Offense ‘abysmal’ in blowout loss

The Gators trailed for 59:49 on Saturday in The Swamp, but even if the game was closer, the offense never showed that it could make a run to keep Florida in the game.

Florida totaled 283 yards of offense, but 217 of those came in the second half when Missouri’s defense wasn’t playing as tight in coverage. The Gators went into halftime with 66 total yards despite playing both quarterbacks. Jeff Driskel and Treon Harris both struggled to move the offense.

The offensive line, which has played well up until the Missouri game, allowed six sacks. Missouri defensive end Shane Ray, who led the country in tackles for a loss coming into Saturday, recorded two of the sacks while six different players recorded at least half of one sack for the Tigers.

“We’ve been protecting ourselves a lot offensively because we’ve had to,” Will Muschamp said. “That’s just calling it like it is. We’ve put ourselves in a situation now that’s not good for that type of (throwing) game.”

Despite Driskel’s struggles, Florida stuck with him for four of its six series in the first half. He ended the game 7-19 for 50 yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions. He also fumbled twice.

“Jeff’s a tough kid and has been through tough times before,” Driskel said. “We’ll go back and figure out how to restore our confidence, not in just Jeff, but our entire offense right now. It’s not very good.”

Treon Harris ran two of the series in the first half before taking over after Driskel had the wind knocked out of him late in the first half. Harris ran the offense for most of the second half, finishing 8-12 for 98 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He added 26 yards on the ground and one rushing touchdown.

The playbook was noticeably more limited when Harris was in during the first half.

“He did some nice things, but we’re a little limited in the throwing game as far as changing protections,” Muschamp said. “Typical freshman quarterback things. When they show an overload, you’d like to change a protection to the other side. There’s things he hasn’t been exposed to that much in the drop back passing game.

“That’s why we started the second half with Jeff. We felt like we were going to have to start throwing the ball more to create plays for us. They were playing tight with their safeties, so we tried to get them off us a little bit. Jeff is further along with those things.”

The offensive line’s issues limited Florida’s ability to throw the ball deep. When it was blocked properly, Driskel was rarely on target and limited what the Gators can do downfield in the passing game. Demarcus Robinson ended the game with four catches for 48 yards, leading the team in both categories.

The Gators tried to get Robinson involved down the field, but both quarterbacks were unable to complete it.

“I know we all want to drop back and throw it, but there’s a reason why we can’t,” Muschamp said. “You saw it tonight. When we got in the drop back game, we struggled tremendously to protect, to hold the edges. We have got to be able to protect the quarterback and protect that position.”

Florida now heads into a bye week with more things to work on than time allotted to practice in the two weeks before facing Georgia. Florida offensive coordinator Kurt Roper and his staff will have to decide which quarterback gives the group the best chance of win and what packages best fit that quarterback.

“Offensively, just abysmal,” Muschamp said. “We didn’t have any rhythm. We’ve got to figure out what we can do to move the football. But six turnovers? That’s hard to overcome.

“We’ve just got to narrow it down to some things we do well, which right now, it’s not much.”

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