Update Oct. 8, 1:30 a.m.:
LSU quarterback Joe Burrow didn’t stand a chance against Jachai Polite.
Dan Mullen raised his arms, pumping up the crowd before his team burst out of the tunnel.
Florida’s defensive lineman blew by right tackle Adrian Magee without any fancy moves. No spins, no rips, just pure speed before Polite stalked Burrow from behind like a lion creeping up on a gazelle.
All it took was three seconds for Polite to catch his prey.
Polite dove for Burrow, slapping the unprotected ball from Burrow’s throwing arm and forcing the LSU quarterback to drop it.
The strip-sack, which was immediately picked up by defensive tackle Kyree Campbell, was a game changer for the Gators. It stopped an LSU drive dead in its tracks and prevented the Tigers from going up by two scores in the first quarter.
Polite was just one major defensive factor that helped Florida take a 27-19 win over LSU on Saturday night.
The other factor: linebacker Vosean Joseph.
The duo combined for four of the Gators’ five sacks on the night, constantly providing pressure to Burrow in the pocket.
“Defensively, I thought we played great all night,” coach Dan Mullen said. “We’re in there, we’re battling.”
Polite finished the game with two sacks, a forced fumble and six tackles — four of which were solo. He also had a pass breakup and a quarterback hurry.
His first sack was early. His next one came in the final two minutes of the game.
LSU started its drive with 1:37 left on the clock. Polite broke through his blocker and blitzed Burrow, forcing the Tigers to burn a timeout.
If Polite was a lion on defense, Joseph was the ringleader.
Joseph was all over the field. He led the team with 14 tackles, four solo. Three-and-a-half of those tackles were for loss, and two of them came on sacks.
His performance earned Joseph the Walter Camp National Defensive Player of the Week honors, the first Gator since linebacker Antonio Morrison earned it on Oct. 4, 2015.
Joseph’s two sacks came at crucial moments in the game.
His first one ended an LSU drive late in the first quarter. Tommy Townsend’s punt pinned the Tigers at the five-yard line, and Burrow needed to find four more yards to pick up a first down.
The Gators blitzed with four to the right side, and no one blocked Joseph. He came to Burrow’s blind spot and tackled him for an eight-yard loss.
“I want to say my defense helped me out with that,” Joseph said. “They opened up probably some of the pass rush so I can get in there and get a couple sacks, bouncing it out to me so I can get on the edge.”
His second sack came in the second quarter.
The Gators rushed five, and as Joseph broke through the line, he hurled his body right at Burrow as the LSU quarterback tried to escape.
The sack forced the Tigers to face third and long, continuing Florida’s momentum at that point.
“Today was probably my game, but everybody on the team did absolutely well,” Joseph said. “I don’t want to miss nobody that played on the team today. Everybody did an absolutely great job.”
Follow Jake Dreilinger on Twitter @DreilingerJake or contact him at [email protected].