Winning the second half not enough for Florida Gators at LSU
The Gators could not stop LSU when it mattered. Tigers RB Leonard Fournette logged 180 yards on 31 carries, constantly moving the chains. LSU QB Brandon Harris (13-of-19, 202 yards, 2 TDs) threw at UF’s acclaimed secondary, and had surprising success. Halftime adjustments allowed Florida to rebound from a 28-14 deficit, as UF tied the game 28-28 in the third quarter before a late fourth-quarter fake field goal led to a 35-28 LSU victory.
- Antonio Callaway is the real deal: The freshman wideout is becoming a magnet for big plays. Callaway finished with three receptions for 100 yards plus a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown.
- New season, same Treon Harris: With UF QB Treon Harris, not much has changed from his freshman year to sophomore season. He can scramble and throw a nice deep ball, but the lack of zip and accuracy on his short passes can quickly kill the offense’s rhythm.
- Running lanes weren’t there: RB Kelvin Taylor was held to a season-low 25 yards on 15 carries. Harris managed a long run of 17 yards, but finished with a total of 20 yards on 13 attempts for the game.
- A humbling night for UF’s defensive backs: Forget about who’s DBU (Defensive Back University), the Florida secondary needs to worry about UGA and the four opponents after the Bulldogs. Costly mistakes by Gators defensive backs led to multiple scores for the Tigers in the first half.
- Heartbreaking, but not soul crushing: It’s a tough loss for Florida to swallow, especially because two LSU scores came on a virtual “Hail Mary” to end the first half and a fake field goal late in the fourth quarter. But the Gators should move forward with their heads held high, knowing they took the best team to the wire in Death Valley and can still win the SEC East.
Offense: C- – The running game never got established and the passing game was primarily dependent on the deep ball. The offense produced only two real scoring drives.
Defense: C – A tale of two halves for the defense: an F-worthy first half was followed up by a grade-A second half.
Special Teams: B – Recovering the muffed punt set up one offensive score, and Callaway scored a game-tying touchdown on a punt return. Failing to defend the fake field goal ultimately cost Florida the game.
Coaching: B- – Somewhat surprisingly, the offense didn’t show any significant new wrinkles or special plays for the big game. Defensive coordinator Geoff Collins was out-coached by LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron in the first half, but made important second-half adjustments that spawned a comeback.
Overall: B – Florida’s resiliency and effort in taking No. 6 to the wire at home raise its grade from an analytical C to an overall B. As head coach Jim McElwain said, it’s a badge of honor that LSU needed a fake field goal to beat the Gators.
Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier tried moving the pocket to aide Harris in the passing game. The results were mixed – Harris hit some deep passes, but struggled on shorter throws. The Florida defense obviously did not solve its tackling problems this week in practice, as Fournette was good for almost six yards per carry (5.8). Forcing LSU QB Brandon Harris to throw seemed like a good plan going into the game, but the UF secondary got picked apart in the first half.
- WR Antonio Callaway: Callaway joined Gators great Reidel Anthony as the only other UF true freshman wide receiver to record two 100-yard receiving games. Against LSU, Callaway notched three receptions for exactly 100 yards.
- TE Jake McGee: A year after a Florida tight end (Tevin Westrbrook) dropped a pass in the end zone as part of a loss to LSU, the Gators certainly appreciate McGee’s reliable hands on offense. The senior tight end caught two touchdowns on Saturday.
- LB Jeremi Powell played, but did not make a tackle. He’s been battling an ankle injury, last recording a tackle in the Kentucky game on Sept. 19.
- K Jorge Powell had ice on his knee after making a tackle on a kickoff in the first half. K Austin Hardin, who had not been expected to play and has been dealing with a quad injury, took over on kickoffs.