Florida endures another painful loss to Missouri

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Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks (13) is brought down in the first half Saturday against Missouri at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Cyndi Chambers/Correspondent]

With a five-game winning streak that vaulted Florida back into the realm of the relevant — and into the top 10 — in college football, the Gators appeared so close to becoming championship contenders just a few weeks ago.

Now, it feels like they are miles and miles away again — right where many thought they were before the start of the season.

That’s what a blowout loss at home to an unranked opponent can do.

“Harsh reality for us as a team,” UF coach Dan Mullen said.

On a perfect fall afternoon in The Swamp, the No. 11 (CFP) Gators turned in a perfectly ugly performance on all fronts Saturday in a humbling 38-17 Homecoming loss to Missouri, a team that had been winless in the SEC this season.

So, the Gators (6-3, 4-3 SEC) are no longer going to be considered contenders. They may, however, be viewed as close to being a mess.

Not only did the Gators lose big, there’s now a quarterback controversy to deal with, perhaps for the rest of 2018, perhaps for only just a few days this week in practice.

Struggling starter Feleipe Franks was benched in the third quarter and replaced with sophomore Kyle Trask. Trask lit a momentary spark, leading the Gators on a TD drive late in the third quarter, but his momentum quickly stalled out just like everybody else’s in orange and blue Saturday.

Mullen said he will decide during practice this week who will start against South Carolina on Saturday.

“We’ll see,” Mullen said. “We’ll see how they perform this week. If there’s a drastic change, we’ll make a change. If not, we’ll play with who is going to give us the best chance to win.”

Other than when he led the Gators on a touchdown drive late in the first half that put the Gators back in the game at 21-10, Franks was ineffective the rest of the time he was on the field.

He completed only nine of 22 passes for just 84 yards and had problems converting third downs.

After two consecutive three-and-outs, followed by Missouri touchdowns after each one, to start the second half, Mullen made the decision to sit Franks and go with Trask, a move that sparked the offense — and the crowd — but only momentarily.

“We weren’t moving the ball very well,” Mullen said. “We were behind and I wanted to try and do something different. What we were doing wasn’t working.

“We wanted to see if something else would create a spark.”

Trask did create a spark, throwing a 7-yard touchdown pass to Josh Hammond on a fourth-down play late in the third quarter to make it a 35-17 game. But the spark went out after that.

Trask finished with 10 completions in 18 attempts for 125 yards and the touchdown.

Mullen said he gave Trask an opportunity to play because he had a good week in practice.

“We didn’t pull (Franks) because he was terrible,” Mullen said. “We pulled him because the offense wasn’t moving. We wanted to see if somebody else could get us going.”

Franks wasn’t the only one on offense — or defense and special teams, for that matter — that had a bad day.

There were struggles everywhere you turned.

The Gators produced only 323 yards of total offense and converted just three of 15 third-down plays, while the defense had no answer for quarterback Drew Lock and the potent Missouri offense.

Lock threw for 250 yards and three touchdowns and basically wasn’t touched in the pocket. And the Tigers converted 11 of 18 third-down plays to stay on the field.

UF also lost the special teams battle.

“We didn’t play very well at all with attention to detail, our sense of urgency, our execution,” Mullen said. “That’s all on coaches. We’ve got to do a better job in all three phases.

“Situational football, we were horrific on third down on both sides of the ball. Big special teams penalties. No game-changing special teams plays. Negative special teams plays most of the day.”

A program that was trending up heading into the Georgia game a week ago, now has the arrow pointing sideways at best.

Many will view this as a setback in Mullen’s rebuilding process. And a reality check for everyone in the program.

“Yeah, it was a reality check for a lot of us,” junior running back Jordan Scarlett said. “Lot of guys thought they were better than what they were and we’ve just got to come back and work harder. Everyone needs to hold each other accountable and we need to play better, practice better.”

Mullen said there’s still a lot to play for this season and he’s looking for players who feel the same way and are ready to compete harder than ever.

