Kim Klement / USA TODAY Sports

NIghtmarish big win for Florida over Mizzou

Fortunately, for 14th-ranked Florida (5-1, 3-1 SEC) ugly wins count the same as the pretty ones.

Normal 0 false false false EN-US JA X-NONE There was nothing pretty or even stylish about the Gators’ 40-14 win over the Missouri Tigers Saturday afternoon at Steve Spurrier Florida Field but winning was the only thing that mattered, particularly since Florida now finds itself in sole possession of first place in the SEC East Division. With Tennessee (5-2, 2-2 SEC) going down for the second straight week (49-10 to Alabama) the Gators have a one-game lead over the Vols and a two-game lead over Georgia (4-3, 2-3 SEC), a shocking, 17-16, loser to Vanderbilt.

The Gators should have scored at least four more touchdowns plus they turned the ball over four times and were gouged in the running game in the second half. Luke Del Rio threw three picks and underthrew passes that should have resulted in three other TDs. Middle linebacker Jarrad Davis left the field in the third quarter with an injury and didn’t return.

Yet, in spite of all those negatives, Florida didn’t just win, but won by 26 points. It’s an impressive outcome even if it will look nightmarish when it’s broken down in the film room.

“What the heck, we won a game in The Swamp and it doesn’t get any better than that,” Florida coach Jim McElwain told the SEC Network on his way off the field. And he’s right. It was a win. That’s the only thing that matters.

Florida put up 523 offensive yards – 287 on the ground and 236 through the air – but there is no question those numbers would have been better if not for 8 false start penalties, the 3 interceptions and as a fumble at the Missouri 1. There was a missed 32-yard chipshot field goal. Florida’s receivers spent a good portion of the day blowing by the Missouri secondary but Del Rio kept underthrowing.

Defensively, the Gators scored two touchdowns on interception returns by Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson and held Missouri without a first down until less than three minutes remained in the first half. That was the good part. The bad part was Missouri finished the game with 363 yards, 271 gained in the second half, and 265 of those yards came on the ground.

Some of Del Rio’s problems can be attributed to shaking off the rust and perhaps playing a bit tentative since he was coming back from a knee injury suffered in game three against North Texas. He played like a quarterback who hadn’t seen the field lately but did enough good things to keep the ball moving. 

Nothing really explains all the false starts that kept derailing promising drives. This was the sixth game in the seventh week of the college football season so there is no way to sugarcoat it. Spin it as they might, there is absolutely no way to excuse 8 false starts.

Yet in spite of all these negatives, the Gators did win the football game and there were some impressive efforts. There were two 100-yard rushers (Lamical Perine 11-106; Jordan Scarlett (12-101).  Freshman Tyrie Cleveland finally got involved in the passing game, catching 3 passes for 79 yards including a 20-yarder for his first career touchdown. Early on, when the defense was focused, Missouri couldn’t run the ball nor could Drew Lock (4-18, 39 yards) find any open receivers. Jalen Tabor and Quincy Wilson intercepted passes on back-to-back Missouri possessions and ran the picks back for TDs.

All the mistakes will be highlighted in the film room this week and with an open date before the October 29 Georgia game in Jacksonville, the Gators will have more than adequate time to make corrections.

For now, however, it’s only important to note that Florida won the game, took over first place in the SEC East and has control of its own destiny in the race to win the division championship for a second straight year.

THE GOOD

1. On Florida’s first offensive drive, Luke Del Rio hung in the pocket against strong pressure on third and 9, unloading a wobbly but catchable deep ball that Tyrie Cleveland ran down for a 46-yard completion to the Missouri 29.

2. On Missouri’s second offensive possession, J’Mon Moore ran a slant route just past the first down marker on third and 6, but Quincy Wilson got just enough of the football to deflect it off Moore’s chest, forcing Missouri to punt the ball away. 

3. On a bubble screen from Luke Del Rio to Antonio Callaway that turned into a 10-yard gain for a first down on Florida’s second offensive possession, freshman right tackle Jawaan Taylor got out in front of the play to wipe out the Missouri safety to spring Callaway.

4. Missouri had four first quarter possessions but went 3-and-out on all four. The Tigers netted 30 offensive yards against the UF defense.

5. After missing a 32-yard field goal in the first quarter, Eddie Pineiro came back with 11:56 remaining in the second quarter to drill a 53-yard field goal that would have been good from 60 to give the Gators a 3-0 lead.

6. Missouri had second and 10 at its own 25 on the Tigers’ sixth possession of the first half. The Tigers tried to run wide, but Jarrad Davis found a seam in the MU O-line and hammered Alex Ross for a 3-yard loss.

