Much like the 2011 Alabama-LSU game, Saturday's contest between Florida and LSU, particularly the first half, could easily have been mistaken for a showcase of lackluster offenses, when in fact it was a face-off of two tough defenses. A six-point LSU advantage loomed almost as large as the lead in the 2010 Mississippi State game, a 10-0 halftime deficit that seemed (and was) insurmountable: One breakthrough, and Florida would have the lead, yet even when we got that breakthrough, the uneasiness remained. No matter how perfectly the Gators played, one blown coverage (hello, Odell Beckham) could scuttle the whole ship.
I'm only about the hundredth person this hour to credit the Jeff Dillman toughness infusion. Announcers noted in the Tennessee game that in the second quarter, Florida was playing second-string lineman. That rotation paid dividends later, measured in freshness and ferocity. That mental and physical toughness helped the Gators out-muscle an LSU line that's not hurting for talent itself. This will continue to pay off late in the season, as well as late in games.
This inspired, reinvigorating season marches, not plods, onward. Whispers of "Heisman for Mike Gillislee" and "title contender" are out there, but let's not spoil the fun by dreaming too big too soon, since the schedule still has tilts with South Carolina, Georgia, Florida State, and (provided the Gators win the East) probably Alabama.
Let's slay half those dragons, then maybe we'll start The Conversation. Until then, it ain't always pretty, but boy, it sure is satisfying. Thank Dillman, who's given these Gators grit and their opponents grimaces, for that.