Andreu’s Answers: Back to drawing board for UF defense

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LSU wide receiver Justin Jefferson (2) carries against Florida defensive back Kaiir Elam (5) during the second half Saturday in Baton Rouge, La. LSU won 42-28. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

BATON ROUGE, La. — Before every Florida game, veteran college football beat writer Robbie Andreu comes up with five pertinent questions and then answers them after the game. Here’s Week 7:

1. LSU quarterback Joe Burrow has thrown for 300-plus yards in each of the last four games. Does he make it five in a row tonight?

He came 7 yards short of 300, but that didn’t matter. It felt like he threw for more than 400 yards the way he kept hitting passes downfield and leading the Tigers on quick touchdown drives. He was nearly flawless, completing 21 of 24 passes for 293 yards and three touchdowns. He made it look way too easy against a UF secondary that is considered a team strength. The Gators had only three pass breakups and never came close to coming up with an interception. Marco Wilson said the backend’s performance was unacceptable.

2. In the loud, hostile environment, will the Gators start slow or fast?

The Gators got off to a slow start on offense and defense. The Tigers drove to the UF 25 on the first possession of the game, but missed a 44-yard field goal attempt. The UF offense then came on the field and had a quick three-and-out, putting the defense right back out there. And in two plays, the Tigers went 75 yards to take a 7-0 lead. It was sort of like that for most of the rest of the game for the defense. The offense went in the opposite direction. The Gators responded to all three of LSU’s first-half touchdowns with three 75-yard touchdown drives to make it a 21-21 game at halftime.

3. How will Kyle Trask and the Florida offense respond to adversity?

They handled the loud and tough environment far better than most probably were predicting. Trask threw for 310 yards and three touchdowns, as the offense kept the Gators in the game until a fourth-and-goal play from the 2-yard line was stuffed for a loss in the final minute of the game. It seemed like every time the Gators needed to move the ball, they found a way. They just couldn’t finish off the two drives that reached the red zone in the fourth quarter, ending any chance of pulling out a victory.

4. Can the UF secondary, which is healthy now, prevent a bunch of explosive plays in the passing game?

This was probably the worst game a UF secondary has played in many years. Receivers were getting open all night and producing one explosive play after another. The 54-yard TD pass to a wide open Ja’Marr Chase midway through the fourth quarter to make it a 42-28 game was alarming. In defense of the secondary, the front seven put almost zero pressure on Burrow and was unable to prevent the Tigers from hitting multiple explosive plays in the running game. It was a losing combination all around for the defense.

5. Can the Gators produce enough of a running game to take some of the pressure off Trask and the passing game?

The Gators wanted to stay balanced and they did, throwing 44 passes and rushing 40 times. The running game didn’t produce big numbers — 146 yards and a 3.7-yard average — but the Gators did just enough on the ground to keep the LSU defense honest and take a lot of pressure off Trask and the passing game, which produced 311 yards and four touchdowns and kept the Gators in the game.

— Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or robbie.andreu@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.


Up next

Who: No. 9 Florida (6-1, 3-1 SEC) vs. South Carolina (3-3, 2-2)

When: Noon, Saturday

Where: Williams-Brice Stadium, Columbia, S.C.

TV: ESPN

Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850

6 COMMENTS

  1. We had a very good shot at a pick when Steiner baited Burrow into throwing it right to him. Went off his hands but that could easily have been a 14 point swing. Vosean Joseph would have made all the difference in that game, instead of sitting on Buffalo’s IR list.

  2. It’s H2O under the bridge now. However, I want to see ‘IF’ this team can get ”jacked up” for a NOON KICK-OFF at South Carolina. Can they really WANT A CHAMPIONSHIP? Win out, and this team’s going to the ATL as the ”2019 SEC East Champs.” Lose another conf. game (or any game) and I guess 10-2 or worse, 9-3 is this team’s (and coaching staff’s) ceiling. I do hope these comments p-off this team off, too. Because really, WHAT DO YOU ALL WANT TO BE, 2019 GATOR FOOTBAL? SEC CHAMPIONS? Just, EAST CHAMPS? Or NATIONAL CHAMPIONS? Because all I see, as of today, is a consistently decent 10-2 or 9-3 U.F. Football team going to the CITRUS BOWL or Tampa every January under Mullen in his year 2. It ain’t bad, but it ain’t ”championship college football,” either. Just maybe this 2019 Gator football team wants to play for some BLING and make some HISTORY? It’s totally up to them now. Not us Gator fans, not even the Gator coaches, it’s totally up to these 2019 Gator Football players now. So… Go Gators! Just win baby!

  3. I miss where the sun allowed more posting, like last year so you could pick up more than just the articles, particularly in a situation like this, where the defense pretty much had its worst game since tommy Frazier of Bradenton put up 64 on us 20 years ago. i know the private equity firm wants money for the sun now, as if the fans should be paying for their overpaying for assets, which is what this is about, i promise. i dont think any money went to giving Robbie a raise. i appreciate Keowee Gator’s comments, just wish there were more!
    Anyway, winning is mostly about taking advantage of opportunities while limiting regrets. The SEC is going to beat you down, i wonder if the defense was just at a low after the auburn effort – i saw us losing that one but winning this one, anyone making predictions gets to be wrong! Looks like Trask has now learned better how to hold on to the ball after being hit, which is a forgivable weakness when you have to wait seven years for an opportunity. the guy learns fast, and i thought they gave jones too many chances in this one, but not enough other days, oh well. im not too upset, this is the best the offensive line has looked in years to me, but maybe LSU just doesnt have the athletes on defense Auburn has. dont know. I like our chances, and we can beat these guys in a rematch at the SEC championship. What regrets from this one should we have? none i can see. Trask showed a lot of SISU, which is a term from Finland, not giving up when things aren’t going your way. Thats huge, maybe some other players can benefit from mastering that trait. As far as Georgia letting Muschamp win another one, seen it all before, they always are trying to help that guy. I will be furious if we dont beat Champ this week with what we have, particularly on offense, and i expect the defense to show some pride and bounce back enough to win, and then we have three more challenges. i was also wrong about Pitts, not that i didnt see the talent, just thought the blocking would be needed more than another receiver. wrong! Copeland is showing more after some early drops.
    The real question to the former posters is, was this game indicative of inability to recruit 5 star players, or was this just a low moment for an otherwise powerful program. i see it as a low moment, but i need some linebackers and linemen to prove me correct. no way do i see this as a reversion to muschamp (or randy shannon, as much as i liked him) levels for the program.Go gators.

    • I see it as a low moment, MVeal. Like you, I thought back to the Nebraska game. It’s been a while since we could absolutely, positively not stop anybody. So frustrating. That’s not to disrespect LSU, which is loaded, but to your point, there may well have been an emotional drop-off after the Auburn win. I like to think that it’s easy to get motivated week after week, but we’re all human. As for Robbie’s compensation, I’m sure he’d be the first to say that the work itself is reward enough 🙂 Go Gators!

  4. LSU offense is high-octane. Defense just so-so. They just outscore opponents. If there is another rematch, the D scheme for Gators will NOT be a nickel package every play. I would hope to see more blitzing to get Burrow, but LSU O-line is very good. Hate to say it but they are one of the best offenses in the country.

    • I thought their O-line was better than I thought it would be. But with Greenard and Zuniga out we just didn’t seem to have guys that could step up and take their place. I have to admit I was impressed with LSU. This was a game that the approach of “biting the head off the snake” could have worked. We just couldn’t get to the snake.