Florida vs. LSU: 10 Things We Learned in the Gators' Loss
It has turned into one of the most intense rivalries in college football, and today's version of the series between Florida and LSU was as physical as fans could have expected.
Ultimately, the Tigers came away with a 17-6 win over their SEC counterparts.
The contest was a frustrating one for Florida fans. Many of the problems the Gators have encountered this season plagued them yet again in the loss. However, a number of new problems and storylines emerged from their contest with the Bayou Bengals.
Tyler Murphy Is Human
Tyler Murphy faced his toughest test of the season, and he took his fair share of lumps.
The Gators' offensive struggles did not entirely result from his own personal inconsistency, but he made a number of mistakes. He overthrew a potential touchdown late in the game and was out of sync with his receivers. He was not as decisive as he had been prior to this game.
Of course, he didn't have much time to locate an open man and throw the ball. Still, his inexperience finally caught up with him on the big stage.
Kelvin Taylor Has Promise
Kelvin Taylor saw his first extensive action of the season, and he made the most of it.
In a game where Matt Jones left due to injury and Mack Brown struggled to find lanes, Taylor actually busted off a few good runs in the second half. He made decisive cuts and ran with a purpose.
Whenever the Gators had success on the ground, Taylor was the one toting the rock. Depending on the severity of Jones' injury, he may have an increased workload in the coming weeks.
The Gators Clutch Gene Is Gone
Remember last season when the Gators had the ability to mount comebacks in the second half?
Those days are long gone.
For whatever reason, Florida's sense of urgency is absent in the second half. Many times, the Gators can start to muster a drive. However, it always falls apart. In the Miami game, turnovers were the killer. Against LSU, there was simply no execution.
Whenever Florida needs someone to make a momentum-altering play, no one can seem to step up. For the second time this season, the team paid the price.
The Play Calls Are Still Too Conservative
Once again, the Florida offense was very predictable. LSU could anticipate what play was coming on every down, and there was no element of surprise in the Gators attack.
Although you have to give offensive coordinator Brent Pease credit for continuously trying to ignite the ground game, which somewhat happened in the third quarter, there came a point in the second half when one was expecting Florida to go to the air for an explosive play. It never did, but it ultimately didn't matter because of poor offensive line play.
Every time the Gators struggle, it seems that the offense lacks variety. That was the case again in this game.
The Gators Are Better on 4th Down Than 3rd Down
The Gators were only able to convert on six of their 17 third-down attempts. However, fourth down was a different story.
They were able to convert on a couple of gutsy calls on the final down. The most memorable example was Kyle Christy's pass to Neiron Ball on a punt fake late in the game. This was a key play in the Gators' comeback attempt that fell short.
Of course, the fact that they were forced to make a number of fourth-down attempts shows how ineffectively the offense sustained drives. That's the bigger takeaway.
Florida's Front 7 Can Be Outworked
Against the bottom-dwellers of the SEC, the Gators defensive line and linebackers were able to dominate the line of scrimmage and stuff opponents.
But a heavyweight like LSU proved to be a challenge for both units.
The Tigers had no trouble running the football down Florida's throat. The Gators could not shed blocks and get to the runner.
Likewise, they struggled to pressure the quarterback. Murphy was under duress the entire game. Zach Mettenberger was not.
The Gators were soundly beat up-front, and that's a troubling sign moving forward.
The Gators Secondary Can Be Too Aggressive
LSU didn't throw the ball very much. When it did, the Gators had problems, particularly in the first half.
Cody Riggs and Marcus Roberson were both called for costly pass-interference infractions. Loucheiz Purifoy could not keep tight coverage on his man either.
Vernon Hargreaves played well once again, but no one made the big interception or forced the key fumble.
The Gators looked like they were trying too hard to make the earth-shattering tackle or big hit that would energize the team. As a result, their fundamentals suffered.
Francisco Velez Can Kick
Most Gators fans probably never even heard of Francisco Velez before Saturday's game. However, he managed to do something that Austin Hardin struggled with during the early part of the season: make field goals.
Granted, they weren't exactly the most difficult of kicks. However, his early conversion in the first quarter looked like it could become one of the key moments in the game. Furthermore, he looked poised in a hostile road environment.
Perhaps the Gators have found their answer in the kicking game with Velez. It seemed that way Saturday.
Penalties Are Still a Killer
Time and time again, penalties ruined the Gators in this game.
In the first half, Roberson and the secondary struggled with pass interference. These infractions allowed LSU to find the end zone and take the early lead.
In the closing moments, D.J. Humphries (pictured) was guilty of two false starts on Florida's final drive. The Gators should have easily gotten a field goal to close the gap to eight. Instead, they went backward and came away with nothing.
It's the same every week. The Gators can't seem to get out of their own way.
Florida's National Title Hopes Are Dashed
With two losses, the Gators are still in contention for the SEC East crown and even a conference championship. However, their national title hopes are now gone.
As dominating as their defense can be, the Gators simply do not have the firepower to compete with the elite teams in the country. On its worst days, the offense can't score enough points to take control of a big game.
Still, if the Gators found a way to run the table, they could have tiptoed into the title game with one loss. But with a brutal schedule and a second defeat, those hopes are dashed.