“Our guys are suffering. They want to win,” said Coach Pinkel. “We battled. And, we had our opportunities.”
It was a physical, hard-fought contest in which Missouri clearly played their best game of the season. The Missouri defense was outstanding, holding Florida to just 276 yards of total offense. The Tigers moved the football, and outgained the Gators by 59 yards, but James Franklin, who finished the day 24-51-4 for 236 yards passing, threw 4 interceptions to extinguish Missouri’s scoring chances.
“His timing is off. He hasn’t practiced as much of late,” explained Coach Pinkel, speaking of his junior QB, who appeared to be unable to plant on his injured left knee, which caused many of his passes to sail high over their intended targets.
After a scoreless first quarter, Florida took over at the Missouri 19-yard line, following Franklin’s first interception. But, the Missouri defense pushed the Gators backwards, thanks to a great tackle-for-loss on first down by Sheldon Richardson. Then on fourth down, Richardson blocked the Gators’ field goal attempt.
A few minutes later, E.J.Gaines recovered a Florida fumble at the Gators’ 27-yard line. Six plays later, Kendial Lawrence found the end zone to put Missouri ahead 7-0.
Midway through the third quarter, Florida tied the score on a 36-yard speed sweep by WR Omarius Hines.
Meanwhile, Missouri had the football in Florida territory six times in the second half, but failed to score, as Franklin threw three second-half interceptions, and Florida blocked a Missouri field goal attempt.
It appeared to me that Franklin suffered from more than a lack of practice. He appeared to be unable to plant hard against, and torque over, his front (injured) leg, which left him unable to follow through in his normal throwing motion.
Maybe being rusty accounted for Franklin's sub-par performance, and I'm sure that some of it is from having been unable to practice for almost a month, but to me, Franklin appeared to be hindered by injuries from which he is not yet fully recovered.
Starting right tackle Justin Britt was replaced in the first half by Anthony Gatti. After the game, Coach Pinkel suggested that Britt may be lost for the season. Later in the game, Mitch Morse moved out to right tackle, and Brad McNulty played center for Missouri.
Missouri was unable to sustain much of a ground attack, as the Tigers ended up with just 99 yards rushing on 35 carries, 29 yards of which was gained by Franklin.
Dorial Green-Beckham appeared to have his best game of the season, as he had 6 receptions for 73 yards.
On the defensive side of the football, Richardson and Kony Ealy both turned in outstanding performances. The Missouri defense played well as a whole, except for the two scoring plays, and overall the Tigers did a good job of tackling.
But at the end of the day, it wasn’t enough, as the Tigers fell to 4-5 on the season.