Six quick hits: LSU, Fournette run over Gators 35-28; Florida still in control of own SEC destiny

By Adam Silverstein
October 18, 2015

The No. 8 Florida Gators (6-1, 4-1 SEC) faced their toughest test of the season Saturday night at Tiger Stadium in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Not only did the No. 6 LSU Tigers (6-0, 4-0 SEC) pull out a hard-fought 35-28 win, it became the only remaining undefeated team in the Southeastern Conference and left Florida with plenty of questions to answer as it enters the latter half of the 2015 campaign.

“That was a heck of a college football game. It was a lot of fun to be a part of. It was a great crowd. Two really good football teams. And that team that came up on the strong end of it, they deserved to win. They took it to us,” UF head coach Jim McElwain said after the game. “But I’m going to tell you what, I’m really proud of our football team. This Gator football team is a good football team, too, don’t forget. They handled themselves in a great way.”

Before that goes down though, let breaks down seven of the most important takeaways from the Gators’ first loss under McElwain.

Can’t knock the hustle: No matter how worthy of praise Florida’s defense was entering Saturday night in Death Valley, the 12th ranked rush defense in the nation was still unable to contain the unstoppable force known as LSU running back Leonard Fournette. Try as they might, the Gators let Fournette compile 180 yards and score two touchdowns on 31 carries. UF was able to slow Fournette down in the second half (16 carries, 80 yards) but only after he rumbled for 100 and two scores on 15 carries in the opening 30 minutes.

The one opportunity Florida had to get one over on Fournette – a clear forced fumble by junior cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III – did not benefit the team as officials made a mistake and decided the Gators did not recover the loose ball in bounds (they did). On the other side of things, UF could not get the ball going on the ground with junior RB Kelvin Taylor gaining just 25 yards on 15 touches and scoring once.

DBU? LOL. Forget referring to Florida as “DBU” for its tremendous secondary. While the Gators’ defensive backfield has been tremendous this season (and in years past), the one team that challenged the moniker, the Tigers, made UF look silly on occasions Saturday night. Florida got burned on a handful of passes over the course of the game with two defensive backs failing in coverage on separate plays against Malachi Dupre (four receptions, 115 yards, two touchdowns); plus Hargreaves, who picked up a safety’s slack and was nearly in position to make play, failed to fully come through on a long bomb that resulted in a score. Three of UF’s touchdowns came on mind-numbingly bad defensive plays, the third of which was …

Really?! Again?! Seemingly every time the Gators and Tigers square off, LSU head coach Les Miles has some tricks up his sleeve for Florida. Often times, they come on special teams, as Miles has pulled off fake field goals and fake punts on UF with relative ease over the years. So when the Tigers lined up for a field goal deep in Gators territory in the fourth quarter, everyone on the field had to know there was a good chance LSU would fake it, right? Right?! Wrong.

The go-ahead and eventual game-winning score in a 35-28 slugfest in Death Valley was a fake field goal touchdown. An obvious fake field goal touchdown that Florida should have known was coming. Was it a coaching failure or player forgetfulness? McElwain will chalk it up to a learning experience, but it is absolutely a play the Gators wish they had back.

“Give credit to them on that fake field goal; it was pretty awesome,” he said. “Good call by them and we still gave ourselves an opportunity with two possessions at the end of the game to come back and tie it up. … Give them credit: It’s a heck of a call, a gutsy call. … It’s kind of a badge of honor to think they got to fake one to beat us.”

Star is born: After Florida came from behind to beat Tennessee, it was made quite clear on this site that the Gators had not only found a quarterback in redshirt freshman Will Grier but also a game-breaking wide receiver in freshman Antonio Callaway. Well, Callaway did nothing but continue to impress Saturday, hauling in three receptions for 100 yards and returning a punt 72 yards for a touchdown.

