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Theater of Operations, Florida Vs. LSU: Previewing LSU's Defense

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For the second game in a row, the Florida Gators will face one of the top defenses in the country. This time, they travel to Baton Rouge to take on the LSU Tigers. While Alabama's defense may be slightly better overall, and more fundamentally sound, the LSU defense is much more opportunistic. In other words, they take more chances.

But the Gators, unlike a lot of other teams, have had decent luck playing in Baton Rouge over the years. Since a loss in Baton Rouge in 1997, the Gators have gotten wins in 1999, 2001, 2003, and 2009. Yes, that 2003 LSU team went on to win BCS National Championship. They have only been defeated twice in Baton Rouge since 1999. Those defeats coming in 2005 and 2007. That 2007 game, however, was a game the Gators should have won.

Here we go again...

Play No. 1: Sam Montgomery's sack on Morgan Newton: (Kentucky game)

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Just a bull rush coming from Sam Montgomery. Hopefully the Gators are prepared for this, as LSU does this a lot.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

As he beats the block, there is only one thing Morgan Newton (green circle) can do to try and avoid the sack: Step up high into the pocket.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Morgan Newton doesn't succeed.

Play No. 2: Tyrann Mathieu's sack, forced fumble, recovery, and touchdown: (Kentucky)

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Tyrann Mathieu, probably LSU's best playmaker on defense, goes unblocked on this play. (Okay: There's a barely-there block by the running back. It doesn't count.)

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

The quarterback, Maxwell Smith, never sees him.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Mathieu jumps, and knocks the ball out of Smith's hands.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

The ball deflects off of a player (I couldn't tell who) and proceeds to bounce and roll 15 yards back.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Mathieu picks up the loose ball and scampers 23 yards for the touchdown.

Play No. 3: Morris Claiborne's interception: (Mississippi State)

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

The LSU defense is set up in man coverage here, which will allow for a decent shot at a big play ... if only the ball was thrown a little better.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

LSU has good over-the-top coverage on the deep ball. But if the ball is thrown with less air under it, the pass (assuming it is caught) will be a big first down.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

See what I mean? This is a terrible throw by Chris Relf of Mississippi State.

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(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Still, though, it takes a pretty amazing catch by Morris Claiborne to complete the interception. He even had to fend off the receiver's arm.

It is somewhat tempting to call LSU's defense "Alabama Lite," but I'm not going to do that. The Tigers currently give up the ninth-fewest points per game in the country, so they aren't really "Lite" anybody. They've also played some pretty good offenses so far this year.

In those games, however, Oregon scored 27 and West Virginia scored 21, so it isn't like LSU is impenetrable. Just really, really good.