Until Missouri shows that it can regain competence again, I find it hard to believe that they’re going to string together a performance like the ones against West Virginia, Troy, Ole Miss, etc. Kelly Bryant is supposedly 100%, Johnathon Johnson should be back, but health doesn’t stop receivers from dropping balls; nor does it stop an offensive line from missing key blocks. As currently construed, this Florida defense doesn’t need to be elite to stop the Tiger attack. Unfortunately for us, this Florida defense is elite. So how does Missouri overcome that? Take a look at the depth chart and I’ll share some key areas that the Tigers need to take advantage of.
Jabari Zuniga - R-SR: 10 tackles/7 TFLs/3 sacks
Zachary Carter - R-SO: 15 tackles/5 TFLs/3.5 sacks/1 PBU
Kyree Campbell - JR: 22 tackles/4 TFLs/1 sack/1 FF
Luke Ancrum - R-SR: 14 tackles/3 TFLs/1 sack
Adam Shuler - R-SR: 15.5 tackles/4.5 TFLs/2 sacks/1 PBU
Tedarrell Slaton - JR: 15 tackles/2 TFLs/0.5 sacks/1 PBU
Jonathan Greenard - SR: 29 tackles/7 TFLs/4 sacks/3 PBUs/1 INT
Jeremiah Moon - R-JR: 24 tackles/6.5 TFLs/3 sacks/2 PBUs
David Reese II - SR: 54.5 tackles/4.5 TFLs/2 sacks
James Houston IV - R-SO: 23 tackles/4.5 TFLs/2 sacks/1 FF
Ventrell Miller - R-SO: 24 tackles/2 TFLs/2 sacks/2 PBUs
Lacedrick Brunson - SO: 14 tackles/2.5 TFLs/1 sack
Trey Dean III - SO: 17.5 tackles/3 TFLs/2 sacks/1 PBU/1 INT/1 FF
Khris Bogle - FR: 11 tackles/3.5 TFLs/2 sacks/1 PBU
C.J. Henderson - JR: 19 tackles/2 TFLs/1 sack/10 PBUs
Jaydon Hill - FR: 5.5 tackles/0.5 TFLs/3 PBUs
Donovan Stiner - JR: 19 tackles/1 TFL/4 INTs
Jeawon Taylor - SR: 12 tackles/1.5 TFLs/1 PBU
Shawn Davis - JR: 32 tackles/1 TFL/2 PBUs/3 INTs
Chester Kimbrough - FR: 5 tackles/2 PBUs
Marco Wilson - R-SO: 19 tackles/1.5 TFLs/1 PBU/2 INTs
Kaiir Elam - FR: 5.5 tackles/3 PBUs/2 INTs
Evan McPherson - SO: 38-38 PATs/9-11 FGs (81.8%)
Tommy Townsend - R-SR: 30 punts/44.6 avg/3 touch backs/14 fair catches
Freddie Swain - SR: 2 kick returns/19.5 avg//12 punt returns/4.5 avg
Florida’s defense ranks 15th in SP+, but instead of ranking in the top 25 in every category like Georgia, it merely ranks in the top 50 in every category (oh, goodie). But there a few ways they can be taken advantage of. Here’s how:
The Forward Pass
You really don’t want to run on Florida: 20th in rushing defense, 20th in success rate, 32nd in stopping efficiency, 20th in allowing 5-yards per carry. They do allow explosive plays on the ground (82nd) but, overall, are lights out. So the Tigers will have to...gulp...pass to win. And even then that’s not great: 39th in passing defense, 32nd in efficiency, 41st in stopping efficiency, 17th in stopping explosive passing plays, 9th in sack rate. But the passing numbers are technically better than the running numbers. The Missouri receivers have been pretty aloof in handling passes, and that must change to have any success this week. If they stick with the heavy usage of the tight ends, I’ll feel decent about our passing success chances.
When it comes to passing downs, the Gators are dynamite, ranking 14th overall. So, just like last week, it would be in the Tigers’ best interest to stay on schedule and keep the yards to go manageable. I’m not saying that will happen, mind you, but that’s how you keep Todd Grantham’s “emotional blitzing” from tearing an offense apart.
Oh, those pesky third downs. The Tigers are awful at converting them and...what’s this...the Gators are equally bad at defending them? 62nd in third-and-long, 81st in medium, 60th in short. That’s...not what I expected from the 15th best defense in the country. If the Tigers start magically converting third downs, then you’ll know there’s potential for a good day on Saturday.
I still say this will be an excellent game to attend (if you still need tickets, go here). You won’t see an offensive shoot out, but I do believe that you’ll see some competency from the Tigers. And against a ranked opponent, at home? That’s a magical feeling. Expect this to be super low scoring, but I do believe the Tigers can hang for four quarters.