COLUMBIA, MO — The No. 11 Florida Gators are undefeated, bowl-eligible, and in the driver’s seat in the SEC after an impressive defensive performance in a 21-3 win on the road against Missouri. Jim McElwain is the first coach to win his first six games at the University of Florida since Galen Hall in 1984.
Beating the back-to-back SEC East Champions, coupled with a Georgia loss to Tennessee has given Florida a two game advantage over every team in the SEC and Florida is the master of their own destiny with the opportunity to bring a division title home to Gainesville for the first time since 2009.
How about that?
The Florida Gators who were 11-13 over the past two seasons are 6-0 and are the only team in the SEC East that controls their own fate.
“It’s been a pretty long stretch here and it’s been a pretty emotional stretch, just kind of how we’ve been playing,” Jim McElwain said after the win. “We needed to win a game like that. We didn’t play great. In fact, we played not very good offensively, obviously. But we had our defense step up when it needed to and gave us a kick start.
The Gators played great defensively, but the offense struggled to string anything together. Will Grier played good, not great, certainly not up to the level he played at against Ole Miss but that should be expected; he’s a redshirt freshman who just made the fifth start of his career on Saturday night. The Gators once again played three true freshmen on the offensive line and counted on Antonio Callaway and Jordan Cronkrite as well.
“It’s disappointing because I thought we were heading in the right direction,” said McElwain. “And after the first couple drives, I was like ‘OK. We’re kind of hitting it.’ And then all of a sudden, we hit a quick lull.”
The offense may have sputtered, but junior running back Kelvin Taylor did not. Taylor ran hard and with a ferocity not seen before from him, gaining 99 yards on 28 carries, scoring twice (the second touchdown of the night was his seventh of the season, surpassing his total of six from a season ago). It’s been a long time coming for the junior, but it’s Taylor time in Gainesville and Kelvin is making the most of the opportunities he’s being given and giving credit to his new position coach Tim Skipper.
“He’s made a really big difference,” Taylor said of Skipper, who has gotten more out of Taylor in eight months and the previous staff managed in two years. “Man he motivates you and practices you hard every day in practice. You never get satisfied with him and it shows on game days. Coach Skip he’s a great guy and a great coach.”
Give credit to Missouri’s defense. The Tigers held Florida to just 4.4 yards per play, their second lowest output of the season.
Despite the struggles on offense, the fact remains the same. The Florida Gators are 6-0, they didn’t win their sixth game last year until November 22.
Florida is playing good, hard, competitive football. The offense is a work n progress but they’re fun to watch and the defense may very well be what they told us they would be all along — the best in the country.
“Here’s the good thing: We could be as good as we want to be, but we’ve got to be good on Monday in order for it to happen,” McElwain said. “We’ve got to be great on Tuesday and as we keep going, I’m excited that they should get their bellies rubbed. They deserve it.”