Game Day Headquarters: Gators vs. Mizzou

Focus was the word of the week for these newly top 15 crowned Gators and some success that they haven’t seen in a while. Florida head coach Jim McElwain has pushed his team every week to show up ready and most of the time they have, but there has been a couple of times where they could have had better preparation.

#11 Florida Gators (5-0, 3-0) vs.  Missouri Tigers (4-1, 1-1)

Saturday October 10, 2015; 7:30 P.M.

Columbia, Missouri; Faurot Field

TV: SEC Network

Now with their second road game of the season and an eastern division contest as well, the Gators face their first opponent in the last three games where they are actually the favorite to win the game.

The big thing for this team in the eyes of the public and the media is to come off of the high of the last two big wins against Tennessee and Ole Miss. Can they come down for what some consider a trap game for the Gators?

At the same time, it is hard to imagine this as a trap game given that Missouri has beaten Florida in each of the last two years and has also been the champion of the eastern division for two years running. To be the champ you have to beat the champ, right?

There is also that completely embarrassing and humiliating loss last year that in the minds of a lot of Gators is the worst looking loss in Gator history… plenty of reasons not to overlook the Tigers.

McElwain has pretty confident all week that his team has attacked this game the right way.

“I’m kind of excited about going today’s meetings and today’s practice to see how engaged in the framework of where we are at as far as the team and going into this game,” McElwain said in the SEC’s Coaches’ Teleconference on Wednesday. “They are the two-time defending champ and based on the history I am sure that they have pretty good confidence they will put it on the Gators. It’s one of those deals that based on that history they felt pretty good about us being their Homecoming.”

That last little tidbit certainly didn’t go unnoticed by his team this week. Missouri scheduled Florida for Homecoming this year, albeit Florida did the same a year ago. But, most of the time the Homecoming opponent is usually a game reserved for a certain win.

This certainly makes for a little more drama and pick me up for a team like Florida who you wouldn’t think we need it.

Looking at the game on paper, Florida’s defense looks like it should have a field day. Missouri’s offense is ranked last in the SEC in total offense and 12th in the conference in scoring. Add to that, they have a new quarterback that made his first start last week against South Carolina. True freshman Drew Lock did post a win against South Carolina.

Florida’s defense counters with the fifth best total defense in the conference in the early season and the third best scoring defense.

Missouri head coach Gary Pinkel has been a headache for Florida since the series started a few years ago and McElwian has the utmost respect for him and what he has done to incorporate the new freshman quarterback.

“I think if you look at some of the things when he was in with series previously (before he started), there was obviously a great plan by them,” McElwain said. “I wouldn’t expect anything different from a coach that I tried to learn a ton from when he was at the University of Washington and I was at Eastern Washington and I would get over there to learn how he would do things. That doesn’t surprise me at al. The thing that I like is that they are doing the things he is successful at.”

It is a different ball game on the other side of the ball. Missouri’s defense is tops in the league in scoring defense and also tops in total defense. They lead the league in interceptions with seven.

Florida counters with the 7th rated scoring offense and 10th rated total offense.

McElwain likes what new defensive coordinator Barry Odom has done with his group.

Defensively, what their new defensive coordinator has brought and when you take a look at all 13 games of Memphis last year, you can see how he has added to a great defense and some of the things he has brought with them as well.”

They are just consistent on defense and they give up a paltry 12 points a game.

In special teams, a couple of areas where the Gators may finally get to take advantage of are kickoff returns and coverage. Florida, who hasn’t seemed to be able to do anything with the kickoff return game ranked 9th in the conference while Missouri ranks 13th. Likewise the Gators and Tigers rank the same in kickoff coverage as well… the Gators 9th and Missouri 13th. Maybe the Tigers are what the doctor ordered to get those units going.

Missouri stands at 4-1 overall and 1-1 in the SEC. If you asked any Gator before the season if they would take that record at this stage, they would say yes. The biggest thing for this Missouri team and at this point in time is who they have played to get to this point and how they have looked doing it.

Missouri’s wins were against SE Missouri State (2-3), UConn (2-3), Arkansas State (2-3), and South Carolina (2-3). Their lone loss was to Kentucky (4-1) on the road, and the only team to beat those Wildcats is the Gators, also on the road.

