The feel-better theme was the honoring of Tom Petty on Saturday and you couldn’t walk the distance of an extra point (ouch) without hearing one of the Gainesville singer’s greatest hits all around The Swamp.
But when the game was over and LSU was celebrating its revenge with all-world taunting, the Florida locker room had a different rock group for a theme — R.E.M.
“Everybody hurts,” said left tackle Martez Ivey.
Sing it with me,
“Cause everybody cries
And everybody hurts
This one hurt every Gator with a pulse because this was LSU and the bragging rights of the last athletic year are over and because we can’t make fun of Joe Alleva and Ed Orgeron for at least a year and the Tigers got serve back and because Eddy Pineiro, the folk hero, was the difference and not in a good way.
His yanked extra point was the difference and we all know it shouldn’t have been. Florida had all of the momentum after falling behind by two touchdowns with a high-volume crowd ready to see another DVR-worthy fourth quarter.
But it didn’t happen.
Not even close.
LSU wasn’t going to score again, not with three-fifths of its offensive line watching from the sidelines because of injuries, an erratic quarterback and a Gator defense that finally started feeding off the crowd (LSU had 62 yards after the opening second-half touchdown drive).
All Florida needed was to get into field goal position to allow Pineiro a chance to shed his goat horns.
But it didn’t happen.
Not even close.
After two fruitless fourth-quarter possessions with just one first down, the Gators got the ball back with 4:01 to play at their own four-yard line.
For the next 2:15 of game time, the Gator players approached offense as if they were a bunch of 6-year-olds ordered to take baths.
Let’s go, guys, like how about TODAY?!!!
“The sense of urgency wasn’t there,” said Florida coach Jim McElwain.
That’s one question that comes to mind. I’m guessing it is a part of practice, but because we can’t watch, who knows?
The Gators lollygagged their way to the line of scrimmage while fans grumbled and booed. They lollygagged their way out of the huddle. They lollygagged getting the plays in.
And you know what that makes them don’t you?
It came down to one play and Franks locked on Brandon Powell like he was the only player on the field, allowing two LSU linebackers to fall into the route and break up the final pass.
Although, it didn’t have to be the last pass. LSU took over with 1:46 to play. Florida only had one timeout. Simple math told you that Florida would not get the ball back.
They let LSU score. The Tigers would have been up eight with a made extra point but at least you would have had a chance. It’s especially bitter that Florida didn’t because McElwain made such a big deal about Malik Davis scoring last week when taking a knee would have ended the game.
The point being that McElwain can’t have it both ways.
Look, there is no shame in losing to LSU and there is no shame in this team losing to just about anybody. The Gators are down 12 scholarship players and have dealt with a ton of adversity.
They have battled through it all to pull off these last three games, but when you are a flawed team a game like this is going to get up and bite you. Florida is fortunate not to be 1-4 right now.
“We’re going to find out a little bit about this team,” McElwain said.
I think we already know a lot about it. The performances are so uneven they are baffling.
How does a team give up 83 yards on speed sweeps in the first quarter? How does it drive to a pair of touchdowns on consecutive possessions that cover a combined 151 yards and only get 151 the rest of the game?
How does Pineiro miss that kick? How does Duke Dawson miss two possible interceptions on one series? How does Florida run one trick play and it ends up with an intentional grounding penalty?
How is Florida again going to probably be in the 100s in offense when the numbers come out Sunday? How could that official have made the pass interference call on CJ Henderson? Wait, I’m getting off track here. But that was brutal.
The hows and whys are for us to discuss while a coaching staff grabs another handful of masking tape to try to patch this thing together.
Which brings us to the other closing theme McElwain preached to his team after the game.
“We still control our own destiny,” Ivey said.
But it sure doesn’t feel like it.
Contact Pat Dooley at 352-374-5053 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. And follow at Twitter.com/Pat_Dooley.