Today's storylines: UF vs. MU
Published: Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 19, 2013 at 1:14 a.m.
Gators gone soft — again?
After getting physically pushed around by Florida State in the final game of 2011, Will Muschamp called his team out for being soft and challenged the players to get tougher and stronger in the offseason. The Gators did, and it showed up time and again in the fourth quarter last season. But, a year later, have the Gators gone soft again? It sure appeared that way in the second half of the LSU game, when the Tigers ran the ball down their throats in the second half and overwhelmed the UF offensive front with a strong pass rush. “We weren't physical enough up front,” offensive coordinator Brent Pease said. “It was kind of the same scenario from last year (when UF wore down LSU), but reversed in that they had an intent to do what we did last year, and they won that battle.” Back to the weight room for the Gators.
Getting to know Maty Mauk
Losing senior quarterback James Franklin is a blow to the Tigers, but they think they can overcome it because of the guy who is stepping in, redshirt freshman Maty Mauk. Mauk was a high school phenom in Kenton, Ohio, setting national records for passing yards (18,932), touchdowns (219), completions (1,353) and total offense (22,681). He was the high school version of Johnny Football. He definitely put up Manziel numbers in his senior year, throwing for 5,413 yards, rushing for 1,768 yards and accounting for a remarkable 92 touchdowns (68 passing, 24 rushing). Florida was the first team to face Manziel last season. Now, the Gators will help break in another high school legend who just may have the ability and upside to grow into a college legend.
Green-Beckham coming on
Missouri wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, the No. 1 prospect in the nation coming out of high school a year ago, appears to be blossoming into a potential star in his second season. Only six games into the 2013 season, Green-Beckham has pretty much already matched his production from last year. He's caught 27 passes for 399 yards and four touchdowns after catching 28 passes for 395 yards and five TDs in 11 games as a true freshman. Green-Beckham is a big (6-foot-6, 225 pounds), fast, athletic receiver who is a potential nightmare matchup in man-to-man coverage against cornerbacks who are much smaller than him, including UF's corners.
Hang onto that ball
Just like a year ago, the Gators realize their best chance of winning is taking care of the football. When they've turned the ball over multiple times in the past two seasons, they've lost. UF will be focused on ball security again today, but watch out for the Tigers. They have caused at least one turnover in 36 consecutive games, the longest active streak in the BCS.
After having a career game against Arkansas on Oct. 5 with 124 receiving yards and two touchdowns, Solomon Patton was bottled up by LSU's secondary, catching just three passes for 32 yards. Used mainly on speed sweeps a year ago, Patton has become the Gators' biggest threat at receiver this season, totaling 380 yards and four touchdowns. The Gators need to involve the senior today in order to beat the Tigers.
The Gators are no stranger to Columbia, S.C., but Columbia, Mo., is a different story. The Florida football team has never played Missouri at Faurot Field. The Gators have only played these Tigers twice, once in a Sugar Bowl loss in 1966 and in a win in Gainesville last season. The Tigers play on synthetic grass (FieldTurf) and the stadium was expanded from 68,349 seats to 71,004 in 2009.
The road to Atlanta for the Gators is simple: Win the next four games, and they play for an SEC title. Florida plays four consecutive SEC East opponents (at Missouri, Georgia in Jacksonville, Vanderbilt, at South Carolina) in the next five weeks. Florida and Missouri are the only teams that control their own destiny in the East, and one will be needing some help to win it after today.
Best foot forward?
Change has been the only constant with Florida's specialists this season. After weeks of inconsistency at placekicker, Will Muschamp shook things up against LSU by starting Frankie Velez over Austin Hardin. This week, Muschamp says Velez will kick field goals inside 46 yards and Hardin for field goals outside that. The Gators also haven't found consistency at punter, where 2012 All-American Kyle Christy will be replaced this week by freshman Johnny Townsend.