Take Five Breakdown: Florida-Missouri Preview

Nov 18, 2021 | 0 comments

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The Florida Gators travel to Columbia, Missouri to face off with the Missouri Tigers this Saturday needing a win to become bowl eligible. After talking to Wilson Moore of the Columbia Missourian and Mitchell Forde, the Missouri beat writer for PowerMizzou.com, here is the Take Five Preview of the Missouri Tigers.

Five Missouri Tigers to keep an eye on

Tyler Badie, Running Back, Senior

  • The Skinny: The Louisiana native is the heart and soul of the offense, and he has carried his team to victory multiple times in 2021. He is the leading rusher in the SEC with 1,239 rushing yards and the margin is not even close as the 2nd leading rusher is over 200 yards behind Badie. Just this week, Badie was named a semifinalist for the Doak Walker Award, which goes to the best running back in college football. His skills extend beyond carrying the rock as he leads the team with 50 receptions and four receiving touchdowns. “He’s the total package: He’s shifty enough to make people miss in the open field and fast enough to hit the home run. He’s durable enough to run between the tackles and handle 30-plus touches a game.”, Forde said.

Martez Manuel, Safety, Junior

  • The Skinny: The hometown kid has come through in a big way in 2021 and is the steadying force in the secondary. Both Moore and Forde said the secondary is the strength of the defense, and Manuel is the leader of the group who rarely comes off the field, according to Forde. Manuel leads the team with 64 tackles and is third with 7 tackles for loss and has 3.5 sacks. Those numbers show that Manuel is not afraid to come into the box and help stop the run, which will be key for the Tigers defense as they try to stop the 9th best run offense in the country. I expect Manuel to play at the line of scrimmage most of the game as the Missouri defense will load the box and force Emory Jones to beat them with his arm.

Tauskie Dove, Wide Receiver, Redshirt Junior

  • The Skinny: The Gator secondary has been susceptible to giving up big plays in the passing game all season and Missouri has weapons that can stretch the field vertically and Dove could be the guy to take advantage of this weakness. According to Forde, Dove mostly operates downfield and is at his best catching 50-50 balls. Dove leads the team with 470 receiving yards and is tied for second with 32 receptions but does not have a touchdown. I would not be surprised if he gets behind the defense and gets his first score of 2021 as the Gators will need to have eyes on where he is at all times.

Isaiah McGuire, Defensive Line, Junior

  • The Skinny: McGuire is the top pass rusher on the team as he leads with 10 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks. According to Moore, he has been the bright spot of the defensive line in 2021. He can add to his resume and put forth good game tape for NFL scouts as he faces off against an offensive line that is solid in pass protection. I expect defensive coordinator Steve Wilks will try to get creative with ways for McGuire to put pressure on Jones or Anthony Richardson and force turnovers.

Blaze Alldredge, Linebacker, Graduate Student

  • The Skinny: Alldredge transferred into Columbia from Rice in the spring of this year and brings quite a few accolades from his time with Rice. He was a two-time Conference-USA coach's first-team selection and has done a good job in his first year in the SEC. Alldredge is second on the team with 56 tackles, nine tackles for loss and four sacks. Based off the stats, he is a solid pass rusher but he will have to play a key role in stopping the Gator run game if Missouri wants to pull off the victory.

Five Fast Facts

  • Since coming to the SEC in 2012, Florida leads the series over Missouri by a 5-4 advantage, but the all-time series is 5-5 with Missouri winning the 1966 Sugar Bowl over the Gators. The average margin of victory in those four wins is 24.5 points.
  • Missouri have converted third downs at a rate of 47.3%, which is 13th in the country and 3rd in the SEC. For comparison, the Gators are 37th in the country with a percentage of 43.5.
  • The Tigers defense held South Carolina to 250 yards of offense in last week’s win, which is the lowest number of yards given up by the Tigers defense in 2021. The Tigers’ defense is 118th in the country in scoring and total defense.
  • Running Back Tyler Badie became the first player in program history to have 1,000 rushing yards and 1,000 receiving yards in his career back on October 2nd against Tennessee. Quarterback Connor Bazelak is 7th in the country and 2nd in the SEC with 25.8 completions per game.
  • Missouri head coach Eliah Drinkwitz is in his 2nd season as the head man for the Tigers, he is 8-4 at home and 3-1 in November, which is his best record in any month as the coach of the Tigers. Drinkwitz joined Warren Powers as the only two head coaches in school history to make it into a bowl game during their first season. He joins Frank Broyles, Dan Devine, and Powers as the only head coaches in school history to reach five wins in their first season, Drinkwitz went 5-5 in 2020.

