October 16, 2014

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (AP) Florida tight end Tevin Westbrook has watched the replay countless times since Saturday night.

It was a perfect pass from Jeff Driskel, a belt-high spiral that hit Westbrook in stride in the end zone.

It should have been a touchdown, quite possibly a game-winning score. Instead, it might end up having a significant effect on Driskel, coach Will Muschamp and the Gators (3-2, 2-2 Southeastern Conference) this season.

For Westbrook, there was no excuse for dropping it.

And he didn't even try to make one.

The 6-foot-5 senior from Coconut Creek owned up to his mistake on the sideline and again in the locker room after the 30-27 loss to LSU. He even welcomed questions about it this week as Florida prepares to host Missouri (4-2, 1-1) on Saturday.

''I just knew it was going to come back up and I'd rather it be now so I can get it out of the way and focus on Missouri,'' Westbrook said. ''The SEC is a tough conference and that play is going to come up again, where I've got to make a tough catch. Now I know what I've got to do to make it happen.

''So the next time, when I make that catch, I'm going to come back in here and say, `I looked it in this time.'''

The Gators settled for a game-tying field goal on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line.

Florida's defense forced a punt, getting the ball back near midfield with 54 seconds to play in regulation. The Gators could have run out the clock and went to overtime. But after two completions that moved Florida to the LSU 45, Driskel's quick pass to Latroy Pittman was tipped, intercepted and returned 23 yards.

That set up LSU's game-winning, 50-yard field goal with 3 seconds remaining.

Driskel received plenty of blame for his third turnover of the night and his eighth in the last three games.

Westbrook was equally vilified on social media.

''When it hit my hands, I was too excited to go celebrate with the team that I forgot that I had to secure the ball,'' said Westbrook, who has seven career receptions for 68 yards and a touchdown.

Some players would have avoided the replay. Westbrook hasn't stopped watching it, trying to understand how and why it happened, and how to prevent it from occurring again.

''I've watched it over and over again,'' he said. ''I've watched it numerous times. I didn't look the ball in. As soon as I saw it the first time and when it happened, I knew I didn't look it in.''

Coaches and teammates came to Westbrook's defense.

''I was devastated also. But the game was still tied up afterward,'' center Max Garcia said. ''He was really down. He was really heartbroken, and I just said, `Keep your head up. We lost this game as a team.'''

Indeed, there were plenty of other reasons for the loss.

Driskel's first-quarter turnover led to LSU's first touchdown. The defense gave up 195 yards rushing, and more damaging, allowed a third-and-25 conversion that set up a late touchdown. And the Gators settled for two field goals in the red zone.

''Just things like that, we all played a part in it,'' Garcia said. ''There are a few plays that determine the game. You just got to lift those guys up in times like this. ... Everyone takes a part in a win; everyone takes a part in a loss.''

Heeding the advice of coaches, Westbrook has stayed off Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites this week. The replay is all he needs to remind of what went wrong.

''This one was just such an easy pass,'' he said. ''I was like, `This is just another one to put in the stats book,' and I just took it for granted.''

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