After a 30-27 loss on the tail end of an emotional week for the Florida Gators football program here are five takeaways from the game against LSU.
The Running Game’s Unlikely Leader
Your team’s leading rusher is injured? Use your quarterback, apparently.
With Florida Gators running back Matt Jones out with a leg injury against LSU, the Gators relied on Jeff Driskel to help move the chains. Using him mostly up the middle, the quarterback had 71 yards on 21 carries and one touchdown. Driskel’s longest run on the night went for 10 yards.
Throughout the season, fans have called for Driskel’s mobility to be showcased more and Saturday night it was on full display. The line got a good push and Driskel showed a good second effort on some plays, especially a fourth-and-one that looked as if the Tigers might stuff it.
The Defense Played Well, Again
Putting together a second straight week of improvement, the Gator defense made some plays Saturday night. Linebacker Antonio Morrison led the team with 14 tackles, followed by Dante Fowler with 11. The team forced five three-and-outs, had five quarterback hurries and four sacks.
The secondary continues to grow with 5 pass breakups, and while there were still some blown assignments, you can see the young defense communicating better and playing with resiliency, as the team was without sophomore corner Vernon Hargreaves III in the second half. As Florida moves further along during the season, expect for the defense to continue to build upon what they have going.
The Magic of the Mad Hatter
Of course that pass by Driskel with less than a minute left in the game was going to be tipped, then hang in the air seemingly for an eternity to then be intercepted by LSU and returned to field goal range. Of course the last-second field goal would be successful and the Tigers would win in a wacky way. Why? Because Les Miles, that’s why.
Remember 2010, when LSU’s lateral on a fake field goal was thrown perfectly parallel to the line of scrimmage, then bounced just as perfectly into the arms of kicker Josh Jasper? Yeah, there was nothing Florida could do then, too. You know why?
Yes, Les Miles.
The Gators had plenty of chances to win, but when you play against a team led by the Mad Hatter, you better make those opportunities count or the suffer the strange luck of Les.
The Streak Is Over
For 32 games, Quinton Dunbar had at least one catch. It was the third-longest streak in Florida history, behind Ike Hillard (35 games, 1994-97) and Chris Collinsworth (34 games, 1978-80). Saturday night, that streak came to an end, as Dunbar didn’t have a catch against LSU.
Like most streaks, they start off slow, unnoticeable in the initial stages. It’s only until they grow do we take notice and even then the historical aspect places relevancy on how people view it. There have been many great receivers to play for the Gators. Only three have been able to have streaks the caliber of the Hillard, Collinsworth and Dunbar. For Dunbar, it’s a testament to his ability to be a reliable set of hands for the Gators during his time at the university.
The Record Is Still Intact
So if you’re a Gator fan coming off this game, you’re frustrated, angry, disappointed, or maybe a combination of all three. That’s understandable, especially after a game Florida had opportunities to put away. However, take a step away from the social media sites, turn off the highlights and take a second to take in the current reality. Despite a loss tonight, Florida is still undefeated in the East at 2-0. While the loss Saturday was disappointing, the road ahead still provides a route to Atlanta.