Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Top 5 moments: Big gaffes in Gainesville
By David Helman
LSU fans almost forgot what a regular-season loss felt like for a bit. Considering the undefeated 2011 regular season and the 10-2 seasons that bookended it in 2010 and 2012, the Tigers haven't had to deal with defeat too often recently.
Matt Elam's strip of Odell Beckham Jr. turned the tide in LSU's 14-6 loss to the Gators.
That's what made two huge miscues so glaring in LSU's 14-6 loss to Florida on Oct. 6 -- it was the first time the Tigers hadn't overcome their setbacks in 18 months.
Tuesday's post trumpeted Odell Beckham Jr.'s heroics against Ole Miss, so it's only fair that today we recall perhaps the biggest play of the Tigers' loss to the Gators, in which Beckham made a monstrous play that quickly turned into a disaster.
With LSU trailing Florida 7-6 late in the third quarter, Zach Mettenberger found Beckham on a 3rd and 7 from the LSU 21. Beckham took off along the west sideline for a 56-yard gain -- all the way down to the Gators' 23 yard line. The gain would have set the Tigers up in the Florida red zone with a chance to take the lead heading into the fourth quarter.
Instead, Florida safety Matt Elam interjected. The junior caught up to Beckham and ripped the ball from the receiver's grasp, and the Gators recovered.
That would have been a major turning point all on its own, but Florida wrested control of the game following the turnover. The ensuing possession was a smashmouth 11-play, 77-yard touchdown drive that featured nothing but running plays. Gators running back Mike Gillislee plowed into the end zone six minutes later to put Florida up by eight with just 13 minutes to play.
LSU had three more possessions in the game, and not one of them crossed midfield -- Beckham's fumble ended the Tigers' final scoring threat.
In a game where LSU managed just two field goals, this was the second time the Tigers goofed up a chance at a game-changing touchdown. A fumble by Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel set LSU up on the Gators' 7-yard line with two minutes until halftime. A Spencer Ware run got the ball down to the 4-yard line, but that was as far as the Tigers could go.
After Mettenberger threw incomplete on second down, the Tigers called two timeouts in a row. The third down play looked destined to be an unlooked-for jump pass from Terrence Magee, but the receiver wasn't there and Magee plowed forward for no gain. The Tigers settled for a field goal and did not come close to the end zone again.
Plenty of fans questioned the playcall at the time, especially considering a touchdown would have given LSU a 10-0 lead at half. The loss was the first of two painful setbacks for LSU in 2012.