GAINESVILLE, Fla. — The LSU offense hadn’t converted a third down all game, but it looked like the Tigers may have found some life after Zach Mettenberger connected with Odell Beckham Jr. on third-and-7 late in the third quarter.
The long, arcing pass was beautifully placed over Beckham’s shoulder.
Beckham corralled it in stride along the right sideline, completing the longest pass play of LSU’s season at 59 yards. But as Florida defensive back Matt Elam caught him from behind, he popped the ball loose while bringing Beckham to the ground.
“The opportunities that we would have had had we kept possession on the Odell Beckham possession certainly could have made a difference in the game,” LSU coach Les Miles said after a 14-6 loss Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadum.
Although he was originally ruled down before the ball came out, an official review showed that Elam had indeed forced the fumble before recovering it himself deep in Florida territory.
Eight plays and 85 yards later, the Gators had bumped their lead up to eight points.
Such was the story for an LSU offense that left The Swamp with still just one touchdown through two games in Southeastern Conference play.
The Tigers lived a statistical nightmare, managing 200 yards of offense, committing three turnovers and going 1-for-13 on third downs.
“I think we understand the things we didn’t do,” Miles said of the offense. “It’s very defined. It’s just exactly how we’ve been coaching it and just exactly how we want to operate it.”
LSU made its most noise on the game’s opening possession, driving 64 yards on 10 plays to set up Drew Alleman’s 31-yard field goal.
The Tigers got their only other points after Bennie Logan forced a Jeff Driskel fumble, Barkevious Mingo recovered and LSU took over at the Florida 7-yard line with 2:02 left in the first half.
Instead of extending the lead to double digits with a touchdown, however, LSU again settled for a short field goal after Terrence Magee was stopped on a play designed for a Tim Tebow-like, halfback jump pass.
“We’ve got to stick our nose in there and punch it in on that turnover,” Mettenberger said. “Just something to learn from.”
Mettenberger finished his second SEC start 11 of 25 for 158 yards with one interception.
His offensive line continued to have a hard time protecting him and gave up four Florida sacks. His wide receivers continued to drop routine passes.
Meanwhile, the vaunted LSU running game managed only 42 yards on 25 attempts.
“We’ve got to just plugging away,” Mettenberger said. “We played with great effort tonight. It’s just the execution on offense has to get better.”
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