GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Beyond Joe Burrow’s fateful pick-six, more influential than Florida’s throwback pass, gleams a statistic that commanded the pace of LSU’s 27-19 loss in Ben-Hill Griffin Stadium.
Florida: five sacks, 11 tackles for loss.
LSU: no sacks, two tackles for loss.
“We didn’t win the line of scrimmage,” LSU coach Ed Orgeron said. “They had many more sacks, many more tackles for loss than we did. We had too many turnovers. We just didn’t get the job done.”
Florida’s aggressive defensive front was no secret. Orgeron had said in the Monday leading up to the game that “this is going to be the best defense we faced so far this year.”
So far, it was.
Joe Burrow's first interception of the season was no surprise to the Florida defense on Saturday -- at least not how they tell it.
Florida linebacker Vosean Joseph harassed the Tigers the most, recording a game-high two sacks and 3½ tackles for loss. He sacked Burrow at the LSU 3 on third down, which forced a punt that gave the Gators favorable field position to score a touchdown and tie the game at 7 at the start of the second quarter.
It was his second sack up to that point. Buck linebacker Jachai Polite had forced a fumble on a sack at the Florida 35 earlier in the first quarter, when LSU was up 7-0 and driving.
The pressure limited LSU from attempting explosive pass plays, Orgeron said, because Burrow hardly had time for such a play develop.
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“We couldn’t drop back and throw the football, obviously,” Orgeron said. “Our guys were getting beat one-on-one. You can chip (with running backs), but you can only chip one or two guys. You can’t chip all five. We need to get better pass protection.”
Then, there were the penalties.
Senior tight end Foster Moreau caught a wide-open slant across the middle and veered to the Florida 32. It was a 26-yard gain — the kind of breakout play LSU needed down 14-10 in the third quarter against the Gators.
Then Moreau heard the official’s whistle. Saw the yellow flag. A holding penalty was called on starting left tackle Saahdiq Charles, and the Tigers were pushed back to their 32.
Three plays later, LSU punted.
Later in the quarter, Moreau caught a 10-yard pass to the LSU 32, which moved the chains on third down. That play was negated too, whistled dead due to a false start on starting right tackle Austin Deculus.
A player later, LSU punted.
“We just kind of got behind the sticks,” said Moreau, who finished with one catch for 14 yards. “Whether it was a penalty or a negative play, we just put ourselves in a bad second-down situation. And when we do that, it’s tough to play from behind the sticks. When we move the ball and have productive first downs, we’re a really productive offense.”
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On the other end, the LSU defense struggled to make plays in the Florida backfield.
Gators quarterback Feleipe Franks was pressured. LSU hurried him nine times, and nose tackle Breiden Fehoko hit Franks to force his only interception, which was caught by safety Grant Delpit in the LSU end zone.
The main deficiency came on the ground. Florida rushed for 215 yards — the most allowed by LSU all season. The Gators averaged 5 yards per carry, and Jordan Scarlett rushed for 23 yards on six consecutive running plays to help run the clock down to 2:21 at the end of the fourth quarter.
Florida battered an LSU defense that played without starting linebacker Jacob Phillips, who was dressed out on the sideline. Phillips had missed practice Monday and Tuesday and was limited Wednesday. Freshman Micah Baskerville started in his place.
On Saturday, LSU will host No. 2 Georgia, which ranks 16th nationally with 245.1 yards rushing per game.
“We go back to the drawing board,” starting inside linebacker Devin White said. “We fix our problems. We go back and work harder on all our mistakes and just get better.”
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