GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Not including Odell Beckham’s 59-yard reception that ended in a lost fumble, LSU wide receivers had only four catches for 26 yards Saturday in a 14-6 loss at Florida.
Beckham finished with four catches for 78 yards, including an 11-yard gain on the game’s final play. Russell Shepard had the only other catch by an LSU wideout — for 2 yards.
The other six passes quarterback Zach Mettenberger completed were corralled by running backs and tight ends.
“I’ve just got to keep going to them,” Mettenberger said of the receivers. “If I don’t throw it to them, they’re not going to make the plays. Hopefully, we’ll work it out. But there’s no pointing the finger or blaming anybody here. We’ve just got to get better this week and get ready for South Carolina.”
Kadron Boone, Beckham and Jarvis Landry each had a dropped pass Saturday, making matters even tougher on an already-sluggish offense and continuing a season-long trend of dropped balls in the passing game.
Asked to explain the drops by LSU receivers, coach Les Miles said he was at a loss.
“If anybody knows, I’d be for it,” he said.
To put LSU’s 42 rushing yards Saturday into perspective, consider the Tigers had 37 more than that in Alabama’s 21-0 demolition in the BCS title game last season. LSU more than over 100 rushing yards in all 13 regular-season games last year.
LSU had only 42 yards on 25 carries Saturday, led by Spencer Ware with 21 yards on eight carries.
LSU played its third straight game without junior running back Alfred Blue, who went down with a knee injury against Idaho after leading the Tigers in rushing the first three weeks.
Five years after then-Florida freshman Tim Tebow famously completed a 2006 jump pass against his team, Miles called a jump pass of his own in last year’s rout of Florida at Tiger Stadium. Jordan Jefferson faked a run, then dumped the ball to tight end Mitch Joseph for a 2-yard touchdown.
Miles went back to the payback well again in Saturday’s loss — this time, to no avail.
On the heels of back-to-back timeouts, seldom-used wide receiver Terrence Magee lined up at running back on third-and-goal late in the first half. He took a toss from Mettenberger, then looked up field as if to pass.
Florida’s defense swallowed him up, however, and LSU was forced to settle for a Drew Alleman field goal.
“It was a toss, and (Magee) was supposed to come up and kind of Tebow pass it,” Mettenberger said. “But they did a great job of covering the tight end (Nic Jacobs) in that situation.”
By outscoring LSU 14-0 in the second half Saturday, Florida continued its season-long dominance after the intermission.
The Gators have outscored their first five foes 78-13 in the second half, including 41-0 in fourth quarter. They have trailed at halftime in victories over Texas A&M, Tennessee and LSU during their 5-0 start.
“We believe it’s going to happen in the first half as well, but we know it’s going to happen in the second half.,” Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel said. “In that locker room after half, you would have never known we were down. We all kept our heads up and, you know, listened for our adjustments and couldn’t wait to get back out.”
Through two Southeastern Conference games, LSU has not enjoyed the kind of advantage in the punting game the Tigers probably expected.
It’s not that sophomore punter Brad Wing hasn’t been his usual strong-legged self. Instead, the opposing punter in both games has been just as good.
Saturday, UF’s Kyle Christy averaged 49.1 yards on seven punts (with three kicks inside the 20). Two weeks earlier, Auburn’s Steven Clark had a 41-yard average on seven punts, with two kicks inside the 20.
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