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 9:
1. Coming off the disappointing loss to Georgia, will the Gators come out flat and get off to a slow start?
It was a bad early sign when the Gators had to settle for a 32-yard field goal on their second possession after starting on the Missouri 31 following a short punt and a 15-yard illegal batting penalty. Things only got worse from there. The players came out flat, the late-arriving crowd came out flat — and the Gators got flattened. Wide receiver Josh Hammond said after the game that some players approached this contest like it was going to be an easy win. How in the world do you do that against a team that kicked your butt the year before 45-16?
2. Can the Gators establish a running game against a Missouri defense that is giving up just 126.5 rushing yards a game?
The Gators got manhandled up front, so no, they had no chance to establish a consistent ground game. UF had only two runs of 10 yards or longer (15 by Jordan Scarlett and 12 by Kadarius Toney) and finished the game with just 113 yards rushing. The line had been showing steady improvement over the course of the season, but took a big step back with this poor performance.
3. Will Missouri quarterback Drew Lock pick apart the depth-shy UF secondary?
UF coach Dan Mullen said after the game that the short-handed secondary has gotten worn down in recent games playing so many plays. The reality is, Lock simply wore the Gators out in the back end. He had time to throw and his receivers were consistently getting separation from the defensive backs, making it a simple game of pitch-and-catch for the Tigers.
4. The Missouri offensive line is giving up just 1.25 sacks a game. Can the Gators put some pressure on Lock?
Just like a year ago, Lock had all the time he needed to find wide-open receivers for explosive plays. Florida’s pass rush has disappeared in these back-to-back losses to Georgia and Missouri. Lock never even got touched in the pocket. He was sacked once, but that came when he was chased out of bounds two yards shy of the line of scrimmage by Chauncey Gardner-Johnson early in the third quarter.
5. Can the UF defensive front shut down the Tigers’ running game like Kentucky did a week ago?
Not even close. The undersized defensive line got pushed back and pushed around for most of the game. Instead of stuffing the run, the Gators got gutted on the ground, giving up 114 yards rushing to Damarea Crockett and 221 overall. The Tigers averaged 5.3 yards a rush, a losing number for sure for the UF defense.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or email@example.com. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.
Who: South Carolina (5-3, 4-3 SEC) vs. No. 19 Florida (6-3, 4-3)
When: 12 p.m. Saturday
Where: Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850