[Updated: 4:20 p.m.] COLUMBIA, Mo. — Before every game, veteran college football writer Robbie Andreu comes up with five pertinent questions and then answers them after the game. Here’s Week 8:
1. How will Florida’s young secondary hold up against quarterback Drew Lock and an explosive Missouri passing game?
It didn’t hold up at all. It was torched. Lock had all day to throw and open receivers to throw to, making it a simple game of pitch-and-catch for the Tigers. It was almost ridiculous how easily the Missouri wide receivers were getting behind the UF cornerbacks. DBU is a distant memory now.
2. Will the Gators play looser and with more confidence under interim head coach Randy Shannon.
Instead of loose and confident, the Gators appeared totally indifferent about this game, especially on defense, where UF seemed to almost quit at times. There was no passion, no energy on either side of the ball for a team that showed plenty of both in practice throughout the week.
3. Can senior running back Mark Thompson finally have a breakthrough performance for the Gators?
It’s hard for a guy this big, this strong and this fast to disappear like he does, but somehow he does. It happened yet again. Thompson saw considerable playing time behind Lamical Perine, but was a non-factor as a runner and a receiver.
4. Will the Gators have any success throwing the ball downfield?
Malik Zaire’s pocket presence and ability to find receivers down the field was perhaps the only bright spot for the Gators on this long, gray afternoon. Zaire hit some big plays in an area the Gators have largely ignored this season — down the middle of the field. Unfortunately for UF, Zaire’s best throw of the day — a 40-yard TD strike to Tyrie Cleveland late in the second quarter — was called back by a holding call on tackle Martez Ivey. Even though Feleipe Franks threw a late TD pass and Randy Shannon said the position would be re-evaluated this week, Zaire would appear to be the quarterback moving forward.
5. UF has worked hard on special teams this week. Will it be noticeable today?
It was noticeable, all right. Noticeably worse. In fact, a new problem emerged Saturday. Eddy Pineiro, who had not had a kickoff returned this season before this game, mishit his kickoffs and all failed to reach the end zone, and Missouri returner Larry Rountree time after time. So, now we can add kick coverage to the long list of failures on special teams this season. The muffed punt by Brandon Powell that set up Missouri’s first TD set the bad early tone. Nothing good happened after that on special teams.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.