“We get a great chance to see where we’re at as a program,” he said. “They keep score. Someone wins and someone loses.

“I don’t care what we’re doing. You want to thumb wrestle me right now? I’m going to kick your ass. You want to run stadiums? I’ll kick your ass. You’re going to keep score and someone is going to win and someone is going to lose.

“I want to beat your ass. If you don’t have that attitude in the locker room, you’ve got a problem.”


Up next

Who: South Carolina (5-3, 4-3 SEC) vs. Florida (6-3, 4-3)

When: TBA, Saturday

Where: Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

TV: TBA

Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850

45 COMMENTS

      • I think it’s too early to anoint him savior or the 2nd coming of McElwain (for the love I hope not). Anyone who says they definitely know one way or the other is just making an educated (hopefully educated) guess based on the limited data we have thus far. The sky isn’t falling nor have we arrived to the mountain top obviously.

        For the moment, all the angry rants you’ve been giving on this site appear to have merit…for the moment. Without trying to sound attacking, I would caution you on gloating and shouting too much to the world that you’ve been right all along. It makes you seem like you’d rather be right than be wrong and have a winning team. That’s not a good look for a true fan, but that’s just MY opinion. Feel free to ignore it.

        • DallasGator. No, I won’t ignore it. You are right. The floating can only go on so long before it becomes counterproductive. But it’s only been a few hours so far. Lol. But what you are saying is exactly what I said. At this point, we don’t know. And our short fused fans went ballistic when I said it. We won’t know by the end of this season and we won’t know by the end of next season either most likely. It truly takes a good 3-4 years to see how a coach is going to pan out. Harbaugh was on the hot seat at Michigan this year and even hotter after the ND game. Now they love him. When a program is in a sustained lull, it takes time to get out of it. I still think firing both Muschamp and McElwain were mistakes. My biggest issue with McElwain firing was how it was done. They used a bogus excuse (death threats) and let it leak out the morning of the Georgia game and then had the gall to act as if the outcome of the Georgia game was part of the reason he got fired. The game wouldn’t have went as bad as it did had the admin not leaked the firing before the game! And does anyone believe if Mac had been undefeated at that time that the admin would have even cared about the death threat comments. And to top it off, they tried to screw him out of his buyout. But I digress. I just hope fans keep a level head about the tailspin the team is in right now and don’t turn on Mullen the way they have other coaches and players.

          • I’m sure it felt good to get off your chest. I’d like to say I’ve never gloated when I was right…of course I can’t remember the last time I was wrong so…;D

          • Muchamp was fired because he was too stubborn. He believed he could win championships with a great defense and an awful offense. Saban figured he needed an offense to win championships. His recruiting on defense was elite, but Florida wasn’t recruiting elite offensive players. His buddy Foley tried to save him, but it was too late.

            MacElwain was fired for his stubbornness and loyalty to Nussmeir and his calling out the AD/administration for lack of financial support. How dare he want a level playing field with Alabama! Stricklin was looking for an excuse to fire him. MacElwain’s glib attitude made it easy for the fans to accept.

            Mullen will get a long rope. He is a Stricklin guy.

            Blame Foley and the administration for the current state of Florida football. They decided to take a back seat in the arms war of college football. Kids like their haircuts, bowling alleys, weight rooms and nutrition centers in their deluxe football only complexes. Let’s see if Stricklin keeps delaying the construction to build out other projects.

  1. And we easily could lose to South Carolina next week. Then, Mullen will start eerily looking like McElwain. Hmmmmmm, seems like someone said this could happen. And was attacked and ridiculed for it. Can’t remember who though. Lol

