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Offensive struggles continue for Gators

So much for progress.

Florida players and coaches thought they were starting to figure things out offensively heading into a tough October stretch. But the Gators were once again stuck in quicksand on the offensive side of the ball in a 17-16 homecoming loss to LSU that snapped a three-game win streak.

Now, heading into a critical home against Texas A&M, the Gators (3-2. 3-1 SEC) are looking to regroup physically and emotionally while trying to find ways to put more points on the board. The Gators generated just 302 yards of offense in the LSU loss, dropping to 102nd in the nation in total offense out of 129 teams at 347.2 yards per game. In addition, the Gators got off just 54 plays against LSU and rank 124th nationally in plays per game at 60.8 per contest.

Florida coach Jim McElwain said the Gators will try to pick up the tempo against the Aggies, but said that winning third down is critical as well. The Gators went just 2-of-9 on third conversions and 0-for-1 on fourth down conversions against LSU, while LSU went 6-for-14 on third down against the Gators.

"This last game, our numbers had a lot to do with the third-down piece, both not winning on offense and not getting the ball back on defense," McElwain said. "They did a good job of controlling it. You see how they huddled and really were snapping late in the shot clock, which shut down some of those opportunities. I think the key is staying on the field on third downs."

Down 17-16, Florida had issues getting play calls in on time on its final drive, which resulted in rushed offensive plays and confusion before the play clock expired. The Gators turned the ball over on downs with 1:39 remaining and were unable to get the ball back after a pair of incomplete passes by Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks.

"It's on me for ultimately not having, from the communication piece, making sure that it's not too big, right? And yet big enough to give you an advantage," McElwain said. "I've got to continue to work on that."

It won't get any easier for Florida's offense against a Texas A&M defense that brings heat against opposing quarterbacks. Texas A&M leads the SEC in sacks with 23.

"Protection is going to be huge," McElwain said. "Negative plays and the things they create from that standpoint, their takeaways, those are the things we've got to be prepared for and we've got to get better in the pass protection piece moving forward."

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