Busted coverage increases frustration

The Florida secondary didn’t communicate well against Kentucky or Alabama. They left open receivers running through the secondary, but after a bye week to fix the problems, they were gone against Tennessee. They crept back up on Saturday night.

The Florida secondary played well for most of the night. But when it mattered the most, the unit had another busted coverage that allowed LSU’s biggest pass play of the night.

With the Tigers facing a 3rd and 25 late in the fourth quarter, Anthony Jennings hit a wide open Travin Dural for 41 yards. Cornerback Brian Poole and safety Keanu Neal allowed Dural to get open for the game-changing play, but Florida coach Will Muschamp didn’t indicate which player was to blame for the missed assignment.

“Miscommunication,” Muschamp said. “If you cut a guy loose in that situation, you don’t deserve to win. Just can’t have a mental error like we did.”

Dural ended the drive with an 11-yard, one-handed touchdown catch with Poole draped over him, even drawing a pass interference call. But none of it would’ve been possible without the long play resulting from confusion in the Florida secondary.

“We had a coverage called,” Muschamp said. “They aligned in an empty, we had an empty check. We didn’t get it communicate it to one guy. Ten guys got it, one guy didn’t. We didn’t cover the guy. We had it signaled across the board and had a miscommunication.”

INJURY REPORT: The biggest concern for Florida was the health of receiver Latroy Pittman, who was taken off the field on a stretcher after a blow to the head. Muschamp was optimistic about his health.

“We think Latroy Pittman is going to be fine,” Muschamp said. “He had all movement, and more than anything, it was precautionary to make sure he was OK.”

Matt Jones only had four carries because of an ankle injury. The concern during the week of practice was his knee inflammation, but Muschamp said he warmed up and felt like his ankle was too “loose” to trust it on the field. The coaches didn’t want to risk further injury.

Vernon Hargreaves III is expected to be fine.

CLOCK QUESTIONS: The Florida sideline blew up when the officials elected to put seven seconds back on the clock late in the game. LSU was ready to spike the ball with three seconds left, but the referees blew the play dead and ordered the game clock be set back to 10 seconds, giving the Tigers more time to work with.

“I’m not sure what happened with the clock there,” Muschamp said. “I’ve never been in a situation where they put seven seconds back on the clock. I’ll call Steve Shaw for an explanation, but I don’t know if I’ll ever get any. Certainly we’ll make a call for it. I never got an explanation on the sideline, so I don’t know.

“I’ve never been a part of that situation. No flags thrown. I don’t know. We’ll find out.”

The Florida coach didn’t want to use that or any other issue as an excuse.

“We had our opportunities -- countless,” Muschamp said.

OFFENSE SPUTTERS: The Florida offense totaled 306 yards, with 123 coming on the ground and 183 through the air. The Tigers came into the game with the worst rush defense in the SEC, but Florida only totaled 10 carries for running backs. Jeff Driskel carried the ball 21 times for 71 yards and one touchdown.

“We didn’t maintain drives offensively,” Muschamp said. “We never got much going other than Jeff in the running game.”

The passing game brought struggles of its own. Driskel went 14-25 for 183 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. The Gators didn’t try to stretch the field much, and when they did, Driskel hit just one -- a 73-yarder to Demarcus Robinson. The passing game will continue to the be the focus going forward.

“We’ve got to continue to search for consistency throwing the football, catching the football,” Muschamp said.

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