    • We’ll lose to fsu as well this year has done the unfathomable and somehow became a dumpster fire vandy was a warning uga was a wake up and then this crap 7-5 anyways I can’t bwkieve the players thought this game would be easy that is a culture problem the athletic dept has become so laid back it’s ymca youth basketball it’s crazy given Missouri bear us 44-16 last year there needs to be boot camp all game week . Granthem must be fired I’ve seen enough of that defense , franks never should’ve ever started and tbd defense have no idea what the hell is going on it’s obvious no one in the Florida athletic dept has any idea past decade will someone please step in and take over this crap why are we still not in the top 10 for recruiting ???? It’s time to start firing ppl and bringing in ppl not just the coaching Mullen I think will work but it’s timd to bring in a front office to administer him for one the stupid idea to play franks this entire time I think any of us knew already back in January framks was a lost cause and not worth the effort . I want a department created just for football recruiting to operate separate from coaching staff , a panel of experts elite talent evaluators and good marketers that can go get tons of 5 Stars it’s all a mess it’s tome ppl step in

      • If we keep firing coaches every two years no coach will come here. We gave the other two bums four years let’s give this guy more than a year. Players come to a school mostly because of the coaching staff. All the marketing in the world is not going to bring a player to a school if they are not convinced the coaching staff can win. He has played Franks because there is no one else. I think Jones will see action against USC and FSU. No need to play him against Idaho, Franks should be able twin that one. Trask looked great on his first drive, but not very good on the second one. Fans want to keep telling themselves that this team is loaded with talent. IT IS NOT!

    • LT that’s easy to access when this team is broken, I still say Franks has broken this team belief in they can win. Remember Jeff Driskel, Muschamp, would not pull him until his job was on the line, Driskel got hurt early in the season and I forget what game it was, Tyler Murphy came in off the practice squad, Brissett transferred I don’t blame he’s in the NFL, and that team performed better just off his presence. You won’t tell me a broken QB won’t drag a team motivation down, and a change at QB won’t motivate a team to play. Players read these comments, they here it from family members people they respect, you’re not the only one who see a team with broken spirit and predict they could loose two or three more games.

    • LSU was a bad matchup for Bama. Average teams have scored in the 20’s against bama because they had a good passing QB. LSU’s strength is in their running game and Al’s rush defense is their strength. LSU has an average Passer. Yet LSU’s defense kept Bama way below their average game score. If LSU had a QB like Luck they might have won.

      • Do you really think qb is the only problem LSU had? You really think LSU is only one player away from being on Alabama’s level? That’s was a total beat down. Tom Brady could have been playing for LSU and they couldn’t have won that game.

      • Daz, it seems a little odd to say LSU was a bad matchup for Bama after Bama gave them a 29 point (should’ve been 31) beat down. Average teams score in the 20’s against Bama, because Bama scores quickly and gives them lots of possessions. Bama also puts average teams away early and plays their second and third string for most of the 3rd & 4th quarters. Bama dominated LSU in Death Valley, and while Drew Lock, or Andrew Luck for that matter, might have helped, LSU wasn’t beating Bama.

    • Florida will not be an elite program until the administration supports the football program. Florida should already have their football complex. Heck, Kentucky has had one for 2 years. Alabama started the trend. Florida is way behind. Every other sport at Florida got new facilities. Dan Mullen is behind the 8-ball when it comes to recruiting 5-star recruits. Anyone who thinks a coach can win championships consistently with 3 and 4-star players needs a reality check. There is a not so magic formula for winning and it is $ = championships.

      • Well said. Nice to hear really good constructive comments, and yes criticisms from this board… finally. Especially when it comes to Franks, which all begins with the QB selection from Mullen and the QB coach. Until you admit there is a problem, it will never get fixed. Plus, what a great story Trask is of unselfishness over his career and hidden talent. Funny how Franks was pouting and sulking the entire time Trask was doing great. Never supporting his teammate and team during that last quarter.

