Florida 14, Mizzou 7: Tigers play best, most frustrating game of the season

Sam Greenwood

So close.

2012 Mad Lib: The Mizzou Defense shows well, but [injury-plagued sieve of an offensive line -or- woefully inaccurate quarterback] leads to too many offensive miscues. Granted, the Mizzou defense played its best game of the season on Saturday, dominating for basically all but about three plays. And granted, the line actually wasn't terrible (though its effectiveness waned dramatically as the game progressed). But despite reaching Florida territory on seven different possessions, woeful quarterback play led to Mizzou's demise in a 14-7 loss to No. 8 Florida in Gainesville. James Franklin, returning after basically a three-game absence, completed 24 of 50 passes for 236 yards and four picks, and the Tigers fell to 4-5 with a particularly frustrating, what-could-have-been loss.

Know this: If you want to give up on James Franklin, go ahead. But in doing so, you're ignoring his performance from almost the entire 2011 season, when he didn't miss time with injury, when he wasn't "85 percent," as Gary Pinkel described him before the game, and when he wasn't trying to figure out how to develop a beginning-of-the-season rapport with his receivers a) in November and b) against a ridiculously good Florida pass defense. He wasn't reading the field well, and he couldn't even pretend to hit an intermediate pass. He would be the first person to tell you this. Neither of those characteristics have been a particular strength for QB No. 1, but neither have been this dramatic a weakness.

But while Franklin is not a very good quarterback right now, realize that this might not be the same James Franklin we see when he actually gets to play two consecutive games (and next week he gets to face a Tennessee defense dramatically inferior to Florida's). And realize this almost certainly won't be the James Franklin we see next year if he actually gets to remain healthy this offseason. He missed most of the summer and started the season behind the curve. He missed the Arizona State game, came back for 4.5 quarters, then missed almost another three full games with a completely different injury. This hinders a quarterback's development, to say the least. His performance today doesn't say incredibly wonderful things about the rest of 2012, and it cost Mizzou a potentially rare shot at a win in the Swamp, but if you stomp your feet and say you're "Done … DONE!!!" with Franklin, you might feel pretty dumb about it at a later date. Bad today doesn't mean bad forever.

It was definitely frustrating, though, wasn't it? Mizzou put up a solid 335 yards and ground out 23 first downs against the second-best defense in the country. Dorial Green-Beckham caught six passes for 73 yards, Marcus Lucas made a couple of tough, encouraging catches, and Kendial Lawrence and Marcus Murphy made the most of the blocking they got. And the Tiger defense was fantastic, holding the Gators' offense to 276 total yards. Mike Gillislee rushed once for 23 yards and gained just 45 yards in his other 15 carries. Quarterback Jeff Driskel generated just 106 yards in 23 passes. Florida scored with two perfect play-calls, but the Mizzou offense generated enough chances to counter 14 points. It didn't happen, and that stinks.

As is customary, consider this your Rest Of Saturday Live Thread.

Also: Beat Tennessee.

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