams.
LSU, ranked No. 6 and riding in with its first 5-0 record in 30
years, made mistakes, committed 13 penalties for 99 yards and
failed to cope with a talented bunch of Gators who had their backs
to the wall.
The loss dropped the Tigers to No. 10.
Off to its worst start since 1987 and a week after dropping out
of the Top 25 for the first time since 1990, Florida handled LSU
The Tiger defense, which expected to pressure Florida freshman
quarterback Chris Leak, sacked him six times but twice blew
coverages to allow him to complete two touchdown passes.
"That defense was tough, but I just had to keep playing and
keep my composure and keep going," Leak said. "You just have to
try to keep trying to make positive plays."
While Leak was completing 18-of-30 for 229 yards, LSU
quarterback Matt Mauck and his receivers rarely connected in their
worst showing of the season.
The LSU offense, No. 1 overall in the SEC going into the game,
was inept. On 12 possessions, LSU punted eight times and had two
interceptions and a fumble, and failed to pick up a first down on
Mauck, who was 10-1 as a starter, completed 19 of 33 passes for
231 yards. He was sacked three times. It was the first time in 10
games Mauck did not throw a touchdown pass.
"We put ourselves behind the 8 ball every time and it's hard to
convert first-and-20, second-and-30, and things like that," Mauck
said. "Really, it was just penalties. For some reason we just
could not execute at all."
LSU's touchdown came when Skyler Green returned the first punt
of the game 80 yards. It was the third punt return in Green's
career; two of them have gone for touchdowns.
The Tigers' deepest penetration was the Gators 38-yard line
until Mauck's 42-yard pass to Devery Henderson, who caught it at
the Florida 31 but fumbled the ball back to the Gators inside the
20. That came with 2:20 left in the game, as a fine mist turned
into a steady drizzle.
Saban had been concerned about how the Tigers would come back
from a bye week, was unhappy with a lack of intensity in practice
"It's too bad that in this life something bad has to happen for
people to be willing to learn and actually change what they're
thinking and how they're thinking in terms of how they need to go
about things," Saban said.