BATON ROUGE, La. — 10 thoughts and takeaways from the Florida Gators 42-28 loss to LSU.
1. LSU Offense is legit
The Tigers came into the game with all the hype in the world surrounding their offense. To be fair LSU was impressive. They were leading the nation in a number of categories, most noticeably in scoring (54.6 points per game). However, they hadn’t faced a really good defense, certainly not one the caliber of Florida.
“The Tigers haven’t played nobody, PAAAAAAWL,” an imaginary caller yelled at Paul Finebaum.
They can’t say that anymore. LSU’s new passing game coordinator Joe Brady is just 29 years old but he has completely transformed the Tiger offense. He’s getting every single drop of skill and athleticism out of Joe Burrow and he bested Todd Grantham Saturday night. There’s no way around that. LSU’s offense is legit. It’s the first time in a long time you can say that.
LSU finished the game with an average of 10.6 yards per play against Florida., its…
– Most ever in a game against a ranked opponent
– Most ever in a game against an SEC opponent
– Third most ever in a game overall
Sometimes you just have to tip your cap.
2. Saturday night lived up to the hype
The weather was perfect. The crowd was insane. The football went back and forth and for 52 minutes the game was up for grabs. Florida and LSU traded jabs and hooks and it couldn’t have been more entertaining.
If only the referees could have matched the level of play that the two football teams exhibited.
3. Florida needs Greenard and Zuniga
The Gators were gashed on the ground. LSU ran the ball 24 times for 218 yards. That’s 9.1 yards a clip and it happened because Florida couldn’t set the edge and keep contain or finish tackles.
LSU had three runs of 30-yards or more. They had a 100-yard rusher, something Florida hasn’t allowed since Damarea Crockett of Missouri rushed for 114 last year.
The Gators need their two senior defensive ends back but with Zuniga re-aggravating an ankle sprain and Jon Greenard playing only a few plays before having to sit out the rest of the night it doesn’t look like they’ll have them back in time for a trip to play South Carolina next weekend.
4. Gators offense can hang
Florida’s offense had warts. They couldn’t run the ball. The offensive line was suspect. Some have complained about play calling at times. There wasn’t much to complain about on Saturday. The Florida offense did enough to win the football game.
— The Gators have 250+ passing yards in 7 consecutive games for the first time since 2004.
— Kyle Trask is the first UF quarterback to throw for three touchdowns on the road against an AP top-10 ranked team since Tim Tebow did so against No. 8 Kentucky on October 20, 2007.
— Florida has 400+ total yards in 9 of its last 11 games.
— Florida has 80 touchdowns in 20 games under Dan Mullen. In a 35-game stretch from September 26, 2015, through the end of the 2017 season (35 games) the Gators scored exactly 80 touchdowns.
5. Perine is getting going
The senior running back is hitting his stride. After a career-high rushing performance against Auburn, he followed it up with another great game in Baton Rouge. He carried the ball 17 times for 65 yards and added two receptions for 12 yards and a score. His yards were tough and earned. He’s starting to get going and the Gators will need him.
“That’s what he is. He’s a big game back. When he first got here he started off going crazy against teams like LSU and Georgia and all the teams that we had to beat. When the spotlight’s on him and his name is called it’s no surprise that he gets it rolling,” – Nick Buchanan on Lamical Perine.
6. Kyle Pitts
Another week and another clear mismatch for Pitts vs. any and everyone that lines up against him. Pitts had five receptions on 10 targets for 108 yards. His 10 targets account for more than 25% of Trask’s pass attempts, so I don’t know how you get him even more involved in the game but I don’t think you can involve Pitts enough in a gameplan. He’s too much of a mismatch. You have to try to continue to get him the ball, force the ball to him. Even when the ball is being forced to Pitts he’s big enough to use his body to shield defensive backs and haul in passes. He’s fun to watch and he’s an x-factor. You have you continue making him an emphasis.
7. Kyle Trask
The stage was huge. Top-10 matchup, 103,000 people in the seats. Night game on the road. None of it was too big for Kyle Trask. The redshirt junior threw for three touchdowns and 310 yards. He was fantastic playing on a sprained MCL. He threw two interceptions late. The first was a pass where he was moving away from pressure and didn’t set his feet. He was trying to make a play but he tried to do too much on 3rd and 1 at the LSU 16.
Kyle Trask, in my mind, proved that he’s more than good enough to be the quarterback at Florida and more than good enough to take Florida to Atlanta.
8. Defensive stinker
Last week we were giving Todd Grantham the Larry Dodd trophy; this week we’re burning the game film. This was an absolutely forgettable game for the Gators’ defense. LSU scored 42. They amassed 511 yards on just 48 plays. Joe Burrow threw for 293 and averaged 14 yards per completion. The Gators could be without Jon Greenard and Jabari Zuniga for an extended period of time and they need to find answers on the line without those two.
In the secondary, Trey Dean struggled enough to get benched for an extended period of time. Maybe Marco Wilson is the answer at Star, he played well there when moving over to fill in for Dean and Kaiir Elam played well outside.
This is the best offense Florida will face this year but this game will stop my talk about Florida’s defense being the best in the country. They’re still very good. This was just one bad game but the best defense in the country doesn’t get torched the way Florida did Saturday.
9. Emory Jones
The redshirt freshman looked good in spurts. He’s certainly athletic and the quickest quarterback in recent memory. However, there doesn’t appear to be a really clear plan when he’s in and I have questions about when he’s being inserted into games. Before the aforementioned Trask interception Jones played the two plays before. Why take him out on third-and-one? Another head-scratcher was putting Jones in after a Trask three-and-out in the third quarter. The Gators came out of the locker room and went down the field for 75 yards on eight plays and scored a touchdown to take a 28-21 lead. LSU went down the field and tied the game, followed by a three-and-out. Florida’s defense gave up a touchdown and Mullen responded by throwing Jones out there. He rushed for three yards on the first two downs and then threw an incomplete pass on third down. It just seemed like a disjointed and ultimately throw away drive when you needed to go out and respond. Trask was playing well and should have had that drive.
10. A consolation prize?
Losing sucks but the season isn’t over. Regardless of the outcome on Saturday night Florida was always going to have to beat South Carolina, Missouri, and Georgia to get to Atlanta. Beating LSU in Baton Rouge would have a huge feather in Florida and Dan Mullen’s cap and not winning hurts but it doesn’t change the season.
“Well, this was kind of like a freebie. When you lose one game everything is still in front of you. You lose two games and then you start having questions about where you want to be at the end of the year. We can’t let this one game affect us and get us down. We’ve got to know that there’s a sense of urgency to make sure we get everything
right from here on out.” — Nick Buchanan on the Gators still controlling their fate