In a game that had some Florida football fans thinking back to the days of Ron Zook, the No. 22 Florida Gators (4-3, 3-2 SEC) suffered their second straight loss Saturday, a 36-17 defeat at the hands of the No. 14 Missouri Tigers (7-0, 3-0 SEC).
Florida entered the game with hopes of regaining control of the SEC East, but those hopes were quickly forgotten as Missouri dominated the Gators on both sides of the ball. The Tigers totaled 500 yards of offense compared to just 151 (not a misprint) for the Gators.
With redshirt freshman Maty Mauk making his first career start for Missouri in place of the injured James Franklin, the Gators were thought to have an advantage defensively. However, Mauk threw for 295 yards and one touchdown, and added a 17-yard touchdown run to put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter.
Missouri dominated Florida’s defense on the ground as well, totaling 205 yards rushing, including 136 yards from running back Henry Josey. The Gators were without linebacker Ronald Powell and nose tackle Damien Jacobs, which certainly didn’t help matters, but with each passing week it becomes more and more clear how much this defense misses Dominique Easley.
Florida’s offense was equally, if not more pathetic than the defense. For the second straight week the offensive line play was atrocious. Florida quarterback Tyler Murphy was sacked six times on the day, and while the stat sheet may have shown six sacks, from watching the game it seemed like a whole lot more, as Murphy was under duress every time he dropped back.
Yet again the lone bright spot for the Gators was the play of freshman running back Kelvin Taylor. He finished with 12 carries for 74 yards, both career highs, and scored his first career rushing touchdown. If there is anything good to come out of this game for the Gators, it looks like they may have finally found their running back.
With the loss, Florida’s SEC Championship game hopes are all but dashed, as Missouri has now opened up a two-game lead in the East Division. Injuries have clearly played a part in Florida’s struggles of late, but right now frustrations are high, especially when one considers the expectations entering this season.
Florida will have a bye next week, before heading to Jacksonville to take on the Georgia Bulldogs on Nov. 2.