He also laid an incredible block on a long reception by junior WR Demarcus Robinson that eventually led to a touchdown. Callaway’s punt return score extended Florida’s nation-leading record to 11 consecutive seasons with a kickoff or punt brought back for a touchdown; his efforts on offense made it clear that he is indeed a special talent and has the opportunity to develop into one of UF’s best receivers in ages.

Not bad, but not great either: Sophomore QB Treon Harris performed well in place of Grier, especially in the first half when he completed 9-of-11 passes for 115 yards and two touchdowns to redshirt senior tight end Jake McGee. The second half? Well … Harris went 8 of 20 for 156 yards, 41 of which came on a Hail Mary-style bomb on UF’s final drive.

The contention here remains that while Harris may be able to avoid a collapse for Florida, he is not prone to go out and win the Gators a game like Grier did in limited action this season. Harris is simply unable to make all the throws Grier proved capable of completing – sideline, back shoulder, tight windows – and his height is a hindrance. He also prefers to move horizontally when protection breaks down as opposed to vertically. Florida can and will win with Harris, but it won’t be as successful as it could be with Grier at the helm – plain and simple.

In control: If there was every a time and way for the Gators to lose a game, on a fake field goal in Death Valley at night to a No. 6-ranked team in the seventh week of the season is it. Florida should not be majorly affected by the LSU losses and will likely remain a top-15 team when the AP Top 25 is released Sunday afternoon.

Similarly, the Gators’ ability to advance to the SEC Championship and potentially, if they’re lucky, the College Football Playoff, is also far from erased. With only one SEC loss, Florida remains atop the SEC East. As long as it beats Georgia in two weeks, the Gators will only have to avoid catastrophe against South Carolina and Vanderbilt in order to advance to the league’s title game. Should UF drop that game, which would certainly be an upset at this point, UGA still has to face Kentucky and play at Auburn.

Florida remains the favorite to win the SEC East, which gives it a legitimate opportunity to fulfill all of its once improbable but suddenly possible dreams. The Gators control their own destiny, at least as far as the SEC is concerned. It’s tough to ask for much more than that considering where this team was a year ago.

Quicker hits: Florida converted a fourth down into a touchdown early in the game with Harris hitting McGee for a 4-yard touchdown … that play came after redshirt sophomore defensive back Nick Washington recovered a muffed punt following the first series of the game … Hargreaves’s forced fumble that was not ruled recovered by UF led to 21 straight points by LSU … Fournette not only participated in a flea flicker but also took a Wildcat carry into the end zone for a touchdown … redshirt junior defensive end Bryan Cox Jr. (fullback) and freshman DE CeCe Jefferson (offense) both played offense for the Gators and participated in Taylor’s touchdown run … LSU outgained UF 221-55 on the ground … the Gators and Tigers are now 16-16 all-time in Baton Rouge … Miles improved to 7-4 against Florida as LSU’s coach, 5-1 in Baton Rouge … Saturday was UF’s first top-10 matchup since Nov. 24, 2012 … the Gators have played six night games in seven weeks … “Today, we flunked the test,” McElwain said. “We’re better than that. And our guys know it. I’m not mad at them. They played hard. They care.”


  1. Rob says:

    I am in New Orleans. Great game. It is one of those times I am proud with the loss. They played hard and the Gators are

  2. Michael Jones says:


    The future looks very bright to me.

  3. ken (CA) says:

    shame we but it happens i disagree with the fumble result they called for lsu but so be it. really cant believe they were so fluid tonight on defense.

  4. SW Fl Joe says:

    Gators showed lots of heart but they also showed that they are missing several pieces before they will be able to restore the order. But considering it is only game 7 of the Mac era, a few top 10 recruiting classes should put the Gators right back to where they belong. Future does look very bright.

  5. Mike The Red says:

    A great battle between two top ten teams. I bet that McElwain has visions of 2011.

    I thought that Treon looked good. Some of those deep passes were amazing. I am not sure what happened in those last two series.

    Our defense fell apart in the 2nd quarter.

    We could not establish the running game.

    Yes…the Mad Hatter did it to us again.

    Go Gators!!!

