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:
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.