Notebook: Florida's Riggs ejected from game
Published: Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 6:06 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 6:06 p.m.
COLUMBIA, Mo. — Saturday's game probably could not have started any worse for the Gators. On the first offensive play, the defense gave up a 41-yard pass play and lost a starter for the rest of the game when safety Cody Riggs was ejected for targeting.
Maty Mauk threw a 20-yard TD pass to Bud Sasser on the next play to give the Tigers a 7-0 lead and all the momentum.
Riggs is the second UF player ejected for targeting this season.
Cornerback Brian Poole was called for leading with his helmet in the second half of the Tennessee game and had to sit out the first half of the following game against Kentucky.
“I didn't see it,” UF coach Will Muschamp said. “It's a bang-bang play. Again, I think the rule is good. I don't think the ejection is right. He went down to catch the ball.
“It was the correct call. I don't disagree with the call. I disagree with kicking a kid out of the game in that situation. He wasn't maliciously trying to hurt anybody. Ridiculous.”
Because Riggs was ejected in the first half, he will not be suspended from the first half of the Georgia game in two weeks.
Powell, Jacobs sit out game
The Gators played without two defensive starters Saturday — outside linebacker Ronald Powell and tackle Damien Jacobs.
Powell sprained his ankle in the LSU game a week ago. He made the trip to Columbia, but his right foot remained in a protective boot.
Muschamp said Jacobs is still recovering from a hit he took to the head (without his helmet on) in the LSU game. Jacobs did not travel with the team this weekend.
Outside linebacker Darrin Kitchens (shoulder) also did not make the trip.
With Jacobs out Saturday, the Gators were down to three defensive tackles — Leon Orr, Darious Cummings and Jonathan Bullard, the starter at defensive end.
Two other tackles made the trip and dressed — Jay-nard Bostwick and Joey Ivie. But they did not play and the coaching staff is hoping to redshirt the two true freshmen.
Missouri also played without a defensive starter Saturday. Standout senior cornerback E.J. Gaines injured a quad muscle in the Tigers' win over Georgia last Saturday and was unable to return to practice during the week. He was replaced in the lineup by true freshman Aarion Penton.
The Gators also had more injuries in the game Saturday. Outside linebacker Jeremi Powell, a starter on special teams, injured his knee and was on crutches after the game.
Starting safety Jaylen Watkins injured his hand and was wearing an ice pack on it after the game. The extent of his injury is unknown at this time.
Also, quarterback Tyler Murphy said that he did not throw any passes last week in practice until Thursday. He injured his shoulder in the LSU game. He said he did everything in practice earlier in the week but throw.
Gators shuffle offensive line
After the offensive line failed to protect Murphy in the loss to LSU last week, the Gators went with a new starting combination on the offensive front Saturday.
Max Garcia, the starter at left guard, was moved to left tackle, where he replaced the struggling D.J. Humphries, who gave up the last sack in the LSU game. Senior Kyle Koehne started at left guard.
Garcia played left tackle at Maryland and has shown the ability to play both tackle positions since he's been at UF.
The new front did not fare any better than the old one Saturday, which led to a change during the game.
Right tackle Tyler Moore was benched in the second half and replaced by Garcia, with Humphries going back to left tackle.
Regardless of the combination, the Gators once again failed to protect Murphy.
“The offensive line is struggling right now,” Muschamp said. “We're trying to get the right combination and get guys blocked in the run game and the pass game. We're doing everything we can.
“We're shuffling guys around. We've just got to get better.”
Taylor, Townsend shine
A bright spot for the Gators on Saturday was the play of two true freshmen — tailback Kelvin Taylor and punter Johnny Townsend, who was making his first start.
Taylor rushed for 74 yards and scored a touchdown on a 20-yard run in the third quarter.
Townsend, named the starter over 2012 Ray Guy finalist Kyle Christy earlier in the week, averaged 51.5 yards a punt on his first two attempts and 45.6 for the game.
“Kelvin is a natural, instinctive runner. A very talented runner,” Muschamp said. “Johnny has punted well for us all year, he really has.”
The original plan was to redshirt Townsend, but with Christy struggling, Townsend has won the starting job.
Wildcat running in reverse
Despite the season-long failures in the wildcat formation when quarterback Trey Burton carries the ball, the Gators continue to run it.
That decision came back to bite the Gators again Saturday.
On a first down from the Missouri 27 in the final minutes of the first half, Burton lined up at quarterback, faked a handoff and was nailed for a five-yard loss.
Two plays later, on a third-and-11 from the 28, Murphy was sacked and lost a fumble to kill a big opportunity for an offense that struggled for the entire first half.
And it came only minutes after Poole's interception and return to the 50 had given the Gators momentum for the first time in the half.
In the third quarter, the Gators did have success out of the formation when Burton handed the ball off to Taylor, who ran 20 yards for a touchdown.
This and that
The Tigers came into Saturday's game averaging 46.0 points a game against SEC opponents, both on the road (Vanderbilt and Georgia). In four league road games last season, Mizzou averaged only 24.3 points a game. … Missouri has now forced at least one turnover in 37 consecutive games, the longest current streak in the BCS. … Muschamp was 2-0 against the Tigers when he was the defensive coordinator at Texas (2008-10). Muschamp's UT defense gave up only seven points in a 41-7 victory in 2009. … Missouri wide receivers coach Pat Washington held the same title at Kentucky last season, where he worked under head coach Joker Phillips, who is now the Gators' wide receivers coach. Washington and UF defensive backs coach Travaris Robinson were on the same Southern Miss coaching staff in 2009. … Solomon Patton's 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to open the second half gave Florida nine-consecutive years with either a kickoff or punt return for a touchdown. … UF's streak of 13-consecutive SEC games allowing 20 points or fewer came to an end. The stretch had started after the Gators' 26-21 win over Vanderbilt on Nov. 5, 2011. ... Missouri totaled 500 yards of offense, the most surrendered by UF in an SEC game since Kentucky had 512 yards on Oct. 20, 2007.