Gators outplayed by Tigers
Published: Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 9:15 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 12, 2013 at 9:45 p.m.
BATON ROUGE, La. — The talk all week leading up to Saturday’s game between Florida and LSU centered around future NFL wide receivers going against future NFL defensive backs and the possibility that this could turn into an offensive shootout in Death Valley.
1. In only his third career start, quarterback Tyler Murphy was sacked four times and had little or no time to find his receivers. He completed only 15 of 27 passes for 115 yards.
2. The UF defense limited the potent Tigers to only 17 points, but gave up some big plays in the passing game and got gutted in the running game, giving up 121 rushing yards to Jeremy Hill.
3. Florida’s only points came from walk-on kicker Francisco Velez, who learned just before kickoff that he’d won the starting job. He made field goals of 44 and 27 yards to keep the Gators in the hunt.
— Robbie Andreu
Lost in all the hype about lots of potential points and big plays was one simple truth: The SEC is still a line-of-scrimmage league, something Will Muschamp has been stressing since his arrival at Florida three years ago.
That’s the best explanation for the No. 17 Gators’ 17-6 loss to No. 10 LSU on Saturday before a Tiger Stadium crowd of 92,980.
They lost both lines of scrimmage — and therefore lost the game.
“It was a line-of-scrimmage game,” senior offensive guard Jon Halapio said. “We knew that coming into the game. It was all on the offensive line and the defensive line. We just got outworked and outplayed.
“We’ve got to do a better job preparing for stuff like this.”
This is a game and an outcome that is easy to break down.
The Gators could not protect their quarterback (Tyler Murphy), could not consistently run the football and could not stop the run.
The Tigers protected their quarterback (Zach Mettenberger), cleared the way for their tailback (Jeremy Hill) to rush for 121 yards and stuffed the Florida run for most of the day.
“Our guys fought hard, but we didn’t win enough on the line of scrimmage,” Muschamp said. “We still have everything sitting in front of us as far as the SEC East is concerned. That’s what we need to look forward to.
“I’m disappointed we didn’t get the win. Just disappointed we didn’t play the run better defensively and be more productive running the ball overall.”
The Gators (4-2 overall and 3-1 in SEC), who lost starting tailback Matt Jones to a knee injury in the first half, were outgained on the ground 175 yards to 111.
UF’s passing game was even less effective.
Murphy rarely had enough time to make anything positive happen in the passing game. He was sacked four times, pressured almost every time he dropped into the pocket and managed to complete just 15 of 27 passes for only 115 yards.
UF’s only points came on field goals of 44 and 27 yards by walk-on kicker Francisco Velez, who learned just before kickoff Saturday that he’d be starting ahead of the struggling Austin Hardin.
“They did a good job of applying pressure to us,” Murphy said. “I didn’t do a good job of getting rid of the ball quick enough. That’s something I am really going to have to evaluate and get better at. Teams are going to do that all season, and I want to be successful.
“If you want to be successful on offense, that’s something you are going to have to overcome. Things don’t get easier from here on out. We’ve got to get better. I’ve got to continue working on getting better.”
As poorly as the offense played, the Gators had a chance in the fourth quarter after driving to the LSU 20 with more than five minutes to play. But on consecutive plays, Murphy was pressured into two straight incompletions, UF was penalized for a false start, and Murphy was then sacked on back-to-back plays, the second coming on a fourth-and-27 from the LSU 37.
LSU (6-1 and 3-1) ran out the game’s final 3:51.
“We moved the ball, but gave up too many negative plays that were difficult to overcome,” Muschamp said. “It’s a big concern as we move forward.
“We’ve got to give (Murphy) more time. I need to look at the film, but my initial thought is too much pressure. We’ve got to protect him better. We had several plays we thought we could hit (but didn’t have enough time). It’s disappointing.”
The Florida defense played very well at times and did a solid overall job by holding the potent LSU offense to only 17 points, their low (by far) on the season.
But the Gators got gashed by Hill in the running game, gave up some big plays in the passing game and had two third-down stops nullified by pass interference penalties.
One of the biggest letdowns by the defense was giving up a 22-yard completion on a third-and-17 play from the UF 47 that led to LSU’s second touchdown and gave the Tigers a 14-3 lead with 5:14 left in the first half.
“We didn’t hold them enough, that’s the bottom line,” linebacker Michael Taylor said. “There were a lot of third-down situations. Sometimes we stopped them, sometimes we didn’t, so we have to be better on third down.
“We went into the game knowing we needed to get pressure on (Mettenberger). He had a lot of time to throw sometimes. It was just something we will have to go back and watch and see what went wrong.”
Not much went wrong for the Tigers, who won both lines of scrimmage and as a result were pretty much in command for most of the game.
“We can win all types of games,” Hill said. “We can win shootouts, we can win tough, physical running games. That’s what kind of game it was today.
“Each team’s running game had to be successful for them to win the game. Ours was a little more successful, and that’s why we won the game.”