LSU's sputtering offense exposed by Gators

Oct 11, 2009 - 5:21 AM By BRETT MARTEL AP Sports Writer

BATON ROUGE, La.(AP) -- LSU's offense needed to be at its best against No. 1 Florida's veteran defense.

Instead, the fourth-ranked Tigers sputtered worse than they had all season - worse than they had in years.

"Tiger faithful, I apologize. We will work harder," LSU coach Les Miles said. "We know we have to do better. I'll take the discredit for this one."

LSU had 162 yards in total offense and often went nowhere, or backward, when they really needed to make a play to sustain a drive. They were plagued by false-start penalties and quarterback Jordan Jefferson was sacked five times.

Jefferson struggled through the worst outing of his young career, never getting the Tigers in the end zone in a 13-3 loss.

Much of that had to do with the speed and ability of a Florida defense that has all starters and top reserves back from last season's national championship squad. The Gators entered the game having allowed only two touchdowns and 29 points through their first four games. After five games, make that only 32 points, an average of fewer than seven points.

Jefferson completed only one pass for more than 20 yards and never found his rhythm. He was 11 of 17 for 96 yards and one interception. Though he had trouble avoiding the Florida pass rush, he managed to elude the media after the game.

LSU's biggest downfield threats, wide receivers Brandon LaFell and Terrance Toliver, combined for 58 yards on six catches.

"We knew they had two big receivers that we had to stop," Florida safety Will Hill said. "If we could shut those guys down then we could win."

With its running game also struggling for only 66 yards, LSU had a 13-minute deficit in time of possession and never gave its weary defense a break.

"I was actually surprised how close it was," Miles said of LSU's difference in time with the ball. Florida "played keep-away really well."

LSU's point total had not been that low since a 7-3 loss at Auburn in 2006. It was the least the Tigers had scored at home since a 31-0 loss to Alabama in 2002, which also was the last time LSU lost a Saturday night home game. They had won 32 in a row since, but that streak is over now.

"Too many mistakes," LaFell said. "You play a team with that good a defense, you cannot give them any advantages."

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