Florida takeaways: Gators throw four picks, give up over 300 yards rushing in LSU loss
BATON ROUGE — Florida’s hopes of staying alive in the SEC race died Saturday in Death Valley.
For the second consecutive season, an undermanned, unranked LSU team upset the Gators in a 49-42 shootout. Ed Orgeron was seemingly coaching for his job, but his Tigers have now won three consecutive in this rivalry and own their second three-game winning streak in less than a decade (2013-15).
UF (4-3, 2-3 SEC) inexplicably gave up more than 300 yards rushing and threw four total interceptions, with quarterback Emory Jones being replaced by Anthony Richardson.
"Give them credit," Florida coach Dan Mullen said of the Tigers (4-3, 2-2). "The one stat to me stands out a lot is we're -4 turnover ratio. Three turnovers lead to 21 points. I think that's a big part of it.
"We didn't stop the run and make the stops we needed to in the second half when we started to gain momentum. Every time we'd get that kind of fix to get ourselves out of the hole, we kind of couldn't get the stop to get over the hump."
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Here are three takeaways from the game:
Anthony Richardson takes over at QB
Jones had an up-and-down first half, but ended it on a high note with his 42-yard touchdown pass on the last play.
Jones threw for more yards on that late scoring drive (77 yards), which was 29 seconds long, than he did in the entire first half (66). Meanwhile, Richardson went three-and-out on his first series and threw a pick on his second.
At that point, sticking with Jones for the rest of the game looked like the logical decision, especially after that Hail Mary. But on the opening series of the third quarter, Jones threw a pick-six and was benched for Richardson.
Florida, which has lost three of its past five games and six of the last eight against Power 5 opponents, came to life with Richardson behind center. He orchestrated four consecutive touchdown drives and rallied the Gators from a two-touchdown deficit after Jones’ second interception.
But on his final possession, Richardson’s hot streak ran out as he was hurried and picked off for the second time. He finished with 167 yards and three touchdowns on 10 of 19 passing and rushed for 37 yards and a score. Jones threw for 161 yards on 12 of 19 passing and rushed for a season-low 16 yards.
"I thought you saw some good things from both quarterbacks, saw some mistakes from both quarterbacks. So we'll evaluate that, of how that's going to play out moving forward," Mullen said, who was noncommittal on whether Jones or Richardson will start. "I can jump up and down on the table on some really good things they did and jump up and down on the table on some terrible mistakes that they both made."
Florida’s run defense, scoring D fall apart
Heading into this matchup, Florida had one of the nation’s top-scoring defenses and LSU’s rushing offense was ranked among the worst nationally (127th).
Neither unit played like it had all year Saturday.
The Tigers, who were averaging just 83.3 yards rushing per game, gained a whopping 321 yards on the ground. Florida’s rushing defense had allowed just 108.5 yards per game through the first half of the season.
LSU was led by running back Tyrion Davis-Price, who scored three touchdowns and broke Herschel Walker's record for the most rushing yards (238) against the Gators in program history. Davis-Price carried the ball 36 times for 287 yards, which set LSU’s single-game school record and matched his entire rushing total for the season.
"They ran a couple different schemes. They were running some insert. They were running some counter, running some one-back power," Mullen said of LSU's rushing attack. "But we’ve got to evaluate that. We’ve got to get better. We’ve got to get better up front. We’ll look at the scheme part. We gotta look at the personnel."
The Tigers also matched their season-high of 49 points, which they scored against Central Michigan. UF gave up seven defensive touchdowns after previously ranking No. 15 nationally and second in the SEC in scoring defense at 16.5 PPG.
UF cleans up penalties, but not missed tackles
In the Gators’ first SEC road game, they were flagged 15 times for 115 yards in the 20-13 loss to Kentucky. That was the program’s most penalties in a game since 2001, and more than half of those flags were false starts (eight).
For what it’s worth, which isn’t much given the game’s result, the penalty issues disappeared in Baton Rouge. UF wasn’t flagged once Saturday, while LSU committed five penalties for 45 yards.
However, the Gators weren’t able to clean up the missed tackles that have plagued their defense throughout the season. The tackling woes reared their ugly head again Saturday, as multiple UF defenders missed opportunities to make stops and failed to wrap up Davis-Price on several of his runs.
"Played some solid defense at times this year and obviously didn't in the second half of the game today," Mullen said. "We had opportunities to make plays. Dug ourselves into some holes during the course of the game that you can't do, obviously, when you're playing good teams. We dug too big a hole to get out of there at the end."
Who: Florida vs. Georgia
When: 3:30 p.m. Oct. 30
Where: TIAA Bank Field, Jacksonville