Florida-LSU grades: Gator defense seals win over Tigers
Florida Gators 16, LSU Tigers 10
Here are the top-graded players and biggest takeaways from Florida’s 16-10 win over LSU:
Quarterback grade: Danny Etling, 71.3
Etling continues to show signs of improvement, but too little too late
For the fans in West Lafayette, Ind., it was Etling who came out on top in the duel of the former Purdue quarterbacks in terms of the mano a mano duel, if not on the scoreboard. In his first seven games this season Etling missed on 21.2 percent of his throws but in the last two games Etling has missed only 11.4 percent, cutting his inaccuracy percentage almost in half. Etling couldn’t hit the big play to turn this game in LSU’s favor though, with Teez Tabor twice denying the LSU passing game momentous plays — first with a pass breakup on a deep post route replacing the deep safety and then coming up with a game-saving, season-saving even, tackle on D.J. Chark as he broke into the open field late in the game. Etling’s improvement has been clear in the last two weeks but both in this game and for LSU’s season it’s too little too late.
Top offensive grades:
C Ethan Pocic, 83.9
TE Colin Jeter, 75.3
LG Will Clapp, 73.4
WR D.J. Chark, 71.7
WR Malachi Dupre, 69.0
Fournette and Guice held in check by Gator D
For only the second time in the last seven games, the LSU offensive line failed to provide their running backs with at least 100 yards before contact and the combination of Guice and a belatedly activated Leonard Fournette couldn’t supersede that performance to power the Tigers to victory. C Ethan Pocic and LG Will Clapp still turned in strong individual performances with Clapp in producing one of the plays of the game to lead Chark down the field for a 29-yard gain on an end around in the second quarter. In a close fought encounter it was ultimately LSU that came up inches short as time expired with the Florida D making decisive plays on the final drive to blunt LSU’s attempts to derail their season.
Top defensive grades:
CB Tre’Davious White, 93.4
LB Dwayne Thomas, 80.9
S John Battle, 78.5
OLB Arden Key, 77.7
DE Davon Godchaux, 77.0
White hot coverage but run defense falters
CB Tre’Davious White has had an excellent 2016 season but this performance was special even by his high standards. For the seventh time in ten games White allowed fewer than 25 passing yards but his four pass breakups in this game were more than he had recorded leading up to this game, and were his first since LSU’s Week 4 loss to Auburn. However, White’s star showing was ultimately for nought as the Florida running game ground the LSU defense down in the second half with the likes of Lewis Neal, Greg Gilmore and Donnie Alexander struggled to stand up late in the game.
Quarterback grade: Austin Appleby, 54.6
Appleby makes the big play count in lackluster performance
The performances of the former Purdue quarterbacks were almost diametrically opposite in this game. While Danny Etling had the down-to-down consistency but failed to come up with the big play, Appleby was poor for most of the game but came up with the deep shot for a big play, helped in no small part by Tyrie Cleveland, which swung this stalemate in Florida’s favor. Around that huge play, Appleby missed a few throws and struggled to beat the coverage of the likes of Tre’Davious White on the plays he was on target. But the Gators’ ground game took over and clinched the win to send Florida to Atlanta in two weeks’ time.
Top offensive grades:
C T.J. McCoy, 80.3
HB Jordan Scarlett, 80.2
LG Martez Ivey, 76.7
WR Tyrie Cleveland, 76.0
RG Fred Johnson, 74.1
Florida seize their prize on the ground
If the 98-yard touchdown to Tyrie Cleveland swung the game in Florida’s favour, it was the subsequent drive that saw Florida seize control of the game as their running game powered them to Atlanta and a showdown with Alabama in two weeks. Prior to being pinned at their 1-yard line with 5:36 left in the third, Florida was averaging 3.6 yards per carry, running power on most of their carries. From that point forward, Florida averaged 5.9 yards per carry, gaining 62 yards on six plays where they ran straight ahead. C T.J. McCoy came to the fore, dominating the LSU interior defensive line on occasion and setting the stage for running back Jordan Scarlett who gained 75 of his 108 yards after contact, breaking 11 tackles en route, as many as he broke in the last three games combined. With their season on the line Florida’s offense proved the doubters wrong and played a pivotal role in sealing the SEC East for the Gators.
Top defensive grades:
CB Teez Tabor, 81.3
DT Caleb Brantley, 80.7
DE Cece Jefferson, 78.8
DT Taven Bryan, 76.5
S Marcell Harris, 66.4
Tabor save the day, twice
With the Gators season on the line, it was Teez Tabor who stood tall to keep Florida on track for and in fact seal their place in the SEC Championship game. Tabor picked up two pass breakups, one on an excellent play in Cover-3 replacing the deep safety to deny Danny Etling a big play in the first half, but had a season saving play on LSU’s unsuccessful fourth-quarter drive after D.J. Chark got away from Quincy Wilson and Marcell Harris to get into the open field. Timely plays were the theme of the day for the Florida run defense too with the goal-line stand to clinch the win and DT Caleb Brantley trashing the third-and-goal play which led two plays later to Florida’s 98-yard score, over the course of three plays the momentum swung decisively in Florida’s favor.
PFF Game-Ball Winner: Florida CB Teez Tabor