There’s nothing worse than losing a game because you couldn’t stop Feleipe Franks. Despite fighting against an emotional crowd all game, LSU took the lead in the fourth quarter and was poised to sneak out of the Swamp with the win, only to let Florida’s offense march down the field and score what would prove to be the winning touchdown.
It was a theme of the night. In both halves, LSU scored late to take a lead, only to watch helplessly as Florida’s offense responded immediately with a touchdown drive. That is the sort of thing that cannot happen against an offensively challenged squad like the Gators. LSU’s defense couldn’t shut the door, and Florida barged right through.
12-27-161. Feleipe Franks passing line. Look, it’s not like he had a good day passing the football, but the key part of his day was right after LSU kicked a field goal to go up 10-7 with three minutes left in the first half. Florida responded with a 7 play, 75-yard touchdown drive to take the lead before the half. During that drive, Franks went 4-4 for 58 yards and a TD. For the rest of the game, he was 8-23 for 103 yards. It’s not just about what you do, but when you do it.
2-11-29. Joe Burrow’s passing line after LSU’s final touchdown. Up to that point, Burrow was 17-23 for 163 yards. A nice, efficient day. But Florida scored a touchdown in response to LSU’s go-ahead score. LSU needed Burrow to make plays down the stretch and… well, look at it. He also threw two interceptions, one returned for a touchdown. Yes, receivers dropped some key passes, and he was sacked twice, but… that is horrific end to what had been a good day. Franks turned up his game when it mattered, and Burrow wilted.
190. Combined penalty yardage. LSU went 8-75 and Florida 11-115. It was a tremendously sloppy game full of dumb penalties by both teams. Florida needed to make this one a rock fight… mission accomplished.
372-391. Total offensive yards. Each team hovered near 400 yards, showing that each team could move the football. Unfortunately for LSU, their 372-yard output was more evenly spread out through the entire game while Florida tended to either have a long drive or a three and out. Florida had two touchdown drives of 75 yards to go with six three-and-out drives.
11. Florida tackles for a loss. LSU ran 75 plays, and the offense went backwards on 11 of them. That’s pretty dismal. Without 40 yards of negative yardage, LSU breaks 400 yards on offense. Negative plays doomed the team.
48.0. Johnny Townsend’s punting average. The teams combined for 17 punts, but Townsend punted 9 times for a 48.0 average. He booted a 61 yarder in the game’s final minutes to flip field position, and that wasn’t even his longest punt of the day, a 70-yarder. Florida won the battle of hidden yardage due to a huge game from their punter.
15-92-2. Nick Brossette’s rushing line. And after scoring the go-ahead touchdown, he wouldn’t touch the ball again. Possibly the most critical stretch of plays in the game, LSU had 1st and 10 at the Florida 48. Clyde Edwards-Helaire ran the ball twice in a row, for a net three yard gain setting up a failed 3rd and 7. Brossette, the more effective back on the day, was on the sideline.
4/17. LSU’s third down conversions. Even worse, LSU went 1/9 on third downs in the second half. The offense could not put together drives, often falling behind the sticks. Florida was almost as bad on the day, going 4/13, but… and this was the theme of the night, they came through when it mattered. Florida went 3/5 in the fourth quarter, the most crucial a 3rd and 7 from the LSU 29 which turned a potential long field goal attempt into a touchdown drive, responding to Brossette’s go ahead touchdown. If you could reverse just one play in the game, that’s an under the radar choice that had a huge impact. If LSU gets that third down stop, Florida kicks a field goal and is still down 19-17, setting up an entirely different end game. The defense could not make a stop when it absolutely had to have one.