Five Game Day Storylines

Who is playing quarterback for Missouri on Saturday?

  • Connor Bazelak was the starter in 2020 and came into 2021 as QB1 but has dealt with injuries and underperformance in a disappointing campaign. Drinkwitz has been secretive about who will be the starter between Bazelak and Brady Cook, Cook played mop-up duty in their ugly loss to Georgia. According to Forde, all indications point towards Bazelak and Cook taking first-team reps in practice this week and would not be surprised by whoever is chosen as the starter, he mentioned that if Bazelak is the starter, he will be on a short leash.

Will the halftime brawl from the 2020 matchup play a role in the 2021 edition of this series?

  • The scene going into halftime last season was ugly after Kyle Trask was hit late after a pass. Dan Mullen and some players took offense to that and ignited a scene where both teams were in the middle of the field arguing with punches being thrown. Many people blame Mullen for instigating the incident and creating more havoc than needed. Mullen, Drinkwitz and players from both sides have downplayed the incident and they do not expect any carry-over from it. Regardless of what everyone is saying, it could be in the back of some players’ minds and there is always a possibility of leftover anger from the incident. “I don't expect a pregame fight at midfield or anything, but I would think the players remember and there's a little extra juice on both sides for this game.”, Forde said.

Will the Missouri fans show up and create a raucous environment given the struggles the Gators have had on the road in 2021?

  • It’s no secret that the Gators have looked like a completely different team on the road compared to at home in the Swamp. They are 1-3 in away games and those three losses are the games that the team has looked the worst during the season and have fueled the fire surrounding Dan Mullen. Faurot Field does not have the reputation of the Swamp, Death Valley, or Bryant-Denny but it is Senior Day, and the Florida name still carries a lot of weight. The crowd may only reach around 50,000 and that will not be anything new to the Gators but there are other reasons for why that may be an issue. “But maybe that actually works in Missouri's favor, as it would be easy for the Florida team that has clearly lacked some effort and intensity the past couple weeks to kind of sleepwalk through this one.”, Forde said. Forde makes a good point because we have seen this Gator team come out slow in almost every game this season and with not a lot to play for other than pride and a bowl game appearance, there is the possibility of the Gators coming out slow and digging a hole they cannot get out of and the weather is always a factor as the temperature is expected to be in the low to mid-50s.

Can the Missouri defense stop the Gators’ run game?

  • Florida’s bread and butter on offense this season has been their success at running the ball. As said earlier, the Gators are 9th in the country in rushing offense with 227.6 rushing yards per game and presents a good matchup because the Missouri defense allows 248.9 rushing yards per game, which is good enough for 129th in the country. As we saw against South Carolina, Florida came out and threw the ball the first 10 plays of the game and never showed effort at running the ball. So, the key here is to see what Mullen and Co. do with play calling. Missouri will stack the box and force Emory Jones to win the game with his arm and that plays into the strength of the Missouri defense as they allow 207.3 passing yards per game, which is 34th in the country. I do not think Missouri can stop the Gators run game but if they rely on passing more than running then Missouri can take advantage, so it will mostly be up to Mullen and which way he decides to go.

Can the Missouri offense move the ball efficiently and score enough if Tyler Badie is shut down?

  • Badie is the engine of the offense and will be the primary focus of the Gator defense. If the Gator defense has too much focus on Badie, it could lead to big plays in the passing game to Dove, Keke Chism, Barrett Banister, and Mookie Cooper. I do not expect Bazelak or Cook to carry the offense if Badie is slowed but I’ve been surprised many times this season (Jason Brown, South Carolina). The Gators are allowing 157.6 rushing yards per game, which is 78th in the country and the lack of adjustment to the counterplay is well documented in the media. I would not be surprised to see Drinkwitz go to Badie early and often to see if Christian Robinson or Paul Pasqualoni will make any adjustments and force Bazelak or Cook to beat them through the air.

Game Prediction

Missouri 34, Florida 31

Tags: Event

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