Saturday Night in Death Valley. Where dreams indeed do go to die. Florida came up short at LSU Saturday night in one of the best games of the college football season so far. The Gators came out and hung with the tigers for three and a half quarters but ultimately ran out of gas down the stretch and fell 42-28.
Kyle and Kyle: Kyle Trask grew up on Saturday night. In the least ideal place to make your first road start, Trask ended the night with a stat line of 23/39 for 310 yards, 3 touchdowns, and 1 interception. It’s visibly clear that Trask is starting to play more fluidly. The game seems to be slowing down for him as well. He wasn’t perfect by any stretch. He still underthrows some balls that would have resulted in big plays. However, he continues to improve week to week. The Texas Gunslinger played well enough to win and is still our best option going forward contrary to any twitter debate.
The other Kyle in this offense was fantastic, again. Kyle Pitts was such a matchup nightmare that LSU decided to double him in the second half. Despite this, he led the team with five catches for 108 yards.
The Gator Standard: Let's be honest, aside from those two there wasn’t a lot of good. I could write about how good the Wide receiver room is for the 73rd week in a row or I could write about something else that doesn’t show up on the stat sheet. While there are no moral victories in sports, the change Dan Mullen has produced (in less than two years on the job) has been phenomenal. Gone are the days where UF had no hope to win a big game like Saturday’s. The players believed they could win Saturday night. They didn’t fear “Death Valley” for a second, and the game showed it. They counter punched nearly every time LSU regained momentum with four long drives that resulted in touchdowns. The Gator Standard is back in Gainesville. Thank you, Dan Mullen.
No depth: When you look at the starters and two deep for Florida there is a lot of talent. After that it gets thin really fast; especially at some positions. There is a lack of depth at positions such as Safety, Defensive Line, Nickel corner, and Offensive Line. These things showed up Saturday night in the worst possible way. Florida must fix the depth deficiencies it has on the recruiting trail with a strong close to the 2020 class
The Run Game: Statistically, this wasn’t the worst game Florida has had running the football this season. The problem that occurred Saturday was when LSU knew the run was coming. Florida essentially wasted a down when it ran up to the middle. Outside runs, options, reverses, and the occasional Emory Jones run were the only way Florida could even come up with yards. Even with some successful runs the average YPC was only 3.7 a carry on 40 attempts. That’s simply not good enough if this team has hopes of running the table.
Todd Grantham: Terrible. Horrible. No Good. Very Bad. That was the worst Florida defensive performance I have seen since the Alabama game in 2014. Joe Burrow didn’t get touched the whole game. The linebackers had no clue where to line up or what they were doing. There were plays Florida was simply beaten by alignment Lastly, the secondary laid a complete egg. (More on that later.)
Grantham got out coached that badly in the biggest game of the season by a twenty-nine-year-old whose claim to fame is being a fucking analyst for the Saints. There are problems that seriously need to be addressed over the next two weeks.
The not so STAR position: Even throughout the bad times, The Gator Standard always still applied to the secondary. I am officially concerned with this unit and I never thought I would say that. It took this staff six games of Trey Dean being picked on at STAR to finally move Marco Wilson inside while making CJ Henderson and Kaiir Elam the outside corners. Literally everyone knew Dean’s experiment at STAR wasn’t going to work. I wrote about it 15 times over the summer. He needs to move to safety NOW if he wants to save his career at Florida.
Marco Wilson should’ve been the nickel corner the second Jon Huggins got kicked off the team in August. He struggles against bigger wide receivers, is an above average tackler, and possesses the athletic ability and brain to play the position. It’s what the team has needed. With early flashes from Kaiir Elam on the boundary, that corner lineup should be here to stay.
Sticking with corners, CJ Henderson’s ankle is clearly not 100% and is another member of the defense in desperate need of the bye week. Although he had three PBU’s, he lost money Saturday night. The Corner has no interest in tackling whatsoever and is starting to have the Vernon Hargreaves junior year mentality of just get to the league healthy.
The Safeties: Awful in every aspect. The rotations were laughable, Tackling was bad, coverage was awful, and effort was atrocious on some plays. It starts with the person in charge of the room. Fire him the minute the bowl game is over and send the next guy in charge to Avantae Williams’ living room right after the introductory press conference.
Overall, the Gators still have a chance to get back to Atlanta and control their own destiny in doing so. A three week stretch including a trip to South Carolina next week, a much needed bye, and then a showdown in Jacksonville against Georgia that will define the season. Not this game.
It’s still great to be a Florida Gator!
Via: Harrison Tenzer. Follow him on Twitter HERE.
Above photo via: AP Photo/Gerald Herbert