Florida Gators Football: Who Stepped Up Against LSU?

The Florida Gators did the unthinkable by going into Baton Rouge and securing an emotional 16-10 win over the LSU Tigers. Who stepped up?


Nov 19, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Florida Gators offensive lineman Martez Ivey (73) and defensive lineman Cece Jefferson (96) celebrate the win over the LSU Tigers at Tiger Stadium. The Gators defeat the Tigers 16-10. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators have completed one of the most emotional wins in program history. Behind the efforts of a fired up defense, a determined running back, and an immeasurable amount of passion, Florida upset the LSU Tigers 16-10 in Baton Rouge.

In turn, the Gators improved to 8-3 and won the SEC East Title for the second consecutive season and a record 12th time in school history.

Head coach Jim McElwain made history by becoming the first coach in conference history to make the SEC Championship Game in each of his first two seasons.

It was an incredible day to be a member or fan of the Gators.

Florida fought for every inch in this game. That was proven as true when the Gators’ defense made a stand on fourth and goal from the one-yard-line to preserve this victory with time expiring.

To merely step up and do that on the road is reason enough to be intrigued and impressed. The question is: which players in specific stepped up for the Gators against LSU?

Let’s get to the bottom of it.

Oct 29, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Florida Gators wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland (89), Gators defensive back Chris Williamson (14) and teammates run out of the tunnel before the game against the Georgia Bulldogs at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Tyrie Cleveland

Freshman wide receiver Tyrie Cleveland is one of the more promising playmakers on the roster. A big-body target with the breakaway speed to be a force over the top, Cleveland has the potential to be a standout in Gainesville.

Against the LSU Tigers, Cleveland was a hero for an offense that otherwise struggled to generate offense against LSU.

Florida’s offense struggled to do much of anything in Death Valley, but Cleveland provided an invaluable explosiveness. His first catch went for 13 yards when the offense was otherwise stagnant and he scored Florida’s first touchdown.

It wasn’t just that Cleveland scored the touchdown, either; he caught a deep ball and took it 98 yards to the house.

Cleveland was one of the top wide receiver recruits in the country coming out of high school, but has battle nagging injuries. Now that he’s healthy, Cleveland appears ready to help take Florida’s offense to the next level.

Cleveland recorded what’s hopefully the first of many 100-yard games during his tenure at Florida.

Nov 19, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Florida Gators running back Jordan Scarlett (25) runs past LSU Tigers defensive end Lewis Neal (92) during the first quarter at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Scarlett

No matter what the numbers said at the end of the game, everyone who watched Jordan Scarlett knew he was sensational against the LSU Tigers. He ran for first downs on third and fourth down, fought through contact, and anchored the Florida Gators’ defense in the second half.

It was a brilliant display by a young and promising running back who’s beginning to discover his role within the Gators’ offense.

Scarlett ran for 108 yards on 22 carries, but the numbers don’t do his performance justice. The Tigers had absolutely no answer for Scarlett for extended periods of this game, which set the tone for the entire offense.

Though his teammates didn’t generally follow suit on the offensive end of the ball, Scarlett is the last person to blame for the offense’s inconsistency.

Scarlett ran for 134 yards on 20 carries against the South Carolina Gamecocks a week ago. Though his numbers weren’t as impressive this time around, he played an even better game by shining when it mattered most.

Currently a sophomore, Scarlett has the potential to be the next in line amongst the all-time great Gators running backs.

Nov 12, 2016; Gainesville, FL, USA; Florida Gators place kicker Eddy Pineiro (15) kicks a 54 yard field goal during the second half against the South Carolina Gamecocks at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida Gators defeated the South Carolina Gamecocks 20-7. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Special Teams

This may not be just one player, but the Florida Gators were able to rely on the special teams for an extraordinary showing. Aside from nearly losing a punt, they played an opportunistic game that helped put Florida in a position to win.

Between kicker Eddy Pineiro and the coverage teams, the Gators’ special teams played a crucial role in the 16-10 win.

Pineiro went 3-of-3 on field goals and made his only extra point attempt, which gave him 10 points on the game. In other words: Pineiro scored as many points for Florida as the LSU Tigers scored as a team.

Though his field goal attempts weren’t especially long, Pineiro hit a pair of clutch field goals during the final five minutes of a 16-10 win.

Along with Pineiro is a coverage team that consistently bottled up LSU’s attempts on the kick return. It also forced a turnover and gave the Gators ideal field position early in the first half, thus leading to the first three points of the game.

Simply put: the Gators wouldn’t have been able to win this game if not for the extraordinary play of the special teams.

Nov 19, 2016; Baton Rouge, LA, USA; Florida Gators defensive back Chauncey Gardner (23) celebrates a stop against the LSU Tigers during the first half at Tiger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Defense

The Florida Gators have been able to rely upon the defense in every game thus far. The likes of Teez Tabor, Caleb Brantley, and CeCe Jefferson continued to shine against the LSU Tigers, with big plays at virtually every stage of the game.

No matter what happened on offense, the defense was resilient and unrelenting in its desire to win on the road.

The Gators held LSU to 204 passing yards and 10 points on a day that the Tigers’ run game went off. Florida allowed LSU to move the ball down the field with some measure of consistency, but were simply dominant in the red zone.

That includes the final play of the game, as the Gators stuffed LSU on 4th and goal from the one-yard-line as time expired.

It wasn’t just one or two players who stepped up, no matter how impressive a select few individuals may have been. Florida’s defense was collectively brilliant. They led the Gators to the eighth win of the season as a unit.

It was an emotional win for a Florida team that was forced to give up a home game and come into Baton Rouge for a defensive battle.

There’s only one way to feel about Florida’s defense: proud.

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