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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.
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.
Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850