Florida’s 36-17 loss to the Missouri Tigers featured a Florida offense that was inept at best for most of the game, especially in the first half when it totaled only 62 yards. Although the effort was poor overall, the Gators were really done in by three big plays.
Play No.1: Quarterback Maty Mauk’s 41-yard completion to wide receiver L’Damian Washington.
This was the first offensive play of the game, and it was an omen of a strange day ahead for Florida’s defense. With a freshman quarterback making his first career start, conventional wisdom would lead you to believe that Missouri would be a bit conservative right out of the gate, easing Mauk into the game. Not today. The big play was a punch to the mouth of Florida defense that has repeatedly started slow this season.
Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves misjudged the ball, leaping too early and then, compounding the issue, safety Cody Riggs got flagged for targeting. After a review, the penalty was upheld and Riggs remain ejected from the game, a big blow to an already thin defense ravaged by injury. On the next play, Mauk connected with receiver Bud Sasser for a 20-yard touchdown and in 22 seconds Florida was down 7-0.
Play No. 2: Running back Henry Josey’s six-yard touchdown run.
This was a pivotal moment in the game and it came early in the second half. Solomon Patton opened up the second stanza in a big way with his 100-yard kickoff return to cut the Missouri lead to three points and shift momentum in Florida’s favor. Josey’s touchdown swng that momentum back, extending the lead to 20-10, essentially negating the impact of Patton’s return. Missouri’s offensive line got a good push, and Josey squirted into the second level. Florida linebacker Antonio Morrison flowed too far to the right along with defensive back Brian Poole. Missouri right tackle Mitch Morse used that to his advantage, and blocked both of them by himself.
Play No. 3: Henry Josey’s 50-yard run.
It came two plays after Florida running back Kelvin Taylor’s 20-yard touchdown run cut Missouri’s lead to 23-17. It was another play that served as a nullifying force to any positive momentum the Gators could gather.
It was another case of Florida’s linebackers looking bad. Missouri’s backside guard blocked Michael Taylor, and Josey rumbled along until he was tackled by Florida safety Marcus Maye. The Tigers were stopped short of the end zone and had to settle for a field goal, but with Florida’s bad offense, those three points represented a two score game at 26-17 and that was a huge.