The Gators showed a lot of character in rallying from down 12 in the fourth quarter to take the lead only to hand it back to LSU with mental and physical mistakes in the final minutes. Florida suffered its second consecutive loss for the first time in three years and like in 2007 it was LSU giving them the setback.
Florida followed a familiar pattern in dropping the 33-29 decision to LSU. The Gators did virtually nothing right offensively in the first half, managing just 65 yards of total offense in the first 30 minutes of play. Somehow the Gators were only down six points (20-14) thanks to scoring drives of 17 and 16 yards but the offense was a disaster.
That familiar pattern continued in the third quarter as the Gators drove it 77 yards to a 2nd-and-goal at the 1-yard line only to go backward on two penalties and have to settle for a Chas Henry field goal attempt. Henry missed, but the Gators got a break when LSU was flagged for holding. The second chance didn't help as Henry missed wide left and the Gators came up empty like it did so many times in Tuscaloosa last week.
Gator special teams were the highlight and lowlight of the fourth quarter. Andre Debose put a charge into the 90,000-plus in The Swamp with a kickoff return that made it 26-21 with 14:06 to play. Two possessions later the Gators took the lead on an 80-yard drive and went up 29-26.
That's when special teams did the Gators in. A mediocre kickoff and coverage combined to give LSU the ball at the 38-yard line. Then came the biggest moment of the game. LSU was facing 4th-and-3 at the 36 and called on Josh Jasper to try a career long 53-yard field goal to tie the game. Jasper is a good kicker and had made one from 52 so it wasn't a reach. Instead of kicking, however the holder flipped the ball over is shoulder, Jasper got a great bounce and picked it up and ran for a first down.
The officials then reviewed the play to see if the flip of the ball may have gone forward which would make it an incomplete pass, but the replay, while seeming to show the ball going slightly forward was not conclusive and the call stood. LSU caught Florida in a blitz for a 28-yard gain setting up 1st-and-goal and connected on the game winning pass three plays later.
While many will be in full panic mode, the Gators were never a team that was realistically capable of competing for the BCS Title this year. What they are is a team that lacks direction offensively and comes up short personnel wise defensively. The Gators maintain control of their destiny in the SEC and can earn a return trip to Atlanta by beating Georgia, South Carolina and Vanderbilt. That seemed a lot more likely two weeks ago than it does today with the Gators struggling and the Bulldogs and Gamecocks having their best games of the season on Saturday.
But Florida can't think about the SEC East or anything else. They have to regroup and get ready for Mississippi State and hope to figure out how to play well offensively in the first half. It's the only way this team will ever become something special.
Nothing Special About This Team
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