Florida football: 5 takeaways from the Florida Gators' 45-35 loss to the LSU Tigers

Kevin Brockway
Gator Sports

Florida suffered its fourth straight loss to LSU on Saturday night, falling 45-35 to the Tigers before a sold-out crowd of 90,585 at The Swamp.

The Gators (4-3. 1-3 SEC) were unable to get stops at key points in the game on Tom Petty Night as LSU rolled up 530 yards of offense against a beleaguered Florida defense. Time after time, the Tigers converted on third down.

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With LSU up 42-35, the Tigers sealed the win with a 47-yard field goal from kicker Damian Ramos with 1:52 remaining in the fourth quarter.

"Ultimately, we didn't do enough to win the game tonight," Florida coach Billy Napier said. "When you are in a leadership position, there's only one answer. You've got to do better for the people that you are leading."

Here are five takeaways from the game:

QB Anthony Richardson with two big plays, but inconsistent

Richardson threw a 51-yard touchdown pass to Justin Shorter on the second play of the game to put Florida up 7-0. Then, perhaps inspired by the crowd singing Tom Petty's "I Won't Back Down," at the end of the third quarter, Richardson scrambled for an 81-yard TD run to cut LSU's lead to 42-28 on the first play of the fourth quarter.

However, Richardson went through stretches in the second and third quarters when he misfired on his passes. He also threw an incompletion in the red zone on a 4th-and-4 play, turning the ball over on downs.

"I had a few balls behind receivers," Richardson said. "I have to make it easier for them to make plays, I can definitely improve on that."

Overall, Richardson finished 15 of 25 for 185 yards and 109 yards rushing. He made it through an entire game without a turnover for the first time since UF's season opener Sept. 3 against Utah.

Richardson said he didn't feel pressure trying to keep up with LSU's high-powered offensive effort.

"It's our job to put up points as an offense," Richardson said. "We didn't put up more points than they did and that's on us. Regardless of how many points they score, if they put up 100 points we have to score 101. We have to do a better job of that, just scoring more points than the other team."

Third-down doldrums continue for Gators

Florida, which came into the game the SEC's worst third-down defense at 50.6 percent, allowed LSU to convert seven straight third-down attempts from the first through third quarter.

Florida didn't force LSU to punt until the 13:12 mark of the fourth quarter.

Overall, LSU was 8 of 12 on third-down conversions and 2 of 2 on 4th-down tries. 

"I don't know if was one of our better days from a tackling standpoint," Napier said. "Individual matchups, (LSU) won their fair share tonight. We're all over the guy a lot of the time and the guy outruns us or breaks the pocket.

"When we look at it we're going to see a combination of things. We're going to see a lot of things that we can do better schematically. I think we're going to see things we can do fundamentally better and I think there's going to be opportunities for guys to make plays."

UF offensive line inconsistent without O'Cyrus Torrence

Starting right guard O'Cyrus Torrence was dressed but the preseason All-American did not play Saturday night against LSU. Richard Leonard IV started in his place.

Florida still ran the ball effectively without Torrence, gaining 210 yards on 6.4 yards per carry. Richardson was sacked once.

"For the most part, I thought we blocked it pretty well," Napier said. 

However, there were costly penalties on the line. Leonard IV was flagged for a personal foul penalty and right tackle Austin Barber was flagged for a holding penalty.

Right tackle Michael Tarquin returned, seeing his first action since getting injured Sept. 10 against Kentucky. 

Jayden Daniels dices Florida defense

Florida has no answers to stop LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels, who passed for 349 yards and 3 TDs and rushed for 44 yards and 3 more TDs. Daniels kept the Gator defense on its heels the entire game.

Too often, there were breakdowns in the secondary in Florida's zone coverage, which led to easy completions. Daniels threaded a 28-yard TD pass to Brian Thomas Jr., over cornerback Jalen Kimber to tie the score at 21 in the second quarter.

Later in the second quarter, Daniels lofted a 54-yard TD pass to wide receiver Jaray Jenkins, beating Florida cornerback Jaydon Hill in coverage, and putting the Tigers ahead to stay.

In the fourth quarter, Florida appeared to have its first interception against Daniels, but the Jason Marshall Jr., pick was wiped out due to a roughing the passer penalty on Gervon Dexter Sr. It turned out to be a critical penalty with Florida down 42-35 and trying to get the ball back. The flag was a judgment call based on Dexter driving his weight into Daniels on the quarterback hit.

 "We didn't get a replay of it," Napier said. "I wasn't able to see it so it probably wouldn't be right to comment on it. Officiating wasn't an issue tonight. I mean, heck, I think they let them play tonight and that's what I always want them to do."

Billy Napier and his curious clock management

With possessions at a premium, Napier chose to run the clock down with two minutes remaining in the first half and all three timeouts. Florida got the ball down to the LSU 42 but on a 4th-and-1 opportunity, Napier let the clock bleed to one second before calling his first and only timeout of the half.

The Gators tried a Hail Mary pass, but LSU brought pressure and Richardson's throw sailed incomplete out of bounds short of the goal line.

The sellout crowd booed in disapproval as Florida players and coaches headed for the tunnel at halftime.

"It's twofold; they've got two (time outs) as well," Napier said. "You are in a mayday two-minute situation where there's a certain level of aggression you are going to use based off of field position and we never really got to the field position where you needed to be aggressive.

"Ultimately, they've got two and the last thing you want to do is give them the ball back again. So I think it's a delicate situation there where you help try to manage the players."