Andreu’s Answers: Gators finish SEC schedule strong

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Florida quarterback Kyle Trask looks to pass during the second half Saturday against Missouri in Columbia, Mo. Florida won 23-6. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)

 COLUMBIA, Mo. — Before every Florida game, veteran college football beat writer Robbie Andreu comes up with five pertinent questions and then answers them after the game. Here’s Week 11:

  1. Will quarterback Kyle Trask and the UF passing game struggle against a sound Missouri secondary?

 In one of the toughest tests of the season, Trask and the passing game came through, consistently moving the ball up and down the field. The Gators scored only six points in the first half, but it wasn’t like they had problems moving the ball. What they had problems with was sustaining drives. Four sacks played a major role in that. The offensive line protected Trask better in the second half and he threw two touchdown passes to put the Gators in control of the game. He finished with 282 yards and two touchdowns. Throw in the 48-yard pass from Emory Jones to Kadarius Toney, and the Gators piled up 330 passing yards, one of the most productive games of the season.

2. The Tigers have really hurt the Gators on the ground the past two years. Can the defensive front shut down Larry Rountree, Tyler Badie and make the Tigers one-dimensional on offense?

  The Gators won the line of scrimmage in a big way, taking the running game away from the usually dangerous Rountree and Badie. Those two turned out to be no factor. Rountree rushed for just 30 yards on seven carries and Badie had only two yards on four carries. The Gators held the Tiger to 52 yards rushing and just 1.8 yards a carry. Missouri’s most effective runner was quarterback Kelly Bryant, not on designed QB runs, but scrambling away from the UF pass rush. His ability to make defenders miss in the pocket prevented a half dozen sacks. 

3. Saturday’s game features two of the best tight ends in the SEC, maybe even the nation. Who has a bigger impact? Kyle Pitts? Or Missouri’s Albert Okwuegbunam?

If you go by the numbers, the two were pretty much even. Both had four receptions for less than 40 yards — 38 for Pitts and 26 for Okwuegbunam. The big difference is Pitts had a catch that had a big impact on the game, and Okwuegbunam did not. The reception, of course, was his 25-yarder late in the third quarter that at first appeared to be an interception. But it was ruled a catch by Pitts on the field and a lengthy video review of the play confirmed it. Three plays later, Trask threw a 15-yard touchdown pass to Lamical Perine (another play that was reviewed after first being ruled an incompletion) to give the Gators a 20-6 lead.

4. Can the Gators make something big (and positive) happen on special teams?

 As usual, the kicking aspect of UF’s special teams was excellent. Evan McPherson was three-of-three on field goal attempts and Tommy Townsend averaged 45.8 yards a punt. But, as usual, the Gators did not make anything else happen on special teams. No kickoff returns, just one punt return for zero yards and no blocked kicks or forced turnovers. UF has made special teams a priority under Dan Mullen, but the impact plays just aren’t happening.

5. After losing big to the Tigers the last two seasons, the Gators are hoping to get off to a fast start in this one. Do they make that happen?

The defense was on top of its game from beginning to end, dominating most of the afternoon and holding the Tigers to just six points and 256 total yards. The offense, however, got off to another sleepy start. After ending the first drive of the game with a 47-yard field goal, the Gators had problems sustaining drives the rest of the first half, mainly thanks to four sacks. But the offense came alive in the decisive third quarter, with Trask throwing two touchdown passes to put the Gators in control, 20-6. 

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or robbie.andreu@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.

10 COMMENTS

  1. The Gators this year, at various times, have lacked a sense of urgency. They have been methodical, which I believe is a hallmark of a good team, but sometimes they have seemed to be lacking the quiet sense of urgency to pair with it. A great team almost always has both methodical play and sense of urgency. Methodical in this case meaning that certain, quiet confidence that one can almost palpate.

    Sense of urgency is not panic by any stretch of the imagination, tho some take it to mean that. I think part of the explanation for these maddeningly “slow starts” we’ve witnessed lies in the realm of mindset, in that at the start of the game there seems almost forever on the clock. For some teams, at least some of the time, that leads to being seduced into thinking that they really have forever to score. At it’s worst outcome, the other team builds up some sort of lead and before you know it, “forever” has come and gone. At the best case, there’s a recovery in the nick of time. Florida only lost to two playoff teams this year — the first because we simply could not sustain swapping 1 for 1 touchdowns for 60 straight minutes with a better team, but we sure did for at least half that game. The second was to a team that we had better parity with, but damned if sense of urgency didn’t bite us in the ass and “nick of time” was a little late.

    Given that this is Year Two, I’ll sure as hell take it. We’re getting there, one game at a time, one season at a time. If we put an 11-2 year together with last year’s 10-3, considering that we went 4-7 the year prior to that, I think we’ll be knocking on the door next year. Of course that 11-2 could become 9-4 in a heartbeat if we don’t find and maintain our sense of urgency.

      • Ha! There’s some truth to that notion, for sure……the guy commanding the same type unit down the street actually had a speech writer. I’m sure that’s how he always came up with such gems as, “Men, I’ve written a check for this battalion, and we’re going to cash it together”. Whatever the hell that means. My speeches, on the other hand, were usually confined to the motor pool or formations, and often included such elegant phrases as, “Now get back to work you rat bastards”. Funny thing is, he’s now a retired Major General and I always had a better chance of becoming a nun than that right up to the day I dropped my papers. Well, at least I fooled ’em for 32 years, always PCSing before anybody ever discovered some village had lost their idiot and he was I. 😎

    • Well, 6, let me commend you for an excellent post, as well. Your point about urgency is spot on. I believe Auburn’s comeback against GA is vindication for those of us who expressed concern for the Gator’s lack of urgency on the last drive against UGA.

      The Gators got the ball with about 10 minutes left, trailing by two TD’s. They took nearly 7 minutes to score and never got the ball back. Auburn got the ball with about 10 minutes left, also trailing by two TD’s. In contrast, Auburn scored in about 3 minutes and got the ball back twice! Of course, the Tigers failed to capitalize on those opportunities, but they gave themselves a chance that the Gators didn’t.

    • Best post of the season, 6. Your point translates well to real life, a lesson that some people never learn. I would add that the pace on Offense is set by the play calling, and Coach Mullen is going to continue to grow our player’s confidence until we have a championship caliber team.

  2. Driving to one of my Granddaughter’s six year old birthday party, I was listening to the XM SEC Radio call by Mick and Lee McGriff. During most of our aborted first half drives, Lee kept mentioning how one of or OL tackles was getting shoved around (he may have mentioned more than one). Lee purposely wouldn’t mention names. This is Dan’s primary path to Championships: recruit some “bad ass OL” like we have on the D Line.

    Dan Mullin and STAFF (very important) have done more with what they inhered than anybody could have expected. Next, he must maintain this staff and recruit his own star QB and key players. This year’s Offense is almost there.

    • I think Coach Hevesy will get it done. On pass plays, the Tackles are reaching instead of moving their feet. When we try to run the ball, the entire line are trying to hit instead of engaging and driving with their legs. In both cases, that’s why you see so many whiffs. The exception has been Nick Buchanan, and the QB sneak has worked for Trask. All lineman “…need to get plumb mad-dog mean, cause if you lose your head and you give up then you neither live nor win. That’s just the way it is.”(Josey Wales)