Gators lose to familiar game plan

BATON ROUGE, La. -- The game plan for LSU was similar to the one the Gators used in Gainesville during the matchup in 2012. The Tigers dominated both lines of scrimmage and used 175 rushing yards to tire out the Florida defense and run the clock out. It's the formula the Gators have been using on opponents under Will Muschamp, but on Saturday, the tables were turned.

"It starts with consistently being able to run it and stop the run," Florida head coach Will Muschamp said on Saturday. "You have to try to make it a one-dimensional game. They did a nice job running the ball, which makes it difficult.

"We didn't consistently control the line of scrimmage offensively. There were too many negative plays that put us behind in the down and distance, which is very difficult to overcome against a good pass-rushing team."

The pass protection issues started early and didn't go away in Florida's 17-6 loss. LSU pressured Murphy throughout the game, totaling five quarterback hurries and four sacks. Murphy said after the game he put the blame on himself for not getting rid of the ball faster, but there was only so much he could do.

The Gators were dominated up front on both sides of the line, but there was nothing more obvious than the struggles of the offensive line.

"It was all on the offensive line and defensive line, and we just got outworked, outplayed," Florida right guard Jon Halapio said. "We've got to do a better job preparing for stuff like this. We've just got to communicate better, trust our technique. There were times we just didn't pick up the blitzes. We have to communicate better."

It was obvious to Muschamp that the problem was in front of Murphy.

"I think we've gotta protect better," Muschamp said. "We had too many free runners at the quarterback. They did a nice job of pressuring us. We had too many times that he had too many guys in his face. We've gotta get him more time."

The run defense struggled, too. LSU running back Jeremy Hill ran 19 times for 121 yards, and he dominated time of possession at the end of the game to run out the clock and secure the LSU win. The Tigers used a nine-play, 70-yard drive to take a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter before an eight-play, 62-yard drive provided their second touchdown later that quarter.

The Florida defensive players just didn't make enough plays in the run game to get a stop.

"Our guys couldn't get off blocks," Muschamp said. "There's gonna be some situations when you play a team like that like last week and like some of the teams we'll play later on in the year where you've gotta get off blocks and make tackles. Our guys knew that coming in. We didn't do it enough."

And that was the challenge in the locker room at halftime. The Gators gave up 95 rushing yards in the first half and 80 in the second half, so while it got better, Florida was still left wondering what could've happened if they would've played the run better. It'll be a teaching tool for the important games coming soon.

"Just challenged the guys to get off blocks. When you're in a lot of those situations, you can't outnumber them every snap. You've gotta whip blocks and make tackles. We didn't have enough of that happening."

INJURY REPORT: Senior defensive tackle Damien Jacobs was taken after the game with a head injury. His helmet came off on a play at the goal line, and Jacobs was hit in the head with his helmet off. He later returned to the game, and even spoke to the media after the game, so he should be fine for next weekend at Missouri.

Muschamp was asked if there was malicious intent on the hit to Jacobs.

"Didn't look good to me," he said.

Florida running back Matt Jones (knee) was removed from the game in the first half, but there isn't much concern about it.

"We do not think it's serious," Muschamp said.

TAYLOR GETS A CHANCE: This week, Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease said the coaches would talk about redshirting Kelvin Taylor in the coming weeks. That talk ended on Saturday. With Jones' knee injury, Taylor was forced into action -- and he delivered.

Taylor finished the game with 56 yards on 10 carries.

"He was hitting the hole, being patient and just taking what the defense was giving him, getting north and south," Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy said. "A kid like that is very explosive. He was almost close to breaking a few tackles and taking one to the house."

The difference was in his preparation. Muschamp said he had his best week of practice in preparation for the LSU game, so the Jones injury came at a time the staff was comfortable putting Taylor in the game.

Freshmen aren't allowed to talk to the media under Muschamp, but the head coach was happy with what he got out of Taylor in his first extended action. He just needs to continue improving the finer aspects of his game.

"I thought he did a nice job," Muschamp said. "We've still got to clean some things up in protection. Running the ball is one thing, but we also have to block and block the right guy and be in protection and understand who to block. A lot of those in passing situations isn't always on the offensive line."

With Jones getting hurt and Taylor getting extended carries over Mack Brown late in the game, the Gators will reassess the position this week in practice before traveling to Missouri next weekend.

"We wanted to get Kelvin some opportunities and he did a nice job with his opportunities," Muschamp said. "And Mack Brown had some opportunities. We'll move forward. I'll know more about Matt on Monday. I don't know much now."

KICKING ADJUSTMENTS: The coaches gave the kicking nod to redshirt junior walk-on Frankie Velez. It was his first time traveling for a road game, and he earned the starting role with his performance in warm ups. The coaches told him right before the game that he would be the kicker for plays inside the 30-yard line, and Austin Hardin would take the longer ones.

"We just open competition," Muschamp said. "We play the best players, regardless of who they are, if they're a walk-on or whoever it is. He kicked the best this past week in practice. We traveled him for the first time for an away game and he did a fantastic job."

Going forward, the plan is to stick with Velez. Brad Phillips didn't make the travel squad this week after missing an extra point last week against Arkansas, and the Gators will continue to throw Velez onto the field for field goal attempts.

The punter position is a different question.

The Gators looked to be among the most comfortable teams with their punting situations coming into the year. Kyle Christy was a Ray Guy Award finalist as a sophomore and had a year under his belt as the starter. It hasn't gone as planned.

Christy had two chances to pin LSU deep, but both of them went into the end zone for a touchback, creating frustration on the Florida sideline. One of the touchbacks was a 50-yard punt, only his second punt of 50 or more yards this season after connecting for 25 last year.

"We had opportunities to pin them in field position and we didn't do it," Muschamp said. "Kyle had two opportunities and didn't do it. I'll open it up. I seriously considered during the game taking the red-shirt off Johnny Townsend."

"(Christy) is not punting very well."

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