It’s hard to imagine that a 523-yard performance could be considered average, but the mistakes Florida made warrant this grade. Four turnovers and 8 false-start penalties killed so many drives and kept the offense from getting into a rhythm. It was a frustrating return for quarterback Luke Del Rio, who saw his first action in four weeks and it showed. He wasn’t accurate or smart enough with the football and seemed to be pressing. Del Rio’s sprained left knee affected his play, even though he claimed it didn’t bother him. The bright spots were the running backs (almost 300 yards rushing) and a breakout game from Tyrie Cleveland, who will become a special player for the Gators.
Take away that second-half meltdown at Tennessee, and there isn’t a starting defense in the country that’s been more dominant than Florida’s. “DBU” shut down the league’s best passer, Drew Lock, who came into The Swamp averaging 335 yards per game. The Gators held him to 25 yards passing in the first half and 39 for the game, a career-low, along with two pick-6s. Lock is the second consecutive SEC quarterback to collapse on the road at UF. Kentucky’s Drew Barker threw for 10 yards (TEN!) and had 3 picks against Florida. The only negative for this defense was its second-team unit, which gave up 160 yards and a 99-yard touchdown drive in the fourth quarter.
Special teams: B+
After missing wide right from 32 yards, Eddy Piniero responded with field goals of 53 and 24 yards. Johnny Townsend had all four of his punts downed inside the 20. The Gators even got some production in the return game. Lamical Perine had a 41-yard kick return and Antonio Callaway returned Missouri’s onside kick 44 yards for a touchdown.
Scarlett received 12 touches for the second straight game, but it’s hard to disagree with the distribution of carries Saturday. Mark Thompson ran hard (10 rushes for 65 yards) and Lamical Perine had his second 100-yard game this season. Scarlett had 101 yards himself and a 33-yard touchdown run. Both coordinators called a good game, but Del Rio had trouble running the offense.
The first-team defense was lights out, special teams made plays and the Gators gained a lot of yards offensively. They just need to punch it in the end zone, which has been a problem throughout the season. That must be addressed during the bye week along with the penalties, and several players need to get healthy.