Florida Gators drop grinding loss on the road to LSU Tigers
OCT 12, 2013 7:01p ET
First came a sack by LSU safety Jalen Mills for a loss of 12 yards to force a fourth-and-27, and then another sack and strip by linebacker Kendell Beckwith all but sealed the game.
The 17th-ranked Gators came to Death Valley hoping to establish themselves as the team to beat in the Eastern Division of the Southeastern Conference. Instead, they left with a 17-6 loss to No. 10 LSU on Saturday which exposed some problems with Florida's pass protection.
LSU "had too many free runners at the quarterback," Florida coach Will Muschamp said after watching Murphy take four sacks and release numerous inaccurate passes under duress. "There was too much pressure. We've got to protect (Murphy) better."
Murphy blamed himself.
"It is definitely frustrating when you have a guy (open) down field and you can't (get the ball) to him," Murphy said. "I really have to work on getting rid of the ball quicker."
Murphy got off to an encouraging start against LSU, connecting on a couple of high-percentage throws, showing his elusiveness when he was nearly sacked and converting four first downs. That set up Francisco Velez's 44-yard field goal to give the Gators a 3-0 lead.
The next two drives didn't go nearly as well, amounting to minus-4 yards as LSU forced a pair of three-and-outs, and Micah Eugene pulled down Murphy for his first sack.
Meanwhile, LSU (6-1, 3-1) strung together touchdown drives of 70 and 62 yards, gashing the Gators' highly rated defense for several passing plays covering more than 20 yards. The scores came on 1-yard TD runs by fullback J.C. Copeland and reserve freshman quarterback Anthony Jennings.
Florida (4-2, 3-1) entered the game giving up averages of only 217 yards and 12.2 points per game. LSU gained 200 yards and scored 14 points in the first half.
"You can call whatever defense you want to call, kids have got to get off blocks and make a play," Muschamp said of his defense. "Our guys have got to accept that."
Florida made it a one possession game on Velez's second field goal, a 27-yarder that cut it to 14-6 with 12:11 to go.
The Tigers responded by going to Jeremy Hill, who carried four times for 45 yards -- including a gain of 26 yards to the Florida 19 -- to set up Colby Delahoussaye's 31-yard field goal with 7:58 left.
Needing two scores, Florida started to gamble.
On fourth-and-5 from the Gators 30, punter Kyle Christy converted a fake, hitting Demarcus Robinson over the middle for a 14-yard gain. Murphy then converted a fourth-and-9 with a 15-yard pass to Ahmad Fulwood at the LSU 20. That's when the Tigers put the game out of reach with consecutive sacks.
"We can win all different types of games," Hill said. "We can win shootouts or we can win tough, physical ground it out kind of games."
Hill rushed for 121 yards on 19 carries, carrying the load on a day when the Tigers' passing offense was not its usual prolific self.
LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger finished with 152 yards on 9-of-17 passing, hitting Jarvis Landry four times for 58 yards and Odell Beckham Jr. twice for 47 yards.
"It's frustrating, but you have to give them credit, too," Florida defensive lineman Damien Jacobs said. "It is LSU, and Jeremy Hill is the running back. He's physical, and he has all the intangibles it takes."
The Gators also apparently caught LSU's defense at the wrong time. The Tigers had given up 44 points in a loss at Georgia and 23 points in the first half a week ago at Mississippi State, but have now gone six quarters without giving up a touchdown.
"The more time we are getting together with this defense, the better we are becoming," said defensive end Jermauria Rasco, who assisted on one of LSU's eight tackles behind the line of scrimmage. "It is just taking some time and I think the evidence is there now."
Florida wound up being the first LSU opponent this season to be kept out of the end zone.
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