Instant Analysis: Gators close SEC play with win

Nov 16, 2019 | 0 comments

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Despite arguably having the talent advantage every year, the Gators have struggled with Missouri since the Tigers joined the SEC in 2012. Missouri won four of the first seven meetings, with all four wins coming by at least 19 points. The Tigers won the last two seasons by a combined score of 83-33.

Saturday had all the makings of another upset loss for No. 11 UF. Kickoff was at 11 a.m. local time in frigid weather, the Gators were coming off a near-flawless beatdown of Vanderbilt and Missouri got quarterback Kelly Bryant back from injury.

Instead, Florida finally solved its Missouri problem by beating the Tigers (5-5, 2-4 SEC) 23-6 on Saturday in Columbia.

Here is our Instant Analysis.

It Was Over When: The first half was an offensive struggle to say the least, as each team punted five times and struggled to keep its quarterback upright. As the second half started with Florida leading 6-3, you got the feeling that the first team to score a touchdown might win the game.

The Gators did just that and distanced themselves in the decisive third quarter thanks to some favorable officiating and big passing plays.

UF forced a three-and-out on the Tigers’ opening possession, but Mohamoud Diabate hit Bryant late out of bounds for a 15-yard penalty. However, in the ensuing scrum, a Missouri offensive lineman threw Luke Ancrum to the ground for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty that canceled out Diabate’s foul and allowed the stop to count.

After an illegal-hands-to-the-face penalty on the Tigers, Kyle Trask connected with Josh Hammond for a 34-yard touchdown down the left sideline.

A Missouri field goal cut UF’s lead to 13-6. On UF’s next possession, the Tigers’ Khalil Oliver appeared to rip the ball out of Kyle Pitts’ hands for an interception. Instead, the officials ruled that Pitts and Oliver had simultaneous possession and awarded the catch to Pitts. The drive ended with Lamical Perine making a highlight-worthy catch in between two defenders for a 15-yard score to essentially put the game away.

They Stole the Show: Receiver Van Jefferson was Trask’s favorite target, and he caught six passes for 82 yards. He seemed to be open over the middle of the field on slants all game long.

Trask completed 23 of 35 passes for 282 yards and the two touchdowns.

Perine wasn’t able to get much going in the running game behind his porous offensive line, but his touchdown grab showed why he will likely have a future in the NFL. He brings value to the Gators with his receiving and pass-protection skills.

Defensive end/linebacker Jonathan Greenard dominated Missouri’s tackles. He recorded two sacks and five tackles-for-loss. On several plays, he met the running back in the backfield almost immediately after the handoff.

For the second straight week, Marco Wilson played at the ‘STAR,’ or nickelback, position. He helped the Gators shore up their deficiencies with covering the middle of the field and tackled well. He made his third interception of the season in the waning moments.

Reserve defensive tackle Tedarrell Slaton continued his strong play of late. He displayed the consistent motor that he was said to lack earlier in his career and was a menace in Missouri’s backfield. He recorded four tackles and a sack.

The Tigers’ Kobie Whiteside recorded a pair of sacks in the first half.

The Stats Don’t Lie: The Gators enjoyed advantages up and down the stat sheet. They outgained the Tigers 386-256, including 330-204 through the air. They even outgained Missouri on the ground, albeit just 56-52. UF averaged 6.2 yards-per-play, compared to just 3.8 for UM. After giving up four sacks in the first half, they didn’t give up one in the second half.

Defensively, they limited the Tigers to 5-for-18 on third downs and picked up three sacks and 10 tackles-for-loss.

Oh What A Play: Three plays after Pitts’ controversial catch, the Gators faced first-and-10 at UM’s 15-yard line. Trask faced pressure and rolled to his left. He lofted a pass that hit Perine in the chest in the end zone. Perine didn’t catch it cleanly, but he pinned it against his chest, got a foot down and held onto the ball as he hit the ground. It was initially ruled an incomplete pass but was overturned by the replay official.

It probably wasn’t the smartest decision by Trask, but Perine bailed him out and helped seal the win.

These Matchups Proved Key: Missouri entered the day allowing just 148 passing yards-per-game, tops in the SEC. While Trask had some poor moments, UF still threw for more than double that amount.

On the other side, Florida’s defensive front limited the Tigers to 1.8 yards-per-carry. They easily could’ve had a few more sacks if not for Bryant’s elusiveness. Other than a 44-yard completion to Jalen Knox in the second quarter, UF’s defensive backs prevented Missouri from establishing much of a vertical passing game.

Up Next: he Gators (9-2, 6-2) will enjoy their third bye week of the season before taking on Florida State (6-5, 4-4 ACC) in the Swamp on Nov. 30 in the regular season finale. In the meantime, UF fans will be nervously glued to their televisions over the next two weeks. Georgia plays at Auburn later Saturday and hosts Texas A&M next Saturday. If the Bulldogs lose both games, the Gators will be SEC East champions and head to Atlanta for the SEC Championship Game on Dec. 7.


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