LSU’s much maligned defense woke up from the dead Saturday afternoon, keeping 17th-ranked Florida (4-2, 3-1 SEC East) out of the end zone and to only 240 total yards as the #10 Tigers (6-1, 3-1 SEC West) took a tough, physical, 17-6, win at Tiger Stadium.
Florida’s offensive stemmed from an inability to keep LSU’s front four from dominating. Quarterback Tyler Murphy rarely had time to set up and throw as LSU sacked him four times for 41 yards in losses while forcing quick or errant throws at least 10 other pass attempts.
LSU, which racked up 200 total yards in the first half while taking a 14-3 lead into the locker, managed only 127 in the second half. The Tigers came into the game averaging nearly 500 total yards but rather than go with a wide open attack against Florida’s defense, the Tigers elected to pound the ball on the ground where they picked up 175 yards, 121 by Jeremy Hill. Zach Mettenberger, who had thrown for more than 1,500 yards and 15 touchdowns coming into the game, was a modest 9-17 for 152 yards with no touchdown passes.
Florida running back Matt Jones left the game in the first quarter with what was reported as a knee injury after carrying the ball four times for 17 yards.
FLORIDA 3, LSU 0: The Gators drove 60 yards on their opening possession, using up 14 plays and eating up 7:27 off the clock, finishing the drive with a 44-yard field goal by redshirt junior Francisco Velez with 4:28 to go in the quarter. It was the first field goal Velez has ever attempted at UF. Key plays on the drive were an eight-yard Murphy to Solomon Patton connection and a 14-yard Murphy completion to Trey Burton.
LSU 7, FLORIDA 3: LSU answered the Florida field goal with a nine-play, 70-yard touchdown drive that was aided by a personal foul on Darious Cummings that tacked 15 yards on to a 25-yard Zach Mettenberger completion to Odell Beckham, giving LSU a first down at the UF 11. A pass interference call in the end zone on Cody Riggs bailed out the Tigers on third down. It took three plays from the two to get in but the SEC zebra crew missed an obvious false start on J.C. Copeland’s dive into the end zone from six inches out with 14:56 to go in the half.
LSU 14, FLORIDA 3: LSU needed eight plays and 4:14 to get its second touchdown of the game on a one-yard run by Anthony Jennings with 5:14 left in the half. The Gators helped the Tigers move the ball with a pass interference call against Marcus Roberson and inexcusably allowing a 22-yard Mettenberger to Beckham completion in the middle of the field on a third and 17.
FIRST HALF SUPERLATIVES
Tyler Murphy 4-9, 42 yards passing
Mack Brown 9-35 rushing
Solomon Patton 2-27 receiving
THE GOOD: Velez, who had never even kicked off in a game, got called on to try a field goal when the Gators stalled at the LSU 27 on their opening drive. Velez knocked it through the uprights from 44 yards out with 7:27 remaining to give the Gators a 3-0 lead … On the drive to the field goal, Murphy extended the drive on a third and two at the LSU 39 when he refused to go down. Held by the ankles, Murphy made a backhand flip to Mack Brown for a one-yard gain. On the next play Brown powered for two yards and the first down … Leon Orr beat the LSU center and was on the ball when Mettenberger fumbled the ball while dropping back to pass on first down at the Florida 25 … Dante Fowler wasn’t fooled when LSU tried a double pass. Mettenberger took a lateral from Travin Dural. Dural ran a wheel route out of the backfield but Fowler stayed with him downfield and the pass back fell incomplete … Mark Herndon hustled downfield to down a quick kick by Murphy at the LSU one. It was a nice kick by Murphy who punched a line drive that bounced first at the LSU 10 before Herndon ran it down.
THE BAD: The Gators got away with one on LSU’s first possession. On third and 12 from the Florida 38, Mettenberger completely overshot Kadron Boone, who was wide open in the middle of the field. It was a total coverage bust by the Gators … The Gators got away with another one on their first possession when Murphy threw a ball that hit Lamin Barrow in the hands. Barrow had a lot of green grass in front of him. Florida went on to score on a field goal, but the Gators definitely dodged a bullet … On LSU’s touchdown on the first play of the second quarter, a run by J.C. Copeland that barely got the six inches needed for the score, the SEC zebra crew missed an obvious false start by LSU right guard Trae Turner. Muschamp was seen on the sideline letting the referee have it on the sideline after the play … Vernon Hargreaves III had an interception but allowed Jarvis Landry to muscle the ball away from him for a 29-yard completion … On Florida’s second possession, the Gators had a third and two at the UF 33. The play call was a power play between the tackles with Kelvin Taylor carrying. No one was fooled and the net was a two-yard loss … On second and five from the LSU 37 on Florida’s final possession of the half, Murphy rolled right and had a wide open Quinton Dunbar inside the LSU 25, but the throw was too high.
