Third downs doom Gators in LSU loss


Florida entered its homecoming matchup with LSU on a three-game win streak because of its ability to execute on critical plays on both sides of the ball.

But there was nothing money about third downs for the Gators during their 17-16 loss to LSU at The Swamp on Saturday. Offensively, the Gators were 2-of-9 on third-down conversions and 0-of-1 on fourth down. Defensively, the Gators allowed LSU to convert 4-of-7 on third down in the first half and 6-of-14 for the game.

“Really the difference is the game was in third downs,” Florida coach Jim McElwain said. “You guys saw that and there’s no denying that at all.”

Florida’s inability to convert on third down offensively proved costly in the fourth quarter. On one fourth-quarter drive, Florida redshirt freshman quarterback Feleipe Franks found sophomore receiver Freddie Swain on a crossing pattern on third-and-three, but Swain failed to turn upfield and came up a yard shot. At its own 24-yard line, Florida elected to punt.

The Gators got the ball back with 8:56 left but went three-and-out, with Franks being sacked for a seven-yard loss on a third-and-nine play.

On UF’s final possession, Franks threw incompletions on attempts to senior Brandon Powell on third-and-three and fourth-and-three, turning the ball over on downs with 1:39 left. Florida sophomore running back Lamical Perine said the Gators had issues getting plays in quickly enough during the fourth-quarter drives.

“We couldn’t get the plays in so once we got the plays in we had to hurry up and rush,” Perine said. “We just have to get better, going forward with that.”

Florida senior offensive lineman Martez Ivey also admitted there were communication issues.

“We’ve just got to execute,” Ivey said. “Some things went our way in the game and some things didn’t go our way.”

LSU offensive coordinator Matt Canada kept UF’s defense off-balance early with misdirection plays on sweep runs by wide receivers. Of LSU’s first five drives, four went for nine plays or more. At one point in the third quarter, LSU was 6-of-10 on third-down conversions.

“It was just lack of focus,” Florida sophomore safety Chauncey Gardner Jr. said. “It wasn’t nothing new. That’s unfortunate for us. Third down for defense has been our strong suit.”

Florida held LSU without a third-down conversion in the fourth quarter, though an offsides penalty by UF junior Taven Bryan on third-and-3 early in the fourth quarter allowed the Tigers to bleed some additional time off the clock.

“We just came out with the mindset in the second half that we have to try our best to beat this team,” Florida defensive lineman Khari Clark said. “Because in the first half we didn’t come out as strong.”


    • Yep…… Thompson was wide open. Franks throwing into triple coverage just shows how horrendously he sees the field. He overthrows, makes bad decisions, he’s dumb, he can’t run, I don’t understand all the hype he had coming out of high school. I knew he sucked when he threw 4 ints in the spring game last year. All i heard gator fans say was”We got that kid from Wakulla, we got that kid from Wakulla. ” Yep, here’s the kid from Wakulla everybody.

  1. Don’t understand the comments by Gardner. Third down has been their strong suit??? What team are you talking about? The defense hasn’t been anything spectacular on third downs. I’ve seen them give up so many third and longs. Stupid play calling is killing the offense on first, second, and third down.

  2. Deflating loss, what else can you say. Communication problems, quarterback not seen the whole field, whatever, a game that should had been won, wasn’t. not. No sense on pointing fingers, we are under manned, our best receiver hurt, a bunch of freshmen doing their best. let’s us used this game as lessons learned. The team is probably hurting more than we are. Forget this one, on to the next game!!! GO GATORS!!!!!

  3. I did not see fire in the belly performance from the gators. I wonder why no up tempo offense. Play calling in the fourth quarter did not continue like the calls from the third! Why? I got tired with seeing yellow flags all over the field. Coach you got beat by a team that was banged up playing freshmen and had just lost to Troy! I thought the o line played ok and the d line was very good most of the game. I do not think the running game got enough plays. Do we have tight ends this year? do we ever throw the ball to them? My impression of the o overall was 1st down throw the ball , 2nd down run the ball, 3 rd down and long throw the ball, fourth down punt the ball.

  4. When do we call this what it is and that’s bad coaching and something we’ve gotten for 3 years under Mac. We can keep making excuces for him but he’s gets paid +$4M to get results and we’re getting worse! Champ’s defensive guys are gonna and I am sorry but Coach Shannon isn’t the answer to that side of the ball. He’s way too conservative and our kids look confused…the latter is a combination of youth and coaching. The offense needs no explanation because it’s a dumpster fire and the guy calling the plays should never have been hired…there’s a reason he was readily available. The fact he’s still employed or that a minimum his play calling duties have not been stripped from him, is an indictment on Mac and if he refuses to deal with it, then he’s definitely not the man for this job. I personally didn’t like the hiring of Mac, it was one of pure desperation and lack of big names being available and/or interested. Football under Mac is unbearable to watch, at least under Muschamp we knew we’d have elite defenses and that would give us a chance. I do believe Muschamp when he said that if he had hired Roper sooner, he’d still be our coach. Instead, what do we have now? What’s our identity…we have none. Look at what Kirby’s doing in year two…he’s coaching and recruiting at an elite level…we are not. Now, I will say that other than Nord (which for the life of me I cannot understand how he still has a job), I like what’s Mac’s done with the assistants, he’s gone all in on recruiting, with who he’s hired and retained (minus Nord). To offset that, the HC and the coordinators have to be elite and our OC is WAY below average and our DC is average at best and I have no clue what our HC is good at…it definitely isn’t offense or making really tough decisions.

    Something has to change and change soon or Mac needs to go but he’s either too dumb, arrogant or stubborn to do what needs to be done…may be a combination but it’s coaching that’s killing this team and it’s time we call a spade a spade.

  5. Disappointing game…I truly believe the gators win this game with Del Rio…Franks, I think will be a good QB at some point…Several things stood out to me in this game 1) the defense doesn’t look like a typical Florida defense…they look confused with no focus,, they don’t seem to have that aggressive nature…LB’s never seem to blitz, and they seem to be out of position most of the time…I originally thought Shannon be a good DC…but, now I’m not so sure…however, I thought he was a great LB coach under an aggressive DC…Our safeties ( mainly Garner and Washington) are getting run over in every game we have played this year and can’t seem to tackle when a runner is running head on, they either get run over or simply miss the tackle…2.) The offensive play calling is just simply bizarre…without a doubt in my mind…Malik Davis is the best player on offense, Also, without doubt …had he carried the ball at least 20 times he would have certainly had well over a 100yds rushing…in all the games, when, he has carried the ball more the 1 time (1st game) he has averaged 100 yds/game… He needs to be the main back and needs more carries…The offense has absolutely no identity…however this year, our best results have been running the ball…Why Nuss calls for short passing plays when it’s 3rd and 3 or 4 is beyond me… especially, when Franks always seems to zero in on Powell on these short passes even though he may be covered, and , as much as I like Swain…his short routs are absurd…this is the 3rd or 4th time this year he has run his routes to short, …3rd and 4 he runs 3 yds…3rd and 5 he runs 4 and gets tackled.. there is absolutely no excuse for that other than poor coaching…reminds me of the Muschamp era… Franks just can’t seem to see the whole field on short passes… 3rd and 3 …why would you even run these short pass … I’m sure, you give the ball to Davis he picks up the 3 yds. and a first down, with at least a minute remaining on the clock…after all he’s averaging 7 yds a carry every time he touches the ball… Franks… forte, is certainly not the short pass. However, I still like Mac. and think he needs to bring in a new offensive and defensive coordinators to keep his job …Still like the idea of asking Spurrier, calling the plays from the press box instead of nuss.