  2. I said before the game that we didnt know what team would show up after that loss to Ga and it would tell us alot how they would compete against SC. Well now we know, they gave up once they didnt have the SEC east and a NC to play for anymore and reverted to the team that played UK. They have the ability to be elite as they shown us but dont have the motivation as a team(I know of course, certain players do). The one I blame the most?… Dan Mullen. i love the coach but he has a blind spot.
    ““We didn’t pull (Franks) because he was terrible,” Mullen said. “We pulled him because the offense wasn’t moving.” Yea, the OFFENSE wasnt MOVING because he is TERRIBLE throwing the ball! Spurrier would have pulled him way sooner in the game. Poor Trask was thrown into a game with NO momentum and expected to revive it, with an opposing defense that had their ears pinned back and the confidence built up from a lead to crush him. Still he managed to do what Franks couldnt muster convincingly and drive down and score. Had he been put in the 1st half after repeated failed attempts to pass by Franks, and the lead was less, and the rest of the team still had hope, he might have been able to create a spark and the defense would have responded and picked up their game. Clearly UF has a weakness on pass defense. Mullen’s game was to target Mo’s weak pass defense, thats why Franks was passing so much, because they have a great rush defense. Clearly mullen had the wrong QB in for that game plan. Since he had a QB that is a good passer and accurate he should have played him to start knowing he fit the game plan much better. But he held on till there was virtually NO hope, then he made the switch.
    This game should have been a gimme but now I think they lose to SC too, because SC is a better team than Mo with a much better record.

  3. I sadly made the trip to the game. The entire day was disappointing. Our offense was disappointing, our defense was disappointing and were one lucky bounce off the goal post from our special teams being disappointing. What was most disappointing for me was the crowd. I kept telling my wife how awesome games in the Swamp were and we wouldn’t be able to hear each other. Never got close to that, even at the beginning of the game. It’s just not the same place I remember.

    I’ve defended Franks all year and have been his biggest supporter. I’ve continually made excuses for him and gave him the benefit of the doubt but after watching two quarters of dreadful offense I was calling for Trask.
    It was louder for Trask with half the stadium empty than at any point with Franks in the game. He actually gave me (and our fans) hope for the first time all game when he came in and drove us down the field for a touchdown. Mullen said poor ol Franks was always on his back but when Trask went in he was running for his life and still looked superior and with better stats from only two or three series. Trask also squares and lowers his shoulder on runs in lieu of the deer like runs Franks has made all year.

    I love Mullen but if someone like me can see these things then he has to see them as well. I know he’s got pride and an ego (they all have egos) but I hope he doesn’t let them get the better of him. I mean, if Trask goes in and stinks up the place then so be it but he can’t be any worse than what I witnessed in person. Go Gators!

  4. For those of you that are old enough to remember what I am talking about, watching the game almost felt like watching Beavis and Butthead sitting on the couch making stupid comments on MTV. “This sucks more than anything that has ever sucked before”.
    The difference was the quarterback I guess. Drew Lock had a great game, and I can see why he is NFL bound. I can also see how the entire team, offense, defense, coaching staff, and the crowd, all get completely demoralized by yet another incomplete pass from Franks, even to guys that are wide open.
    It is what it is, but it is hard to spot any sort of progress…

  5. I remain a believer in CDM, but must say that I am disappointed in his unwillingness to be frank (no pun intended) about his QB situation. He could acknowledge the truth without demeaning any players or throwing anyone under the proverbial bus. To say that they did not pull Franks because he was terrible is misleading at best, and deceptive at worst. Franks was terrible! The fans, the commentators, the opposing team, and Franks’ own teammates could see it. I have observed before that Franks is as good as he is ever going to be. I hope CDM’s ego is not blinding him to that fact. In Franks’ case, CDM is not going to make him a better QB. So far, Mullen has enjoyed great fan support for his rebuilding program, and he will continue to deserve and receive that support – as long as he refrains from treating the fans like idiots and insisting that they are not really seeing what is quite obvious on the field.

  6. This is why “The Bear” and Saban are the best coaches in history: NO regression when they have the players. Saban keeps reloading OC & DC every year and keeps winning NCs. This was a total game of regression, except the kicking game (now 13 for 13). There is a locker room issue going on here, that’s the only way to explain this regression game. O and D lines had their manhood handed back to them with no workable D coaching plan, AKA the UK game. I’m still a Dan Mullen guy, because I know he can’t replace this teams brains in one season. We WERE on track for 10-2, now we’ve regressed back to 7-5 or 6-6…does any body know how to make the jog north from I-10 to Shreveport? That’s where this team is headed.

