Continuing a season of ups-and-downs, the No. 22/22 Florida Gators (4-2, 2-2 SEC) lost their second-straight game on Saturday, this time to the No. 9/9 LSU Tigers (6-0, 4-0 SEC) at home at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL. With so much to discuss, OGGOA presents some important notes and quotes.
BRANTLEY MORE HURT THAN LET ON?
Though the coaching staff downplayed his injuries all week, redshirt junior starting quarterback John Brantley was dealing with a number of issues going into the game, reports ESPN’s Joe Shad. According to a “source close to the quarterback,” Brantley has “hairline fractures in four ribs and wore a reinforced protective vest in the game.” Apparently Brantley also has a small fracture in his thumb and was unable to throw on Thursday and Friday because of shoulder issues that resulted from him “overcompensating for the rib injury early in the week.”
Playing injured, Brantley still managed to complete two-thirds of his passes for 154 yards but did give up an interception on a tipped ball at the line of scrimmage. His offensive line did not provide him much help throughout the night, allowing him to be sacked three times and roughed up on a number of other plays.
Brantley continues to refute this report, stating that his ribs are neither cracked nor fractured and that his thumb is just sprained.
DEFENSE SHREDDED BY RUN, PASS
Going into the game LSU’s offense was labeled as questionable with a strong running game but a two-quarterback system that did not have a truly great passer. The Tigers were successful on both the ground and through the air on Saturday, rushing for 161 yards including 88 from starting running back Stevan Ridley and 50 from starting QB Jordan Jefferson; Jefferson and QB Jarrett Lee also matched Brantley’s completion percentage while tossing for a combined 224 yards and two touchdowns. Part of LSU’s success was due to the superior play of wide receiver Terrance Tolliver, who roasted Florida’s secondary to the tune of six receptions for 111 yards and two touchdowns including the game-winner. The Tigers had long scoring drives of 40, 77, 39, 38 and 62 yards on the evening.
SPECIAL TEAMS NOT-SO SPECIAL
In a game where Gators redshirt freshman WR Andre Debose returned a kickoff 88 yards for a touchdown, one would think the special teams would be a standout unit. Unfortunately senior punter/kicker Chas Henry missed two makeable field goals on one drive (the first was negated due to a LSU holding penalty), Debose botched the handling of the game’s initial kickoff and junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins drew an unacceptable unsportsmanlike conduct penalty by spiking by the ball after running a punt back out near midfield (the punt was already coming back due to a block in the back call, Jenkins’ penalty made it worse).
That is not to mention the field goal unit either being unprepared for or failing to contain Tigers kicker Jordan Jasper on his fake field goal in the waning moments of the game.
MOORE BREAKS OUT, FINALLY
Though he has been clutch all season with his third- and fourth-down conversions, Florida redshirt senior WR Carl Moore hand a standout performance Saturday. He caught four balls for 95 yards including a huge 51-yard third down conversion on the team’s final scoring drive that was the Gators’ longest completion of the season and a career-high catch for Moore.
INJURIES (AND A TURNOVER)
With junior RB Jeff Demps surprisingly being held out of the game with a sprained foot, Florida relied on redshirt senior Emmanuel Moody and sophomore Mike Gillislee to carry the load. Moody responded by giving up a fumble after a 17-yard gain as the Gators were trying to put some point on the board at the end of the first half. Gillislee ended up hurting himself and only carried the ball six times for 20 yards with a touchdown. In fact, freshman QB Trey Burton (who had 30 yards alone on one scoring drive) ended up leading the team with nine rushes for 35 yards and a score.
In another adjustment, offensive coordinator and offensive line coach Steve Addazio shifted his starting line around sitting sophomore right tackle Xavier Nixon who has been dealing with a knee injury (and did not have a great week of practice). Redshirt freshman right guard Jon Halapio started instead with redshirt senior Maurice Hurt shifting over to fill Nixon’s tackle position. That would not last for long, however, as Halapio broke a finger in the second quarter and replaced on the line by Nixon with Hurt moving back to guard.
Redshirt junior WR Deonte Thompson was also hurt early in the fourth quarter and did not return to the game. Freshman safety Matt Elam was also knocked around late into the contest. Both players are suspected to have suffered concussions.
QUOTES (After the break…)
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