Photo credit: University of Florida athletic association
Extended time off can't stop this historically talented Florida Gators offense.
In their first game action back after a 21-day layoff, the Florida Gators picked back up where they left off and then some.
Despite a slow start by the Gators offense and a relatively quiet night by Kyle Pitts, Florida’s offense took the confidence that a 74-yard scoring drive gave them and ran with it en route to a 41-17 victory against the Missouri Tigers.
Scoring 28 unanswered between the last four minutes of the second quarter and near the end of the third, the Gators put together the best two-way performance of the entire season.
With multiple players getting in on the scoring action—including Kadarius Toney, Justin Shorter, and Trevon Grimes—Kyle Trask threw four touchdown passes to tie a record for most touchdown passes in the first four games of a season with 18.
In fact, this could be dubbed the Kadarius Toney game. A fitting description of the Gators' dominant victory given his three touchdowns and 83 total yards.
Toney specifically found the end zone a whopping three times and was the difference maker of the game in the end. Adding to his already impressive campaign, Florida proved there is more to their offense than the Kyle-to-Kyle connection.
Totaling 514 total yards—with 345 coming through the air and 169 coming on the ground—the incredible turnaround of Florida’s offense after a sluggish beginning to the game shows the ability to overcome adversity.
An important characteristic for a team looking to conquer the SEC East division next week in Jacksonville.
Despite the 41 points Florida posted on the scoreboard, the greatest storyline from this game comes by way of the defenses bounce-back performance with a near-perfect game.
Holding the Tigers to a mere 17 points, 16 below their average points allowed on the year, a flashback of the Gator defenses of the past occurred.
Led by the movement of youth in the secondary with Marco Wilson, Shawn Davis, and Donovan Stiner out of action, a much-rejuvenated unit stepped onto the field and brought the motto that is said to define UF: Fast, physical, and aggressive.
The response of defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s unit to the shaky play and criticism was one that came by way of surprise and is a big momentum change for the future. Improving upon the issues that faced early in the year, the Gators starting unit allowed just three points on the night to Missouri’s offensive unit.
The other scores came by way of an early pick-six that gave the Tigers a 7-6 lead and a garbage time rushing touchdown from Larry Rountree II.
Capping off the victory with a fumble recovery by true freshman Kamar Wilcoxson, given the aforementioned youth movement brought into effect by the inactive players, was a fitting way to finish the connect.
Ultimately, the Gators put together a victory that could carry them through the rest of the season, knowing they can have success on both sides of the football.
Unfortunately, the tally in the win column will likely be clouded by the multiple punishments handed out for Gator players' roles during the halftime skirmish.
This resulted in starting defensive end Zachary Carter and reserve edge rusher Antwuan Powell being ejected from the game.
UF will look to move past the possible negatives of the brawl and take the positives forward into TIAA Bank Field in their annual showdown with the Georgia Bulldogs. Head coach Dan Mullen said postgame that he believes both will be eligible to play against Georgia next week.