University of Missouri

Florida’s defense has put the clamps on opponents

Updated: 2013-10-19T04:41:30Z

By TOD PALMER

The Kansas City Star

— Florida’s defensive stats are ridiculous, just positively absurd.

The Gators rank third in the nation in total defense, allowing only 235.3 yards per game, and fourth in scoring offense, coughing up only 13 points per game.

Coach Will Muschamp’s bunch seems to be every bit as good against the run (fourth, 83.3 yards per game) and the pass (third, 152.0 yards per game). Florida ranks second in passing efficiency defense.

The Gators have allowed the fourth fewest first downs (84) and opponents are converting on third down only 27.1 percent of the time, which ranks eighth in the nation.

“They’ve got the best defense in the SEC, but it’s going to be a fun game,” senior left tackle Justin Britt said. “Mizzou’s going to be rocking.”

Five Gators defenders were drafted in during the 2013 NFL Draft — defensive tackle Sharrif Floyd (23rd, Minnesota), safeties Matt Elam (32nd, Baltimore) and Josh Evans (169th, Jacksonville) and linebackers Jonathan Bostic (50th, Chicago) and Jelani Jenkins (104th, Miami) — but, if anything, the Gators are even better now.

“I thought, because they lost so many great defensive players, that there would be a big drop off, but obviously there’s not at all,” Tigers coach Gary Pinkel said.

Pinkel acknowledged nobody’s found a weakness in Florida’s defense, but Missouri also boasts one of the top offenses in the country, ranking 12th in the nation in total offense (515.7) and eighth in scoring offense (45.7).

Even with redshirt freshman Maty Mauk making his first college start, several Tigers vowed not to be intimidated.

“We’re still very capable of putting points on the board with Maty,” sophomore center Evan Boehm said.

To reach Tod Palmer, call 816-234-4389 or send email to tpalmer@kcstar.com. Follow him at twitter.com/todpalmer.

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