Muschamp paying no attention to stats
Published: Friday, October 11, 2013 at 6:50 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, October 11, 2013 at 6:50 p.m.
BATON ROUGE, La. — Back in his defensive coordinator days, Will Muschamp obsessed over statistics. He would judge his defense's performance a success or failure based on the numbers on the stat sheet.
Who: No. 17 Florida (4-1) at No. 10 LSU (5-1)
When: 3:30 p.m. Saturday
Well, those day are gone.
Now that Muschamp is a head coach, he doesn't care so much about the numbers anymore. He's more into letters. As in the “W” or “L” that appear in the win/loss column after each game.
“As long as we win, I don't care,” Muschamp said. “Honestly. I got real caught up in all that stuff when I was a coordinator. When I'm a head coach, I want to win. If it takes 51-50, let's go.
“I used to grab those stat sheets when I was a coordinator. Not anymore. There's one stat that matters, and that's winning. Do what you've got to do to win game.
“It's hard enough on Saturday afternoon without worrying about all that other stuff. Just do what you've got to do to win.”
The winning vs. the statistics thing came up with Muschamp this week because many are wondering what kind of numbers LSU's potent offense might be able to put up against Muschamp's defense today in Death Valley.
It is something to consider. As good and as solid as the Gator defense has been (UF leads the SEC in eight categories on the stat sheet, including scoring defense and total defense), it has not been tested the way it figures to get tested today.
Led by quarterback Zach Mettenberger, tailback Jeremy Hill and wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham Jr., the LSU offense has been flying up and down the field (and into the end zone) at a record pace this season.
They're hotter than Cayenne pepper.
The Tigers are averaging 45.5 points and 488.8 yards a game. They put 59 points on Mississippi State a week ago, 41 on Georgia the week before. For the first time in school history, LSU has gone for more than 400 yards and scored 30 points or more in six consecutive games to open the season.
Mettenberger is on pace to break the school records for passing yards and touchdowns. Hill is second in the SEC in rushing (118.8 yards a game) and leads the league in rushing touchdowns (nine). Landry and Beckham have combined for 77 receptions for 1,302 yards and 13 touchdowns.
The numbers are staggering. But Muschamp isn't into the numbers.
Even though he's a prideful defensive guy, Muschamp said he'd be fine with the Gators giving up 50 points today as long as they score one more than that.
“Absolutely,” he said. “And then we'd watch the film on Sunday and figure out what we need to do to get better.”
But could the emotional Muschamp physically endure a 51-50 game?
Muschamp laughed and said, “Winning is all that matters.”
LSU's offense has shown it is capable of scoring 50 points (or more). But can the Tigers do it against the best defense, statistically, in the SEC?
Mettenberger said it's a big challenge.
“I think Florida has a combination of both athleticism and great schemes,” Mettenberger said. “They have a great defensive coordinator, but they also have tremendous athleticism on the defensive side of the ball. They have big guys that can run, linebackers that can cover and corners that cover very well.
“We will have our opportunities to be man-on-man with the defense and hopefully we can score more times than not against them.”
The UF defensive players promise this will be the toughest test of the season so far for Mettenberger and the LSU offense.
“I don't think anybody in the country is playing better defense than we are,” junior defensive tackle Darious Cummings said. “We haven't even reached our max yet. We have that relentless effort and we're not taking no for an answer. We get challenged week in and week out to be the best.”
Cummings said he doesn't expect today's game to get away from the defense and turn into an offensive shootout.
“Oh, not at all. No sir,” he said. “We're not going to allow ourselves to let that happen. Coach Muschamp is a defensive coach and a great mind, and he's going to adjust and we're going to get it done.
“We're going to go out there and do our jobs. We're going to try and stop them the best we can.”
Outside linebacker Ronald Powell said the goal of the defense is not necessarily to hold the Tigers to a certain number or yards or points.
“Our goal is to just come out and play Gator football,” he said. “We're not going to roll the hat out (and not play hard).
“We're going to come out there as juiced up as we can, come out and play our football, play smart football and let the plays come to us.”
If that strategy fails, the Gators might find themselves having to score a bunch of points to keep up, something the offense has not shown an ability to do this season.
The Gators are 13th in the SEC in scoring offense (25.0 points a game). Back to those statistics again.
“I think we're capable of (keeping up in a shootout),” quarterback Tyler Murphy said. “But with the defense we have, I think it's just as important that we take care of the ball, try to stay on the field as much as possible.
“If we do that, if we keep their offense off the field, I think we can be successful.”
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.