Rapid reaction: LSU outlasts Florida in Death Valley for 35-28 win
Here are some quick thoughts on LSU’s 35-28 win over Florida:
What it means: The Tigers are now the only undefeated team in the SEC and notched arguably the biggest win of the season in the conference. Florida remains the SEC East leader but falls to 4-1 in conference play with a slew of two-loss teams breathing down its neck.
What I liked: In the first half, when the first big decision came up, Florida coach Jim McElwain realized the muffed punt inside LSU’s 20-yard line represented a major opportunity and went for the touchdown on fourth-and-inches instead of settling for the field goal. LSU offensive coordinator Cam Cameron played off Florida concentrating on RB Leonard Fournette to let QB Brandon Harris get the passing game going. Cameron called a brilliant game, even nailing Florida on a 51-yard flea flicker.
Florida’s half-time adjustments were on display in the third quarter. The Gators forced three punts, the offense engineered a much-needed scoring drive, capped by a two-yard run from RB Kelvin Taylor, and WR Antonio Callaway broke off a 72-yard punt return for a touchdown.
What I didn’t like: LSU’s special teams miscue took away an early defensive stop and setup a Florida touchdown. For all their DBU talk, UF’s defensive backs got outplayed by one of the least-potent passing attacks – before tonight – in the SEC. UF offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier’s playcalls lacked any sign of imagination to catch LSU off guard or mismatched. When his team needed a touchdown to tie, UF QB Treon Harris could not complete a pass, even short passes to open receivers on UF’s penultimate possession.
Who’s the man: Conventional wisdom said if the Gators dared Brandon Harris to beat them, they were in good shape. Harris (13-of-19, 202 yards, 2 TDs) picked apart Florida’s heralded secondary, and made big time throws when he was asked, especially in the first half.
Key play: The fake field goal to LSU K Trent Domingue is a prime example of why they call LSU coach Les Miles “The Mad Hatter,” and it gave the Tigers the winning touchdown in a one-score game.
What’s next: Florida will be on a bye and have an extra week to prepare for a critical SEC East showdown with Georgia. LSU wraps up its non-conference schedule against Western Kentucky.