THE UGLY: Loucheiz Purifoy missed a tackle on a first quarter Mettenberger pass to Odell Beckham that Beckham turned into a 25-yard gain. Adding insult to injury, Darious Cummings got flagged for roughing the passer on the play, turning it into a net 40-yard gain to the Florida 11 … Micah Eugene ran through a gap in the Florida line to sack Murphy for an 11-yard loss in the second quarter. LSU brought six and the Gators had six to block, but nobody bothered to account for Eugene … The Gators gave up a 22-yard completion in the middle of the field from Mettenberger to Odell Beckham on a third and 17 .
FLORIDA 6, LSU 14: Velez knocked down his second field goal of the game, a 27-yarder with 12:11 left in the game to cap off a 10-play, 41-yard drive on which freshman Kelvin Taylor carried six times for 34 yards. Big plays on the drive were a 15-yard run by Taylor and a 9-yard Murphy completion to Quinton Dunbar for nine yards. The Gators got inside the LSU 10 on a half the distance penalty by Jeremauria Rascoe, who ripped the helmet off Murphy’s head on a quarterback sneak that might have come up short.
LSU 17, FLORIDA 6: Colby Delahoussaye kicked a 31-yard field goal with 7:58 to go in the game to cap an eight-play, 61-yard scoring drive. Key plays were runs of 11 and 26 yards by Jeremy Hill and a 12-yard Mettenberger completion to Jarvis Landry.
Murphy 15-27 passing, 129 yards
Brown 15-56 rushing
Taylor 10-51 rushing
Dunbar 3-30 receiving
Patton 3-32 receiving, 33 yard kickoff return
THE GOOD: The Gators rolled the dice on their second possession of the third quarter, going for it on fourth and one from their own 38. The Gators ran an option to the right side with Mack Brown taking the pitch to go eight yards for a first down … After giving up a 30-yard gain on a Mettenberger to Jeremy Hill completion on LSU’s first play of the half, the Florida defense shut down the Tigers on the next three plays, then got the Tigers off the field on four plays their next possession … Kelvin Taylor got the bulk of the carries on Florida’s scoring drive … Vernon Hargreaves made a spectacular play in the end zone against Jarvis Landry, breaking up a third down pass that forced LSU to kick a field goal … Murphy avoided at least five sacks with his mobility … The Gators gambled on a fourth and five from the Florida 30, throwing from punt formation with Kyle Christy picking up 14 yards with a nice throw to linebacker Neiron Ball … Given time to throw, Murphy had consecutive completions of 20 yards to Dunbar and six to Demarcus Robinson.
THE BAD: The Gators moved the ball nicely on their opening drive of the third quarter to midfield where they faced a second and five, but consecutive completions on dump passes netted zero yards, forcing the Gators to punt. The play calls were all too predictable … Fullback Gideon Ajagbe got called for a hold to nullify a huge gain on a reverse by Patton. Ajagbe’s hold was a takedown worthy of an instant replay on WWE … The Gators missed a chance for a touchdown on third and goal from the LSU 10 because two Gators completely ignored Jeremauria Rascoe, who was able to force Murphy to heave the ball in the direction of Tevin Westbrook. Had Murphy been able to set up, the Gators would have gotten a touchdown because there were two receivers wide open … On a third and four from the LSU X, D.J. Humphries was flagged for two false starts … Murphy missed Dunbar in the end zone on a second and 10 from the LSU 21 …
THE UGLY: With the Gators moving the ball on their second possession of the half, Jon Halapio was overpowered by Anthony Johnson on a bull rush that resulted in a nine-yard sack of Murphy … Florida’s offensive line was abused by LSU throughout the second half. Murphy rarely had time to set up and throw because the Gators just couldn’t get hats on the LSU defenders and the UF backs struggled all day to pick up blitzers or help when an LSU lineman broke free … On third and 15 from the LSU 26, Humphries whiffed and gave up a 12-yard sack that basically killed any chance the Gators had to win the game.