In the end, this writer thinks it comes down to the Gators and them doing the things they need to do and less about Missouri. Florida needs to stay balanced on offense although I believe it will be tough to run on Missouri and the Gators haven’t been able to run well at all this season. The key statistic is to not turn the ball over.

Florida’s defense should be in good shape and I expect 2-3 turnovers in the game even though I believe Missouri will play very conservative on offense.

It will be the coolest game as far as the weather with lows dipping into the 50’s during the game. That isn’t too cold and shouldn’t be an issue. I look for the Gators to go 6-0 and win somewhere around 24-6.

More on the matchup...

Florida's Offensive Two-Deep

WR #11 (JR)Demarcus Robinson (6-1, 208) #5 (JR) Ahmad Fulwood (6-4, 210) 
WR #81 (FR) Antonio Callaway (5-11, 206) #10 (SR) Valdez Showers 
WR #4 (SO) Brandon Powell (5-9, 185) #89 (R-SO) Alvin Bailey (5-11, 189)
LT #78 (SO) David Sharpe (6-6, 359) #73 (FR) Martez Ivey (6-5, 311)
LG #63 (R-SR) Trip Thurman (6-5, 307) #52 (R-FR) Travaris Dorsey (6-2, 321)
OC #54 (R-SO) Cameron Dillard (6-4, 311) #64 (FR) Tyler Jordan (6-4, 294)
RG #51 (R-SO) Antonio Riles (6-4, 312) #77 (R-FR) Andrew Mike (6-6, 302)
RT #75 (R-SR) Mason Halter (6-6, 295) #74 (FR) Fred Johnson (6-6, 312)
TE #83 (R-SR Jake McGee (6-6, 244) #30 (SO) DeAndre Goolsby (6-4, 243)
RB #21 (JR) Kelvin Taylor (5-10, 206) #32 (FR) Jordan Cronkrite (5-11, 205)
QB #7 (R-FR) Will Grier (6-2, 203) #3 (SO) Treon Harris (5-11, 198)

Florida's Defensive Two-Deep

DE #96 (FR) CeCe Jefferson (6-1, 270) #17 (R-SO) Jordan Sherit (6-4, 250)
NT #91 (JR) Joey Ivie (6-3, 290) #93 (R-FR) Taven Bryan (6-3, 290)
DT #90 (JR) Jonathan Bullard (6-3, 280) #57 (R-SO) Caleb Brantley (6-2, 303)
RUSH #94 (R-JR) Bryan Cox (6-3, 265) #14 (R-JR) Alex McCalister 
MLB #3 (SR) Antonio Morrison (6-1, 234) #48 (R-SR) Anthony Harrell (6-2, 237)
WLB #40 (JR) Jarrad Davis (6-2, 232) #13 (JR) Daniel McMillian (6-1, 216)
Saf #42 (JR) Keanu Neal (6-1, 215) #26 (R-SO) Marcell Harris (6-1, 211) 
Saf #20 (R-JR) Marcus Maye (6-0, 210)  #8 (R-SO) Nick Washington (6-0, 189)
NIC #24 (SR) Brian Poole (5-10, 208) #7 (SO) Duke Dawson (5-11, 201)
CB #1 (JR) Vernon Hargreaves (5-11, 200) #15 (R-FR) Deiondre porter (6-0, 178)
CB #6 (SO) Quincy Wilson (6-1, 210) #31 (SO) Jalen Tabor (6-0, 197)

Florida's Special Teams  Two-Deep

K #98 (R-FR) Jorge Powell (5-10, 171) #16 (R-JR) Austin Hardin (5-10, 205)
P  #19 (R-SO) Johnny Townsend (6-1, 200) #16 (R-JR) Austin Hardin (5-10, 205)
KOR #4 (SO) Brandon Powell (5-9, 185) #81 (FR) Antonio Callaway (5-11, 206)
PR #81 (FR) Antonio Callaway (5-11, 206) #4 (SO) Brandon Powell (5-9, 185)
LS #41 (FR) Ryan Farr (6-0, 213) #47 (R-JR) Jonathan Haney (6-2, 210)
H #19 (R-SO) Johnny Townsend (6-1, 200)

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Morrison: "You can't dwell in the past"

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Keanu neal shows huge respect for Antonio Morrison

Gators remember last year's loss to Missouri

Gators offensive confidence growing

Famous Gators return to Gainesville

Breaking down the offense vs Ole Miss

McElwain wants Gators to restore the order

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