  7. I’ve got two suggestions for Coach Mullen: The first is to keep the players as far away from reporters and microphones as possible. That way they won’t look like total morons when getting their butts handed to them after bragging about how “they gonna take the Swamp back.” The second is to make the players run the steps until they puke if they’re caught running around with their index finger pointing up as if they’re #1 while getting their butts handed to them by a team that hasn’t even won a conference game yet. The Gators should be feeling totally humiliated this morning.

  8. A step backward. Really backward, all the way backward. It had to happen sometime in the first season, ie, lose one you’re supposed to win. Law of Averages, that sort of thing. Well, we really did — big time. Bad loss. Killeen High School probably could have taken us to the wood shed based on the uninspired way we played Saturday. Embarrassing. Humiliating. Pathetic. Empty seats in the Swamp, the whole nine yards.

    OK, fine. Now we have a chance to see what we’re really made of. What will it be? Year One. Go Gators!

  9. I have supported Dan Mullen and his choice of Franks this year.
    I was delighted to see that he inserted Trask into the game this weekend. I wish it had been sooner.
    The Coach has been right all year on the QB issue. He has been the QB Whisperer as advertised.
    I believe the Coach and we have seen enough at this point of the season to know a few things:
    Franks is not the short term answer. He has not progressed at the level we had hoped. His judgment and temperament as a QB are questionable. His long pass accuracy and touch are flawed. To his credit, he has made some improvements but these alone, are not sufficient to compete with top tier opponents.
    We need to start looking now towards next year. I believe it’s time to give Trask the start in the remaining games and to insert more packages for Jones in two more games. We should red shirt him.
    Let’s finish the year strong and win a good Bowl Game and some top recruits.
    Next year let’s give Trask and Jones and a top recruit most of the snaps in Spring and Summer camps.
    The cream will rise to the top, as always.

  10. Daz & Alum84…You guys called on Trask repeatedly the the chagrin of many, me included. Franks…and no personal attack on the guy…just doesn’t have it. Might as well move on to the next if his ceiling in realized (which I believe it is). That said, the play calling by CDM left much to be desired in his “slight” defense. I said PLENTY of times that Mizzou scared the hell out of me because we tend to lay an egg emotionally. They have a balanced offense and were better than their record. Anyone that watched them play UGA…they had a similar game where physically they stood up, but lost the turnover battle. We were FLAT…and could not run the ball…so I knew we were doomed. 3rd and Grantham is starting to be a pattern as well. If we just could have converted on 3rd down the last 2 games now…we could have been in the games longer.

    Nothing like a cold water splash to get us back to reality…but I still like the direction we are headed…and will not start the firing campaign like I saw earlier. That’s insane. GO GATORS.

  11. These are the same players that went 4-7 last year. These are the same players that were more interested in playing with air guns and chasing rental car employees around than doing the right thing this summer. These are the same players that stole credit card numbers and gave up in multiple games last year. This is the same program that averages 5+ losses in the last 9 years. This is the same program that has had two losing seasons in the past 5 years. This is the same program that had a hot head, followed by an idiot at the helm the last 7 years. These guys were overseen by an athletic director whose time had passed him by and had one foot out the door.

    Everybody who didn’t see a game like this coming is blind. Mullen inherited a mess and he has turned that mess into something that resembles a contender at times. He can only do so much with this team. He has us on the right track but you can’t undo 9 years of stupid in 9 games. The media likes to jump on bandwagons and then burn it down when it doesn’t work out and the fans follow suit. Mullen needs time. Mullen needs his own players. This was bound to happen and the rest of the season will depend on the backbone of these players more than the ability of our coach. Those players gave up last year and now it is time to see if they will give up this year. Mullen is tough. Mullen is a realist. Mullen is a hard worker.
    There are a ton of his players who aren’t and that’s not his fault.