GAINESVILLE -- The buzzword around No. 22 Florida this week is “communication.”
From quarterback Tyler Murphy, to offensive linemen Jon Halapio, D.J. Humphries and Max Garcia, UF’s players said a lack of continuity between the quarterback, linemen and the tailbacks caused confusion in blocking assignments and allowed LSU to dominate the line of scrimmage in last Saturday’s 17-6 loss.
The Tigers harassed Murphy all afternoon (officially four sacks, six hurries) with a combination of zone blitzes and pressure packages.
“When they’ve got four defensive linemen it’s pretty simple,” offensive coordinator Brent Pease said. “But when they start covering the center and it becomes what we call and odd front, your protection calls have gotta change too because the numbers are different where you’ve gotta create your zone or man side.
“So that’s what they went to, they went to an odd front and some cases we’re built to handle it, and we didn’t get it done. It’s fixable, and you’ve just gotta get better at it and it’s unacceptable to let it happen, but we’re not just gonna stay like that. We’re gonna make sure we’ve got it fixed and cleaned up.”
Florida players said the pass protection issues weren’t physical, but mental.
Humphries — UF’s sophomore left tackle — shouldered much of the blame of the line’s struggles, saying he apologized to his teammates following the loss.
“I told the boys they depend on me too much in a critical time for me to give up, or allow, something like that to happen at the time that it did,” he said.
Humphries was penalized for a pair of false starts on Florida’s final possession, and also botched multiple assignments resulting in two sacks — including the dagger late in the fourth quarter.
“We just weren’t on the same page,” Humphries said. “Looking at the film the next day, it was simple stuff we could have picked up and communicated better. It was a collective effort. Some of it was on us, some of it was on our backs. … We just weren’t wired together.”
Murphy also voiced culpability in UF’s issues up front, saying he didn’t recognize some of the blitzes, change enough protection calls and held the ball too long.
But Florida has little time to solve a serious problem, as undefeated No. 14
Missouri (12 p.m., ESPN) is second in the Southeastern Conference in quarterback takedowns, led by future NFL speed rushers Michael Sam (conference-leading 6.0 sacks) and Markus Golden (2.5 sacks).
The Tigers badgered Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray (two sacks, four tackles for loss) in their 41-26 upset victory in Athens last weekend — two weeks after LSU’s
front-seven didn’t register a single quarterback knockdown all game against the Bulldogs.
As for UF’s beleaguered offensive line: a blueprint has been established.
Blitz. A lot.
“Probably. I would if I was scheming against us,” Garcia, UF’s left guard, said of facing additional pressure moving forward. “Seeing that we had troubles against the blitz, I’d probably do the same thing. As an offensive line, we’re just going to try to do our best against the blitz in practice and making sure we’re mentally there.
“Physically, we are there. I don’t think we have a problem with strength and getting bull-rushed out there. It’s just the mental part of the game that we’ve got to get down, and it really comes down to communication.”