Former Gators QB signee Jaden Rashada lands at Arizona State

Five things to know about Florida-Missouri game

Robbie Andreu
Gator Sports
Quarterback Kyle Trask leads the Florida Gators.

Missouri (2-2) vs. No. 9 Florida (2-1)

TV: 7:30 p.m. today on SEC Network alternate (Cox – Channel 69 Gainesville/Alachua County). Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850. Favorite: Gators by 13.5.

1. After the long layoff, some unknowns

 Dan Mullen and the Gators have taken the approach that this is like coming out of a bye week. But the reality is last week and the week before were nothing like bye weeks, other than there were no games. The Gators could not practice for those two weeks and now it’s right back into game mode after so much time off. The layoff might have been good for the defense, which is still struggling to work things out. But it might have been bad for an offense that was humming right along through those first three games. The bottom line is the Gators won’t find out how the layoff has affected them until they start playing Saturday night.

Pregame updates:Gators will be without multiple starters vs. Missouri

2. Potential defensive nightmare?

 Indications are there will be changes on the staggering UF defense. If there aren’t, at least in terms of play, the Gators could be in for a long, long night. This is a defense that has been gutted on the ground at times and susceptible to big plays in the passing game at other times. And Missouri’s offense has shown it can be lethal in both of those phases. The Tigers grounded out a 20-10 win over Kentucky last week in a game where they held the ball so long that the Wildcats ran only 36 offensive plays. Two weeks before that, they beat LSU 45-41 in an aerial shootout. So, if you’re defensive coordinator Todd Grantham, where do you start this week’s game plan?

3. Offense facing its toughest test to date

 While the Florida defense has been shredded in all three games this season, the Gator offense has been doing some considerable shredding of its own to opposing defenses. From the offense’s standpoint, the idea is to keep that going after a long layoff against the best defense the Gators have faced this season. The Tigers are fifth in the SEC in total defense and coming off a dominant performance in a 20-10 win over Kentucky last Saturday. If Kyle Trask and the offense get off to a sluggish start, which would be understandable given all the time off, the Missouri defense would gain early confidence that could cause problems for the rest of the night. It’s certainly something to pay attention to in the early moments of this game.

4. Saturday's game questions

•Kentucky ran only 36 offensive plays in a 20-10 loss to Missouri last Saturday. Will the Tigers be able to control the game and the clock with similar keep-away?

•Will the Florida defense show some improvement, or will it be more of the same from this struggling unit?

•Will a stout Missouri defense have an answer for the Kyle-to-Kyle connection of Kyle Trask and Kyle Pitts?

•Can the Gators create some takeaways?

•Will UF’s running game get stuffed? Or will it produce?

Click back Sunday for Andreu’s answers

Andreu’s pick: Florida 31, Missouri 28

(Record: 2-1)

5. Key matchup

Florida run defense vs. Missouri running backs Larry Rountree III and Tyler Badie:  

The way the UF defensive front got gutted in the ground game in the loss to Texas A&M, the Tigers are going to come into this game thinking they can establish a consistent running game that will take pressure off redshirt freshman quarterback Connor Bazelak and allow the Missouri offense to control the ball and the clock — and keep the potent UF offense on the sideline for a large portion of the game. The Tigers have the backs to get it done. Rountree and Badie are proven and explosive runners who have inflicted some damage on the Gators in the past. What could help the UF front is the expected return of starting tackle Kyree Campbell, who missed the first three games for unspecified reasons. He could free up junior Zachary Carter to move back outside to end, which appears to be his more natural position. The big guys up front will have to control their gaps and give the linebackers a chance to make stops. If the Gators can't limit the Tigers on the ground, it’s going to be a long night for the defense — and a short one for the UF offense.