Florida dropped a heartbreaker 17-16 to LSU on Saturday in Gainesville. Here is the Florida Gators' report card:
Rushing Offense: B-
Florida was always going to be getting LSU’s best shot this weekend. The Tigers were fired up from their stunning loss to Troy and they knew that rebounding quickly from that with a win over the Gators was the best way to change the narrative in Baton Rouge.
Florida though definitely played their part in the contest and it was the Gators rushing attack that carried the load offensively for large portions of the day. This is still a work in progress to some extent, but against a very good LSU defensive front, the Florida stable of backs went for 194 yards and a couple of touchdowns. If you take away the negative yardage plays in the running game from quarterback Feleipe Franks, the Gators actually had well over 200 yards rushing, with Malik Davis and Lamical Perine combining to go for 160 yards on 24 carries. Perine also had a couple of scores as the thunder to Davis’ Lightning.
Passing Offense: D
The passing offense on the other hand just kind of is what it is. Franks is going to be the guy from this point forwards and he will be given a very basic game plan with the instructions to go out there and not make any mistakes. The Florida passing game is going to be a vanilla as they come and I would be stunned if Franks passes for more than 250 yards in a game this season. Even reaching 200 might be difficult as the longest of Franks’ 10 completions against LSU went for just 18 yards.
Against many teams on the schedule, this combination of defense and running game will be enough for franks to dink and dunk his way to 108 yards passing. On this day though, it was not.
Rushing Defense: B-
Going into a matchup against this LSU team you know you are going to have the ball rushed at you a lot. That is exactly what happened on Saturday night as the Tigers stable of backs rushed almost 50 times and picked up 216 yards and one touchdown.
The Gators did an excellent job in nullifying the threat of feature back Derrius Guice, holding him to 50 yards on 17 carries. Even more impressive was that his long run on the day was just eight yards. It was the overall team effort that wore down Florida in this one. Russell Gage has six carries for 52 yards, Darrel Williams went for 35 yards, Derrick Dillon had 30 yards on his lone carry, and so on. The rushing defense for Florida was good, it just wasn’t quite good enough.
Passing Defense: B
The passing defense actually kind of mirrored the rushing defense in this one. LSU quarterback Danny Etling has a number that wouldn’t suggest there was any way his team could win the game. He – much like Feleipe Franks – was clearly given a brief that he was not to lose the game by making mistakes and throwing into coverage. Etling completed 9-of-16 passes for 125 yards and the late touchdown that won LSU the game, but the Florida pass rush and secondary was effective in shutting him down for most of the night. There was no single receiver that killed the Gators as none had more than three catches and the only big play was a 47 yarder to D.J. Chark.
Special Teams: F
Florida lost this game by one point. Extra points are worth one point. Kicker Eddy Pineiro missed one of his two extra points attempted. That nullifies anything good that the special teams unit could have done (not that there was much there anyway) and guarantees a failing grade. The missed extra point was the only difference between the two teams after 60 minutes and you just knew when it was missed that it would come back to bite the Gators in such close game.
We aren’t going to blame Jim McElwain for the missed extra point. We aren’t really going to be too hard on Pineiro in the long run either given that his kicking has won Florida way more games than it has lost them. We are, however, going to point out that the Gators quarterback options just aren’t good enough at this level giving the recruiting platform that the Gators have. The LSU defense was good, but their offense only scored 17 points. In this day and age, you should win pretty much any game when you hold your opponents to take few points, especially at home.