  6. Aligator says:

    We played with heart and did well. LSU is the most well rounded team we will play all year because of what Fournette, can do. Treon is a good QB, but he can not read defensed that well and it showed last night. I think we will win the rest of our games and then FSU will be a toss up. If we end up 10-2 I think that would be amazing. Go Gators!!

    • Iamtheeggman says:

      I disagree FSU is, by far, a more “well rounded” team than LSU. Dalvin Cook is, possibly, just as good as Fournette. LSU is fairly predictable on offense, they pound the ball and passing is an afterthought. FSU has , probably, a better quarterback and passing attack than LSU. FSU also has “fire breathers and glass eaters” on their defensive line that will eat UF’s offensive line alive. Both LSU and FSU don’t turn the ball over. FSU is number one with only one turnover on a muffed punt. LSU is 2nd with two after they muffed a punt last night. I think, by the time UF plays FSU, that Golson will be completely acclimated to FSU’s system and that doesn’t bode well for Florida. The reports of FSU’s demise have been greatly exaggerated. They are still the same dominant team that, like LSU, has dominated UF the past five years, winning 4 of 5. In the case of LSU, they have now won 5 of 6. Golson was labeled a “turnover machine” before Fisher got a hold of him. So far, he hasn’t turned it over once. No my friend, I think it is wishful thinking to think LSU is the most “well rounded” team UF will play. Despite having 11 players drafted, including Winston, FSU is still one of the best teams in America, and they aren’t nearly as dependent on one person, Cook, as LSU is on Fournette. The last time FSU had 11 players drafted and broke in a new quarterback, they won every game and the National Championship. Fisher, among active coaches who have coached at least five years, is the winningest coach, by a hair over Urban Meyer. To think LSU is a better team than FSU, or more “well rounded” is a hypothesis that lacks any factual support. As for Fournette being better than Cook. Let’s compare how they fare against common foes, Syracuse and Florida, and, respectively, Alabama and Clemson.There are a lot of mid-season shoo-ins for the Heisman that never made it to the wire.

      • Spuntly says:

        Save it Nole troll. No one here reads past your user name when you post, because we all know it’s a bunch of anti-Gator, anti-SEC, hype up the Noles trash. You live a sad existence, FSU is going down.

  7. Mr2Bits says:

    Really wish Mac would learn how to use a challenge……the Callaway catch for 14 yards could have really kept our offense moving. The refs definitely had some home team cooking last night with some of their calls.

    Aside from that, was proud of of our offense and the way we looked after this week. Not really sure what happened to our defense….they looked flat and made some huge mistakes.

  8. HeadOfficial says:

    On a fake field goal, why isn’t the “passer” down as his knee is touching the ground?

    • Mike The Red says:

      I had the same thought.

    • Matt Burris says:

      NCAA Football Rulebook in Rule 4, Section 1, Article 3, Part B it states, “When any part of the runner’s body, except his hand or foot, touches the ground or when the runner is tackled or otherwise falls and loses possession of the ball as he contacts the ground with any part of his body, except his hand or foot. (Exception: The ball remains alive when
      an offensive player has simulated a kick or is in position to kick the ball held for a place kick by a teammate. The ball may be kicked, passed or advanced by rule) (A.R. 4-1-3-I).

    • Joeyto says:

      Exception: The ball remains alive when an offensive player has simulated a kick or at the snap is in position to kick the ball held for a place kick by a teammate. The ball may be kicked, passed or advanced by rule] (A.R. 4-1-3-I).
      Section 4 of ncaa rule book

    • Dave Massey says:

      For the same reason he is not down when extra points and field goals are kicked. The holder is the exception to the knee down rule. The ball can be advanced by pass or kick by the holder.

    • Michael Jones says:

      I thought the same thing but if you think about it, there would never be a field goal because the ball would be blown dead the minute it touched the holder’s hands. It just must be an exception to the general rule either by rule or by tradition.

    • Iamtheeggman says:

      On a field goal try is the only time you can possess the ball with a knee on the ground and still make a play.

