After an unanticipated bye week, Florida Gators football is back and attempting to find its groove once again after underwhelming performances in consecutive Southeastern Conference games. On Saturday, Florida will do its best to post a win on homecoming in what will now be the team’s second-to-last home game of the season.
Here’s what you need to know and how you can watch Florida-Missouri.
Location: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium – Gainesville, Florida [Capacity: 88,548]
Weather: 82°F (feels like 86°F), 20 percent chance of rain, winds ENE at 12 mph
Time: 4 p.m. EST
TV: SEC Network (Brent Musburger, Jesse Palmer, Kaylee Hartung)
Live Updates: @OnlyGators on Twitter
Tale of the tape
|No. 18 Florida Gators||Missouri Tigers|
|Head Coach||Jim McElwain||Barry Odom|
|Record||4-1 (2-1 SEC)||2-3 (0-2 SEC)|
Four things to know
1. Time doesn’t heal all wounds: Though some Gators appear to have used the time off to get healthy, Florida is far from having its full complement of players entering Saturday’s game. Most notable is redshirt junior defensive tackle Caleb Brantley, whose hand injury appeared to frustrate McElwain on Wednesday. “He didn’t go a full day today. I don’t know what his deal is, but you know what, we’ll have guys that show up and play,” McElwain said when addressing Brantley’s injury. Later, McElwain said he had no issues with the player. “I’m not frustrated with him. He’s a great player. He can dominate a game. Sometimes he’s his own worst enemy because he’s so hard on himself rather than — clap it off, go play the next play.”
2. Don’t discount Missouri: While the Tigers may not be the most intimidating opponent the Gators will face this season, Florida is quite aware that Missouri has more than enough talent to pull off the upset on Saturday. I’ll leave it to McElwain to explain what about Mizzou is particularly threatening for Florida. “The kind of team that gives us a ton of trouble because of the amount of explosive plays they create. When you look at their explosive play total, they’ve already doubled it from a year ago and they’re only five games in,” he began. “They haven’t given up sacks. The quarterback gets it out of his hand in [Josh] Heupel’s system. … [Drew] Lock is doing a hell of a job with that [run-pass option], too. This guy’s got a great arm and is a really good player. Obviously, defensively, [they’re] getting a ton of hands on the ball. They’re around the ball a ton. That defensive end that gave us trouble last year is back and playing lights out.”
3. Keep your nose clean: Gators are currently ranked 102nd nationally in penalties per game, having committed 38 this season through five contests. Whereas Florida looked like it had been getting that under control in Year 1 under McElwain, 2016 has been a different story. “What’s that tell me? I’ll tell you what it tells me is we’ve got some selfish guys,” McElwain said. “Let’s put it this way: It’s not something we practice. But it’s also a choice. I’m OK with effort penalties; I’m OK with that, sometimes it’s the game. It’s the unforced errors that need to be cut down.” UF ensuring it keeps its nose clean on Saturday would go a long way to helping it stay on level throughout the game.
4. Improvement needed in all phases: McElwain mentioned this during the week, but Florida truly needs to play better in all three phases of the game. The offense has been incredibly inefficient over the last six quarters. The defense has certainly given up some big-time plays. While kicking and punting have looked great on special teams, the Gators have gotten nothing from their return game, failed to block or get pressure on kicks and punts, and not necessarily been fantastic in coverage. If the Gators truly worked on themselves over the last two weeks, some of these issues should be corrected on Saturday in a game where Florida may find opportunities to take advantage of its opponent.
Pick and analysis
Spread: Florida -13.5 | O/U: 52
Missouri has posted 79 and 61 points already this season but did so taking advantage of two incredibly weak opponents. Against the best two teams the Tigers have faced this season (both on the road), they’ve combined to score 18 points. While Florida’s defense has certainly been struggling and could relent some against Missouri (particularly early in the game), I see the Gators eventually hitting a stride on both sides of the ball and shutting down their visitors.
Florida should be jacked up and primed to bounce back from a bad last six quarters. We’ve seen flashes of the Gators looking like SEC East contenders, and this is a great spot for them to build some confidence. The spread is too large, but I’m going to pull a Costanza and go against intuition since I’ve been so wrong this season and suggest taking Florida to cover. The total should easily fall under.
2016 records: ATS picks 2-3 | O/U picks 2-3
Injuries and absences
Probable (4): QB Luke Del Rio (knee), RG Tyler Jordan (eye), LB Daniel McMillian (shoulder), DB Joseph Putu (ankle)
Questionable (6): DT Caleb Brantley (hand), WR Chris Thompson (hamstring), WR C.J. Worton (undisclosed), LB Jeremiah Moon (thumb), LB Kylan Johnson (leg), CB Chris Williamson (knee)
Out (5): DL Justus Reed (undisclosed), DT Joey Ivie (thumb), DE Jordan Sherit (leg), DB Quincy Lenton (foot), WR Kalif Jackson (knee)
Out for the season (3): WR Dre Massey (knee), OL Antonio Riles (knee), DB C.J. McWilliams (undisclosed)
» Florida is 2-3 all-time against Missouri and 1-1 in Gainesville. The teams began playing each other regularly once Mizzou joined the SEC in 2012 and have split those four games 2-2.
» The Gators have won their games by an average of 10.5 points since 2012, while the Tigers’ victories have come by an average of 24.0 points.
» Florida’s defense has been a hallmark of the program; UF is 208-11 since 1990 when an opponent scores 21 points or fewer in a contest, including 13-0 under McElwain.
» Also under McElwain, the Gators are 13-0 against unranked opponents and 1-5 against ranked opponents. Florida is 11-0 when outrushing an opponent and 11-1 when leading at half.
» The Gators own the nation’s longest streak of returning either a kickoff or punt for a touchdown, doing so in 11 straight seasons. They have yet to accomplish that in 2016.
» UF has the second-most wins in the nation since 1990 (253).
Quote of the week
“If you’re so selfish that all you can do is worry about numbers, then go be an accountant.” — McElwain on players doing too much rather than their jobs
Florida will be wearing blue jerseys, orange helmets and white pants. The team captains, which change weekly, are responsible for choosing the uniforms ahead of each game.
— GatorsEquipment (@GatorsEquipment) October 15, 2016