Meyer: A Few Inches Made the Difference

Execution and success were nowhere near what Florida head coach Urban Meyer expected Saturday night. Despite the struggles, he had a clear point to his team in the locker room after a 33-29 loss to LSU. The team was still within inches of coming out with a victory.

"I told the team it was that far," Urban Meyer said holding his hands a few inches apart. "Who in this room right now that's devastated could've given that much more to find a way to win that game? Obviously, there's a bunch of guys who gave everything they had, but there are still a bunch of guys who really haven't given everything yet. That's what we have to identify yet."

The few inches could have gone either way. A fake field goal from LSU saw the Tigers' holder flip the ball over his shoulder to kicker Josh Jasper, who ran for a first down. The ball bounced and hopped perfectly up into Jasper's arms, but the controversy centered on whether the ball was a backward lateral or thrown forward, which would have made it an incomplete pass and given the Gators the eventual win.

The play was reviewed, but the replay official didn't see substantial evidence to overturn that it was a backward lateral.

"I thought I saw a forward pass," Meyer said. "Someone (upstairs) said it was a forward pass. I didn't see a replay of it."

BRANTLEY'S HEALTH: Quarterback John Brantley was limited in practice during the week because of a rib injury. He also was dealing with a sprained thumb.

"He's hurt," Meyer said. "They're not cracked (ribs). There's something in the side of the ribs, but there's some damage to his ribs."

Brantley was 16-for-24, throwing for 154 yards. He had a long of 51 yards, coming on a crucial third down reception by Carl Moore that extended the fourth-quarter drive, which gave Florida a 29-26 lead. Brantley stood in the pocket and took multiple hits beyond the three sacks.

"He fought his tail off, which you'd expect," Meyer said. "Johnny's a tough nut."

OFFENSIVE STRUGGLES: Through their first 22 plays, the Florida offense managed only 56 yards of offense. It wasn't much prettier in the end. They managed 243 yards for the game, coming away with 4.3 yards per play.

"They were blitzing their tails off," Meyer said of the LSU defense. "They did a nice job pressuring us. I thought we got it figured out in the second half. There's a couple ways to beat pressure. One is throwing the ball, and I thought Johnny was throwing the ball real well. I also thought Trey Burton and some of the option stuff we did looked good as well. Those are ways to defeat pressure."

Meyer wouldn't make any judgments about the offensive struggles until watching the film.

"We have to attribute it to something," Meyer said. "That's our job. We're struggling right now. Six games into it now."

DEBOSE EMERGES: The main positive for the Gators came from redshirt freshman wide receiver Andre Debose. He lead Florida in all-purpose yards for the second straight week, with his explosive play coming on an 88-yard kickoff return for a touchdown that pulled Florida within five points late in the game.

"Andre Debose pulled out that kickoff return," Meyer said. "That was great to see. We need that around here. If there's a positive, it's that we identified an electric playmaker. Now he's got to do it more consistently and more often."

Despite the success on kickoff returns, Debose only touched the ball one time on offense, coming on a jet sweep for nine yards to pick up a critical third down.

"He has grown up as a player," Meyer said. "We knew he was talented coming out of high school, but he had that real devastating injury last year where he had the hamstring rip off the bone. He fought back, and he's got a long way to go, but he's got dynamic potential."

SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS: The focus now turns to making adjustments. Youth isn't an issue Meyer is willing to blame it on anymore.

"That's an excuse," Meyer said. "Miami (OH), that was good. Right now, we should be better than we are."

The frustration on Meyer's face was evident after the game, but that won't solve the issues. It's a matter of finding an offense that the personnel can run, but the Florida coaching staff continues to search for what that is.

"Mystified isn't a good word for a coach to use," Meyer said. "First of all, most of them don't know what it means. Second of all, if you're mystified, that means you're not a coach. We're going to identify our problems, and work real hard to fix our problems. You identify playmakers and get them the ball."
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