By: CJ Rooks (@cjrooks0415)
The 22nd ranked Florida Gators will take on the 14th ranked Missouri Tigers Saturday. Florida will look to earn a victory against this Tigers team after a poor performance against the LSU Tigers last week.
The biggest story leading into the game has to be the undefeated record of Missouri. The Tigers upset the Georgia Bulldogs last week in their biggest win since joining the SEC. Unfortunately for Missouri, it lost its starting quarterback James Franklin in the victory. Franklin will be out for the next 6 games with a shoulder injury. This is a devastating blow to a team that was on a roll. Starting for the Tigers will be redshirt freshmen Maty Mauk. Mauk was a dual threat quarterback in high school and will have a tough first start against the Gators. The Gator defense will need to rebound after a less than impressive showing last week. The Tigers average over 500 yards a game on offense and can run or pass the ball effectively. They have big wide receivers’ that will test the Gators secondary. Also the Gator defensive line cannot get pushed off the ball like last week and will need to get pressure on the quarterback. The hardest part of defending Mauk is the lack of tape on him. Mauk has played sparingly this season and does not have much experience. The Gators will have to make adjustments after each series. If they don’t, Missouri has the capability to put up points and this can get ugly. Gator fans should not be fooled. This Missouri team is out to prove they are not the doormat of the SEC.
Florida will be coming into this game without a major contributor in Matt Jones. The Gators have been bitten badly by the injury bug and Jones is another devastating injury added to an already long list. The young Kelvin Taylor will look to fill the void left by Jones. Taylor is a true freshman, but has the skill set and explosiveness to be effective. The Tigers do not defend the pass well and are mediocre against the run. They give up over 290 yards a game in the air, so the Gator wide receivers should be able to get separation and make plays. This matchup looks like a perfect recipe for a team struggling on offense. Florida will need to take advantage of their scoring opportunities this week and cannot settle for field goals. This Missouri team can score quick and often and the Gators do not want to get into a shootout. The game plan for the Gators should be to jump out to an early lead and let your defense bring the pressure against Missouri’s young quarterback. If the Gators can do that they will have no trouble earning the win.
Florida would love to defeat Missouri and enjoy their bye week before a showdown with Georgia in two weeks. Preparing for that game is always very strenuous and the Gators do not need the thought of a two game losing streak in the back of their mind. Florida still controls their own destiny and even with the loss of key players the Gators still have plenty of talent to win. That is one thing Muschamp does not get enough credit for. The depth of this Gator team is very impressive and other teams do not have that to fall back on. Muschamp will need to coach up the freshmen and let them know the importance of this game because he will need them to be successful. This Gator team must take it one game at a time.
The season is not yet a failure and the Gators could still have a great year. Fans are not accustomed to this type of play and watching can cause a lot of pain and heartache, but also some joy. Gator fans you have be warned.
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