    • senuod says:

      Because Les Miles. It always happens to us against Les Miles.

      There was also the fumble recovery that was called out of bounds AND the “shove” Fournette threw against an incoming tackler that looked more like a punch to me, but oh well.

      We played pretty well for a team with a new starting QB and a growing O-line. Well enough that LSU needed a blown call and a trick play to beat us. Hopefully, we continue to grow and get better from this game.

      I also think some people are being a little hard/negative with Treon and his abilities as a QB. No he is not as tall or currently accurate with all of his throws as Grier became. However, he came in for his first game as a full starter under McElwain and played decently well. He had a couple ducks, and a couple miss throws that he’ll hopefully grow from, just like Grier did in his first few games (UK was not a pretty game). Treon showed that he has a better deep ball then Grier.

      Bottom line is, we’re lucky to have two good QBs and a coaching staff that has shown the ability to improve these guys thinking process and capabilities.

  9. Gator John says:

    As I understand it, there is a rule that exempts a holder from being down while his knee is on the ground. If that was the case, then All PATs and field goals would be illegal, since all holders place one knee on the ground. I also understand that he can make the pass with his knee on the ground as long as he doesn’t lift it and then put it back down. Not sure how accurate what I read is, but it does make sense.

  10. The rules make a special exception for the case of a kick holder, or else place kicks would be nearly impossible to execute.

    In NCAA Rule 4, section 1:

    ARTICLE 3. A live ball becomes dead and an official shall sound his whistle or declare it dead:
    b. When any part of the ball carrier’s body, except his hand or foot, touches the ground or when the ball carrier is tackled or otherwise falls and loses possession of the ball as he contacts the ground with any part of his body, except his hand or foot [Exception: The ball remains alive when an offensive player has simulated a kick or at the snap is in position to kick the ball held for a place kick by a teammate. The ball may be kicked, passed or advanced by rule]

  11. gatorhippy says:

    Rule 4-1-3 (b)

    “When any part of the ball carrier’s body, except his hand or foot, touches the ground or when the ball carrier is tackled or otherwise falls and loses possession of the ball as he contacts the ground with any part of his body, except his hand or foot [Exception: The ball remains alive when an offensive player has simulated a kick or at the snap is in position to kick the ball held for a place kick by a teammate. The ball may be kicked, passed or advanced by rule]”

  12. KB says:

    While I hate moral victories there was something to be said for the way that Gator team went down in a fight Saturday night. I said it before that UF has two signal callers capable of operating and executing the offense. I think there is a clear distinction between Treon and Will that I could see and have seen so far this season. It is that intermediate throw 5 -15 yds in the middle of the field from the pocket. Treon seems to read on the outside on the seems for a first read most often. Maybe it is a height thing but I saw a lot of times that from the pocket he had Callaway or other receivers running routes down the middle in that 5-15 yards and he would not let it go but was looking almost on the edges for his first reads it seems. There were quick throws he had guys in that yd range open but either held the ball for other reads or tried to escape the pocket. I think Will seemed to be very good at executing those throws more often and getting the ball out quickly more times than not in the pocket. Otherwise Treon played admirably and UF had opportunities to win the game down the stretch. If he improves on progression reading and getting the ball out more quickly the offense should be fine and formidable.

    • Iamtheeggman says:

      Florida’s offense is not even close to “fine and formidable.” McElwain deserves all the credit in the world for manufacturing points with the small anmount of talent at UF. UF can’t run the ball a lick, they are 111th in rushing. They are 87th in total offense. Until the LSU game, the defense was able to mask how patheitic UF’s offense really is. Both quarterbacks are o.k., and a huge step up from Jeff Driskel, but they are not anything to write home about either. LSU won because they were far better on both lines of scrimmage, and it’s hard to win when you are not. How UF beat Tennessee, who were clearly better on the line of scrimmage, is an astounding feat by McElwain. McElwain has used baling wire and tape to will this team to 6-1. Imagine what he can do with better players?

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