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Five takeaways from Missouri’s loss in The Swamp

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The competition took a step up, and Missouri’s performance took a dramatic step in the wrong direction.

Missouri vs Florida Photo by Courtney Culbreath/Collegiate Images/Getty Images

It’s not only that Missouri played poorly, which they did, but it’s the way they did it. The progress Mizzou fans saw from this team against LSU and Kentucky seemingly disappeared the moment they stepped on the field against Florida.

Where was the discipline? What happened to the offensive line? The drops that showed up against Tennessee returned against Florida. Connor Bazelak didn’t help his own case with three passes in the first half that were thrown into the dirt, and others that simply didn’t reach his intended targets.

It was an ugly, ugly game that didn’t inspire a whole lot of confidence leading into the bye week. With that being said, let’s get to the top five takeaways from Mizzou’s rough game against the Gators.

1) The offense took a big step in the wrong direction

Florida’s defense is good, but it’s not that good. The Gators allowed 35 points and 613 yards against Ole Miss. South Carolina scored 24 points and held the ball for 36 minutes against the Gators. Texas A&M put up 41 points and finished with 540 total yards against this Florida unit.

The Tigers’ offense just never seemed to get it going. They had seven first half possessions. Those seven possessions resulted in five punts, a missed field goal and a fumble. Missouri averaged just 3.6 yards per play in the first half. They were 1-for-8 on third down. Nothing was working. And it continued that way for much of the game.

The offensive line that was a strength for much of the season was an absolute disaster against Florida. The running game never got going. Bazelak was off and his receivers had at least three big-time drops in the first half, including Jalen Knox’s drop that should have resulted in a touchdown.

Other than that, Mrs. Lincoln, how was the play?

It was bad. All the way around. Just bad. As good as the passing game was against LSU, it was that rough against Florida. As impressive as the running game was against Kentucky, it was that congested against the Gators.

This is a classic ‘burn the tape’ game for the offense. When there’s a couple things that go wrong, you can learn from those and you can teach off of it. There weren’t one or two things that you can point to that went wrong against Florida. What could go wrong did go wrong.

2) What happened to the Tigers’ discipline?

I’m not just talking about the penalties, but the penalties were certainly the most visible part of the problem. The Tigers had an illegal substitution penalty, lined offsides on a punt which gave the Gators a first down, and then, well, there was that situation before the half. We’ll get more into that in a moment.

But it wasn’t just the penalties.

The Tigers either had blown coverages or bad decisions early in the game by seemingly allowing Florida’s running backs to go completely uncovered into the open field. The offense lacked focus and it led to multiple drops.

I can live with Missouri losing to a more talented team. It happens all the time. What I have a tough time accepting is what appears to be a lack of focus or discipline while losing that game. And it felt like that happened far too often for the Tigers against Florida.

3) We have to talk about Connor Bazelak’s performance

That was the first time we’ve really seen Bazelak struggle. He was under siege all day long. His receivers did him no favors with the drops. But he also didn’t play well. He threw multiple passes into the dirt. He had a few passes that simply weren’t accurate. He missed on reads and made a couple poor decisions on third downs.

This was the game that reminded all of us that Bazelak is still a redshirt freshman. He was wildly effective against Tennessee, LSU and Kentucky. He didn’t reach that same effectiveness against Florida.

That’s okay. These games happen, especially for a young quarterback. It’s all about how he bounces back.

Bazelak gets next week off before taking the field against Georgia. If you thought Florida’s defense (without three starters in the secondary) was good, just wait until you see what Georgia looks like defensively. It’s going to be a big challenge.

Bazelak’s lived up to every other challenge since we’ve seen him take the field. There’s no reason to think he won’t be able to bounce back. But it was hard to watch him struggle like that against the Gators.

4) Alright, about the halftime brawl

That was one of the worst halftime moments you could possibly see in any college football game. Florida had an untimed down to finish out the first half. Up 20-7, the Gators opted to throw a Hail Mary. I have no problem with the decision. The Gators had a free play, and they wanted to take advantage of it. Kyle Trask got hit late by Trajan Jeffcoat and the ball fell incomplete.

Jeffcoat should have been flagged. He wasn’t. That was the first point of contention. Florida clearly wasn’t happy with the hit on its quarterback, nor should it have been. But the players started walking toward their respective sidelines.

Then Dan Mullen ran on the field like a mad man. He started screaming at Eli Drinkwitz. His players heard him, turned toward the Missouri players and reacted accordingly. We all saw what happened next.

The entire situation should have been prevented. The flag should have been thrown. Mullen never should have came on the field. The players shouldn’t have been throwing haymakers with their helmets on.

C’MON, MAN!

The whole scene was ugly. It was unnecessary. It looked like Missouri was sore losers and Florida’s head coach was trying to prove he’s Teddy Tough Guy. Mullen is an objectively good football coach. He’s not a particularly easy person to root for, though. This situation was simply the latest reminder of that.

5) Nothing about that game was fun, but it shouldn’t change the outlook for the season

Missouri is 2-3 on the season with wins against LSU and Kentucky, and losses against Alabama, Tennessee and Florida. Let’s not lose sight of where we thought Missouri would be at this point in the season. Before the year, one win through five games would have been viewed as a success. The Tigers have two. Both were huge. And that shouldn’t be overlooked.

The loss at Florida was miserable. I tried like heck to come up with five takeaways from the game.

The whole game can really be summed up like this: WOOF. That was not fun. Zero fun, sir.

I’ve said after the last two weeks that it was fun to watch Missouri football again. This was the opposite of fun. Georgia might not be fun, either. But then the truly meaningful games begin.

This season was always going to come down to how the Tigers played against Kentucky, South Carolina, Arkansas, Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. They have a 1-0 start in those five games. They’ll finish it off with the last four games of the season.

Happy Halloween. I hope you were able to spend it with those closest to you. Enjoy the bye week next week as well. There’s still plenty of football left to play. Hopefully it doesn’t resemble that game in the slightest.