Chomp: Questions abound after Florida’s loss to LSU

Florida head coach Dan Mullen looks up during an NCAA college football game against LSU in Baton Rouge, La., Saturday, Oct. 16, 2021. (AP Photo/Matthew Hinton) (Matthew Hinton, Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

This story first appeared in Chomp, our Gators football newsletter. Subscribe here.

Where does Florida go from here?

That’s one of the many questions being asking after the Gators’ third loss of the season, this one a 49-42 defeat to unranked LSU.

This LSU team was decimated with injuries. The future of its coach was unclear (since Saturday’s game, it’s been announced that Ed Orgeron and LSU will be parting ways after this season). The Gators even got a noon kick instead of a night game in Death Valley.

Yet, similar to last season’s matchup against the Tigers (4-3, 2-2 Southeastern Conference), a mistake-riddled game for the Gators (4-3, 2-3) resulted in another painful loss.

LSU’s banged-up defense came away with four interceptions — two by Emory Jones and two by Anthony Richardson. However, Richardson rallied in the second half, throwing three touchdown passes and running for a score.

GAME RECAP: Davis-Price, LSU stun turnover-prone Florida

Per Will Miles, with Read and Reaction, Richardson had five explosives on 26 touches against LSU. For Jones, it was two in 29 touches. So far this season, Richardson has 13 explosives in 65 touches (one every five touches) compared to 20 in 260 touches for Jones (one every 13 touches).

But Dan Mullen wasn’t ready to commit to any changes at the position when asked about the quarterbacks moving forward.

“I thought you saw some good things from both quarterbacks today. Saw some mistakes from both quarterbacks today. So, we’ll evaluate that of how that’s going to play out moving forward,” he said in the postgame news conference.

Nick de la Torre, with Gators Territory, reports that after Saturday’s game, Richardson was asked about fans worrying that he might leave, to which the redshirt freshman from Gainesville responded: “I can’t really speak on that. Time, time is the only thing that can tell, but right now I’m a Gator. So that’s only thing that matters.” AR15 later tweeted: “I am a Florida Gator, through and through. Sorry if my response wasn’t clear enough, but I’m not worried about anything but maximizing my opportunity now! Don’t count us out… #GVO #GatorGang.”

Still, with a losing SEC record right now, it seems like the priority for the Gators should be transitioning to Richardson as the starter. But the question is: Will they?

On the other side of the ball, there are other questions that have reemerged following Saturday’s loss. Florida’s defense, which came in allowing 108.5 yards rushing per game, could not stop running back Tyrion Davis-Price, who rushed for an LSU-record 287 yards (of the Tigers’ 321 total rushing yards on Saturday) and three touchdowns.

The Gators’ defense was historically bad last season but has looked improved at times this year. Saturday was not one of those times, and the defense’s performance has once again led to questions about defensive coordinator Todd Grantham.

“I don’t like to jump to conclusions,” Mullen told reporters when asked about the possibility of an in-season change. “I like to have facts.”

All of these questions contribute to why Mullen himself is facing scrutiny. Starting with last season’s loss to LSU, the Gators have gone 2-6 against Power Five teams.

In this episode of Gators Breakdown, host David Waters reviews the Gators’ issues stopping the Tigers’ ground attack and the emergence of Richardson at the quarterback position.

And if you’re feeling disheartened and a bit lost (I know I am) after Saturday’s loss, you can hear from other disappointed fans and Gators Breakdown listeners in the latest episode.

Up next: The Gators get a bye week before facing Georgia in Jacksonville at 3:30 p.m. on Oct. 30.

📉 Florida falls out of polls

Florida, unsurprisingly, dropped out of both the Associated Press Top 25 Poll and the USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll following Saturday’s loss.

It’s the first time the Gators fell out of the rankings this season.

AP TOP 25 TAKEAWAYS: Cincinnati up to No. 2; Purdue snaps poll drought | FLORIDA FLOP: Sunshine State falls out of the AP Top 25

Georgia remains No. 1 in both polls, but the big shakeup came at the top when Iowa dropped from No. 2 to No. 11 in both polls after the Hawkeyes’ 24-7 loss to Purdue.

Here are the latest AP and Coaches Polls.

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