7. Following an interception of a Luke Del Rio pass, Florida’s Jalen Tabor returned the favor when he jumped a route and turned it into a 39-yard pick 6 for Florida’s first touchdown of the game with 3:25 left in the first half.

8. Not to be outdone by Tabor, Quincy Wilson got in front of Missouri tight end Sean Culkin to pick off Drew Lock’s pass, then he sped down the sideline 78 yards for Florida’s second pick 6 of the game with 1:14 remaining in the first half.

9. Florida outgained Missouri 253-92 in the first half. The Florida defense forced seven Missouri punts and allowed just three first downs. Missouri finally got a first down with less than 3 minutes to go in the first half.

10. The Gators got their first offensive touchdown of the game with 3:47 to go in the third quarter when a Tyrie Cleveland ran a drag route across the middle that was left uncovered when Mizzou’s safeties went with the outside guys who ran straight to the end zone. Cleveland caught a little dump pass at the 10 and could have walked the final 10 yards for the TD.

11. Jordan Scarlett blew through a big hole on the right side created by Jawaan Taylor and Fred Johnson then turned on the afterburners for a 33-yard TD run with 11:43 to go in the game.

12. When Missouri tried to onside kick after cutting the UF lead to 33-14, Antonio Caldwell ran the ball back 44 yards for a touchdown.

THE BAD

1. Antonio Caldwell committed a false start on first and 10 at the Missouri 17, the second false start of Florida’s first offensive drive.

2. Antonio Caldwell was wide open behind three Missouri defenders in the end zone on Florida’s second offensive drive, but Luke Del Rio’s pass hung up, allowing Aarion Penton to recover and knock away what should have been a 41-yard touchdown pass. 

3. On a third and eight on Florida’s third possession, Luke Del Rio rolled right when the pocket broke down. Tyrie Cleveland was open on the sideline, but Del Rio waited a split second to late to throw the ball, resulting in an incompletion for what would have been a first down at the Missouri 30.

4. With first and 10 at the Mizzou 49, David Sharpe committed Florida’s third false start of the first quarter. On the same drive, a few plays into the second quarter, Sharpe jumped the gun again to throw the drive off schedule. Florida had to settle for a 53-yard field goal by Eddie Pineiro.

5. Caldwell picked up his second false start of the game and Florida’s fifth of the first half in the second quarter when the Gators had first and goal at the Mizzou 5.

6. The sixth false start of the game was charged to right guard Fred Johnson. It came on second and 2 so instead of a perfect down for play action, the Gators were forced off schedule with second and 8.

7. On UF’s first possession of the second half, the Gators went to the wildcat on third and two from the Missouri 46. Lamical Perine never had a chance because the entire right side of the Florida offensive line was caved in. That Perine got even one yard is due to second and third effort.

8. Fred Johnson’s second false start of the game was Florida’s seventh of the game. Instead of third and 3 at the Missouri 15, UF faced third and 8 at the 20.

9. Jawaan Taylor completely whiffed on the speed rush late in the third quarter, allowing Donavin Newsome to get a sack of -5 yards on Luke Del Rio.

10. Jordan Scarlett fumbled the ball at the Missouri 1 late in the fourth quarter. On the ensuing possession, Mizzou drove 99 yards for a touchdown.

THE UGLY

1. Eddie Pineiro missed a 32-yard field goal wide right that could have given the Gators a 3-0 lead with 10:05 to go in the first quarter.

2. Five false starts in a game is ridiculous. Try five in the first half. Florida had to settle for field goals on two drives that should have resulted in touchdowns in large part because false starts threw the drives off schedule.

3. Brandon Powell was deep behind Missouri’s Aarion Penton late in the second quarter but Del Rio once again underthrew a wide open receiver. Missouri’s Aarion Penton had time to close on Powell in time to make the interception.

4. Del Rio not only underthrew wide open receivers in the first half, but he threw his third interception of the game on Florida’s opening possession of the second half.

5. On Florida’s second possession of the second half, Del Rio threw into triple coverage in the end zone. He was fortunate Missouri didn’t come up with its fourth pick because Cam Hilton had the ball in his hands but couldn’t secure the pick.

6. Eight false starts, three by David Sharpe. That’s ridiculous.  

7. Although the Gators had the game well in hand and most of the defenders were second and third teamers, they should have never allowed Missouri to drive the ball 99 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

8. The Gators gave up 265 rushing yards. That’s as ridiculous as the eight false starts.


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