Florida-Missouri pregame notebook: The Kyles Heisman hype

Special to Gatorsports.com

Before the two-week COVID-19 outbreak shutdown, quarterback Kyle Trask and tight end Kyle Pitts were ripping up Southeastern Conference defenses for the 9th-ranked Gators (2-1). Trask has thrown 14 touchdowns, half to Pitts.

The Gators (2-1) get back in action in The Swamp against Missouri (2-2) at 7:30 p.m. today (SEC Network Alternate). The Tigers have been surprisingly potent. Trask and Pitts will need to get reconnected and if they do they can both start getting some Heisman Trophy hype.

WHAT’S AT STAKE?

UF had more than 30 players and coaches tested positive for the coronavirus — about 75 were quarantined — following a trip to Texas A&M. The SEC postponed two of Florida’s games. Now, the Gators are entering a seven-week SEC gauntlet, with the first two (Missouri and No. 5 Georgia) likely deciding their fate in the East Division.

KEY MATCHUP

Florida versus COVID. The Gators expect to be rested and rusty following a two-week layoff. They also could be without several starters because six players tested positive since the outbreak. More could be quarantined because of contact tracing, so it’s unclear who will be available.

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Missouri: Running back Larry Rountree III is coming off a 37-carry, 126-yard, two-touchdown performance against Kentucky. The Gators have had trouble stopping the run, but stout defensive tackle Kyree Campbell is expected to make his season debut Saturday and could help shore up the weakness.

Florida: Pitts is one of the best players in the country and should be ready to go after dealing with a left ankle injury last time out. Pitts finished with five catches for 47 yards and a touchdown — all season lows — in a 41-38 loss at Texas A&M. None off his receptions came in the final 10 minutes of the game.

FACTS & FIGURES

Missouri QB Connor Bazelak is 3-0 as a starter, completing 78% of his passes for 687 yards, four touchdowns and no interceptions. He could catch a break with about 17,000 fans on hand for Florida's home games. … The Gators are 3-1 following a loss under coach Dan Mullen. … Florida’s 127 points are its most in any three-game stretch in SEC play since 2008, when it totaled 129 in win against Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Alabama. … The Gators have split eight games against Missouri since the Tigers joined the SEC in 2012, going 2-2 at home and on the road. Missouri leads the all-time series 5-4.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.