What an absolute back slide this Florida team’s experienced since that loss to Kentucky. The Gators suffered another loss to fall to 2-5 since that night in early October and 5-6 on the season. Thus, leaving the Gators fighting for their bowl eligibility lives. Let’s examine how they performed against the Missouri Tigers.
After posting 70 points and over 700 yards of offense on FCS Samford last week, the Gators struggled to do much of anything against a conference foe. Missouri entered the game as one of the worst rushing defenses in the nation and one of the worst total defenses. And Florida managed just 93 yards on 38 total attempts running the ball. Its leading rusher? Emory Jones with 45 yards on 17 carries. The offensive line was quite the revolving door during this game due to injuries and that led to some issues. Regardless, a team that had such a run-dominant offense this season should be able to break 100 or more on a team allowing two bills to teams on the ground per game. Third down efficiency was not good either at a measily 5-for-18. Vanilla/non-aggressive play calling plus inefficiency running ball did this offense in. This side of the ball posts an average day and Florida leaves CoMo with a win.
People will remember the blown coverage on the two-point conversion to lose the game. But this L is hardly on this unit. Much like the Kentucky game, the Florida defense gave its offense plenty of opportunities to take control of the game. The Gator defenders came out with a sense of urgency and great energy. The defense actually held the Tigers to under 300 yards for the game. They posted several tackles-for-loss in just the first half and bottled up star running back Tyler Badie. Now, they couldn’t hold him the whole game and some lapses did happen in the second half but this group played well enough for Florida to win this ball game. Ty’Ron Hopper stole the show on the stat sheet with 11 solo tackles and multiple TFLs. Not to mention Brenton Cox Jr. who had multiple tackles and a sack plus Antonio Valentino posted four solo tackles and two TFLs including a sack.
Special teams: B-
Chris Howard, now back as the starting placekicker, nailed all three of his field goal attempts. Although, his longest attempt was a 42-yarder. But can’t knock a guy for making the attempts he’s given. After a terrible shank on his first attempt, punter Jeremy Crawshaw had a solid game as well. He punted eight times for over 300 yards including a long of 67 with five of those eight kicks being downed inside the 20. That said, punt return is basically a nothing burger every time that unit comes out. The longest return of the day came from a ball hitting Ja’Markis Weston on the head and bouncing up the field for 14 yards.
There is no reason Florida should’ve lost this game but this team’s refused to fully show up on the road in 2021 since the Week 2 win over USF. Florida finished the year 0-4 and averaged about 24 points a game in true road contests since that win.
And, unfortunately, its inability to play a full game against Mizzou was the final straw for the Dan Mullen era.