BATON ROUGE, La. — In a game where Florida really needed to produce a steady pass rush, the Gators had to play basically the entire game without their sack leader and one of their elite defensive players.
Senior defensive end Jon Greenard tweaked a sprained ankle early in the first quarter against No. 5 LSU and did not return. ESPN reported that Greeenard is trying to cope with a high ankle sprain. He was seen in a walking boot earlier in the week back in Gainesville.
Junior Jeremiah Moon stepped in at rush-end position in place of Greenard.
Greenard is the Gators’ second-leading tackler and leader in sacks with 4.0. He has 6.5 tackles for losses, which also leads the team.
With Greenard out, the Gators had issues generating pressure and stopping the LSU ground game. In the first half, UF recorded no sacks and gave up 144 yards rushing to an offense that has struggled on the ground.
There was better news at the other defensive end spot. Jabari Zuniga, who has been out since sustaining a high ankle sprain in the Kentucky game, returned for Saturday night’s game.
Perine and the tip drill
Running back Lamical Perine bailed out the offense on a fourth-and-goal from the one-yard line when he tipped a pass to himself and then caught if for the touchdown to tie the game 14-14 with 5:48 left in the first half.
Quarterback Emory Jones was under heavy pressure and threw what appeared to be a desperation pass. Perine was covered, but managed to get a hand on the ball, then he haul in the tip for the touchdown.
The Tigers are known for their big, explosive plays in the passing game. But it was a huge play in the running game that led to LSU’s first touchdown.
Running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire burst through a gaping hole on the right side of the Florida defense and sprinted 57 yards to the UF nine-yard line.
The Tigers scored on the next play with a pass from Joe Burrow to wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. It was a two-play touchdown drive, a statement for how explosive this LSU offense has been this season.
Later in the first half, Edwards-Helaire gashed the Gators again, running 39 yards for a touchdown to put the Tigers up 21-14 with 3:55 left in the first half.
Spreading it around
Trevon Grimes became the 10th Gator receiver to catch a touchdown pass this season with his seven-yard TD reception from Kyle Trask in the first quarter.
The scoring play was a strong UF answer to LSU’s lightning-quick touchdown drive just minutes earlier.
The Gators have been spreading it around in the passing game all season. Fifteen different receivers have caught passes.
Few fellow travelers
With New Orleans only about an hour down the road, Florida usually travels well for the LSU game. Not this time.
In sold out Tiger Stadium (capacity 102,000), Florida sold only 3,600 of its allotted tickets. So, the scant orange and blue was swallowed up by purple and gold.
This, that and the other
On the LSU radio pregame show, former Tigers’ quarterback Herb Tyler predicted LSU would beat Florida by 25 points. He led LSU to an upset win over No. 1 Florida in 1997 in Tiger Stadium. The goalposts came down after that one. … With the Tigers always wearing white jerseys for home games, the Gators went with their all-blue look Saturday night … Heading into Saturday night’s game, the Tigers had won five of their last six games against top-10 opponents. LSU set a school record last season with four top 10 wins. Earlier this season, the Tigers beat No. 9 Texas on the road. … Also heading into Saturday’s game, the Tigers were 10-1 in October under head coach Ed Orgeron. … LSU has only two players from the state of Florida, the same number of players UF has from Louisiana — defensive backs Brad Stewart and Chester Kimbrough. True LSU sophomore wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase, who is from Metairie, La., was originally committed to the Gators but flipped to the Tigers late in the recruiting process two years ago.