Florida at Missouri score, takeaways: Gators defense dominates after slow start

By Adam Silverstein
November 16, 2019
Florida at Missouri score, takeaways: Gators defense dominates after slow start
Football

Image Credit: GatorsFB / Twitter

It was not always pretty early Saturday afternoon in Columbia, Missouri, but the No. 11 Florida Gators got the job done in dominant fashion with a 23-6 win over the Missouri Tigers. Though Florida (9-2, 6-2 SEC) needs some help to accomplish some of its goals this season, it played a complete game against Missouri (5-5, 2-4 SEC), a team that has given it problems since joining the conference eight years ago.

The Gators have won nine regular-season games for the second straight year under head coach Dan Mullen, the first time the team has accomplished that in a decade (2008-09). They are also the clear second-place finisher in the SEC East for the second straight season, unless some of that aforementioned help comes through later Saturday.

Let’s take a look at what we learned from Florida’s win in its final SEC game of the 2019 season.

1. Defense rules: The Gators defense has been criticized at times this season — and for good reason — but it’s last 10 quarters of football have been phenomenal. Florida has only allowed one touchdown in the last 150 minutes of football (to Georgia three weeks ago) and has gone eight straight quarters without allowing a TD, all in SEC play. It has beaten its last two opponents by a combined 80-6 and picked off three more passes in that span, keeping it second nationally. The Gators are also top 10 in sacks, red-zone defense and scoring defense this season.

Florida had three sacks on Misosuri transfer quarterback Kelly Bryant but had plenty more hurries, pushing him out of the pocket and forcing him to be creative with his legs nearly every series. The Gators totaled 10 tackles for loss, and redshirt sophomore cornerback Marco Wilson sealed the game with a late interception. Particularly impressive once again was graduate transfer defensive end Jon Greenard, who had six solo tackles (five for lost yardage) and two sacks.

2. The offensive line remains a problem: Just as it looked like Florida’s offensive front was beginning to figure things out, it had an awful day against Mizzou. Redshirt junior QB Kyle Trask was sacked on four critical drives, and the standard running game was basically non-existent with running backs totaling 23 yards on nine carries. Mullen got creative running with redshirt freshman QB Emory Jones and junior athlete Kadarius Toney, but it was clear that the Gators knew they had a problem entering the game.

Trask was ultimately OK, completing 23-of-35 passes for 282 yards and two third-quarter touchdowns, but he was unable to trust his line throughout the game and nearly threw between 2-4 interceptions, depending on your vantage point. Two of them would have been devastating. It was not Trask’s best game, but those turnovers ultimately did not happen, and he delivered a couple key touchdown tosses to seniors wide receiver Josh Hammond (two receptions, 45 yards) and running back Lamical Perine (four receptions, 24 yards), who each made incredible catches.

3. Special teamers were aces: It was a punting clinic for much of the game with redshirt senior Tommy Townsend winning the battle. He gave the Gators great field position all afternoon, punting eight times for 366 yards (45.8 average) with a long of 71 (!) and three total of 50+ yards. Sophomore kicker Evan McPherson also went 3-for-3 on field goals, hitting from 47, 39 and 22 yards. The two he netted in the first half gave Florida a 6-3 lead at the break, providing the team some positive momentum despite two drives being stalled by aforementioned sacks.

4. Odds and ends: Florida is now 4-5 all-time against Mizzou, 4-4 since the Tigers joined the SEC … the Gators have outscored opponents 220-69 in the second half and 111-29 in the fourth quarter this season … Florida is 14-2 against unranked teams under Mullen … the Gators are 13-0 when scoring first, 15-0 when leading after the third quarter, 14-0 when allowing 20 points or fewer and 15-0 when outrushing their opponent under Mullen … Florida has 96 offensive TDs in 24 games under Mullen after scoring 93 in 38 games from 2015-17 … UF has scored in 396 consecutive games, an NCAA record

5. What’s next? Florida will have its third and final bye week as it prepares to end its regular season at home against Florida State. The Gators will host the Seminoles on Saturday, Nov. 30 with a kickoff time yet to be determined. UF ended a five-game losing streak to FSU last season and is looking to win two straight in the series for the first time since winning six in a row from 2004-09.

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