Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports

Gators trying to stay focused on the big game ahead

While the media keeps conjuring up questions and anecdotes about the Florida-LSU game that wasn’t, the Gators have to play this Saturday against a Missouri team with an offense that can scare you. Florida will counter with a good defense of its own, but the big thing here is to get ready for Missouri.

Florida head coach Jim McElwain talked with the media via teleconference on Wednesday and said his players are ready to play a game.

“I know our guys are real excited to get after it and obviously it’s Homecoming week, that’s awful special,” he said. “Having our 2006 national championship team back, and what they were able to accomplish. I think it will great for our alumni and fans. And being dialed in and getting ready for a Missouri team that their explosive (plays) really jump off the film, and we’ve got to be on it both offensively and defensively this week. Looking forward to getting back and playing.”

With all of the dialogue on the airwaves and the Internet about the missed LSU game this past weekend, McElwain has made it a point to make sure his guys are focused on the other Tigers that travel to Gainesville on Saturday.

"It's one of the things we try to do,” he said about making sure they don’t let the distraction of not having the last game interfere. “It's human nature, people asking them about it and yet the focus has got to be 'Look, this is homecoming and this is Missouri.' It's the next game. Look guys, we can't worry about anything but taking care of the now for our fans, for the people coming to Gainesville this weekend and I think for the most part, our guys have done a pretty darn good job. Like you said, things are going to get brought up and this and that, and yet I think they've had a pretty good attention to detail so far. We'll see on Saturday."

“We talked about it from the standpoint of, you worry a lot about and this is a problem in whatever it is, the things that are out of your control, you worry about it and it eats away about the things that are important. And in this case, the important thing is preparing and getting ready for Missouri."

No issues for Del Rio…

McElwain will have his starting quarterback return Saturday after a solid couple of outings for Austin Appleby. Luke Del Rio will start Saturday and should show no signs of the knee injury he had four weeks prior.

"He was ready last week and obviously the swelling comes and goes, but that's normal with a lot of those injuries,” McElwain said. “He'll be ready to go and I know he's excited to get out there. Austin has had a good week as well as far as preparation goes, but we're going to move forward with Luke and see how he handles it. His recovery off of each practice has been a little better every day and that's a good thing."

McElwain knows that Del Rio is overly excited to be back, but thinks his sophomore signal caller will keep everything in check and not get to wound up about it.

"He is a competitive son of a gun,” McElwain said. “He did a really good job of not feeling sorry for himself when he was hurt but rather taking that opportunity to dive more into it. His want and just understanding of just take what they're giving you, when the shot's there go ahead and do it, I know he's going to be really juiced up and excited to get back on the field."

“I thought he did a really good job of taking the team and he's ready to play as well,” McElwain said of Appleby. “He did a great job of preparation and he's got a great understanding. Believe me, I'm really happy he's here and he's had a good week too. They're splitting the reps in the practice and that type of stuff. He's mentally ready and he'll be ready to go at the drop of a hat."

Missouri’s explosive offense…

The Tigers will enter The Swamp with an offense that can score on any play from scrimmage. They are fourth in the SEC in scoring at 37 points per game, second at 508 yards per game, and first in passing offense at 350.6 yards per game. The Gator defense is going to have to maintain throughout the game.

“Philosophically they’re just waiting for that one time, two times, three times, whatever it is, where you fall asleep a little bit,” McElwain said. “I look at it as a great opportunity for our secondary guys, who you know what they’re pretty darn good, and yet this is a chance for them to go show they can stay focused, they can communicate throughout the game. The speed and pace of the game they play, as well. This will be a great opportunity for these guys to go out and show who they are.”

The defense is going to have to counter the fast paced offense that Missouri likes to bring to the table with some scheming of their own. Quarterback Drew Lock gets the ball out fast to his receivers making things really tough.

"One of the things you've got to do is take into account obviously is the pace they play at,” he said. “You can't just give them a look that they know they can just go get. Try to put a little bit of indecision into Lock's hands as far as exactly what he's getting. You know, the biggest thing is being able to play the ball in the air. It's impressive the shots that they're taking and the production that they're getting is huge.

For us, it's going to be that discipline piece and making sure you never lose your eyes. He's getting rid of the ball really quick and their line is doing a really good job of not giving any kind of penetration up front. That's the big key I think is a) giving him different looks and when there is a piece of indecision, don't allow him to get his feet set. That's something we've got to make sure we try to do."

Lock leads the SEC in passing with a 335 yards per game average. He is a player that McElwain has known about for a while.

“I’ll say this, I actually watched him in high school when I first got here,” McElwain said. “He obviously was committed there, but man he’s talented, gets the ball out quick, he’s got a very accurate and strong arm. What I see from him this year is a great understanding of where he’s going with it, immediately and I think that’s a testament not only to their offensive line for the few sacks they’ve given up but his ability to know and react and get the ball out really frustrates pass rushers, and I think that him knowing exactly what (OC) Josh (Heupel) wants him to do and him executing it. This guy’s really a good player and has a long career ahead of him.


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