University of Missouri

Missouri-Florida college football preview

When/where: 6 p.m. Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla.

TV/radio: ESPN2; KMBZ (980 AM)

The series: Missouri leads 2-1

The line: Florida by 5 1/2

MISSOURI (4-2, 1-1 SEC)

Date

Opponent

Result/time

Aug. 30

South Dakota State

W, 38-18

Sept. 6

at Toledo

W, 49-24

Sept. 13

Central Florida

W, 38-10

Sept. 20

Indiana

L, 31-27

Sept. 27

at South Carolina

W, 21-20

Oct. 11

Georgia

L, 34-0

Saturday

at Florida

6 p.m.

Oct. 25

Vanderbilt

3 p.m.

Nov. 1

Kentucky

TBA

Nov. 15

at Texas A&M

TBA

Nov. 22

at Tennessee

TBA

Nov. 28

Arkansas

1:30 p.m.

FLORIDA (3-2, 2-2 SEC)

Date

Opponent

Result/time

Aug. 30

Idaho

Cancelled

Sept. 6

Eastern Michigan

W, 65-0

Sept. 13

Kentucky

W, 36-30 (OT)

Sept. 20

at Alabama

L, 42-21

Oct. 4

at Tennessee

W, 10-9

Oct. 11

LSU

L, 30-27

Saturday

Missouri

6 p.m.

Nov. 1

vs. Georgia

2:30 p.m.

Nov. 8

at Vanderbilt

TBA

Nov. 15

South Carolina

TBA

Nov. 22

Eastern Kentucky

TBA

Nov. 29

at Florida State

TBA

What’s at stake

Bowl eligibility? Obviously, it’s something of an elimination game in the SEC East race, but that ship probably sailed with the loss to Georgia anyway. Looking ahead at Missouri’s schedule after Florida and Vanderbilt, the finishing kick against Kentucky, at Texas A&M and Tennessee and versus Arkansas looks treacherous.

Cheers if ...

Missouri’s offense finds its legs again. The Tigers have been staggered the last few weeks. While the passing game has taken the brunt of criticism, Missouri isn’t running the ball effectively either. It’s up to offensive coordinator Josh Henson and quarterback Maty Mauk to revive things before they goes from bad to worse.

Jeers if ...

Florida, and its quarterback platoon of Jeff Driskel and Treon Harris, light up the scoreboard in The Swamp. The Gators have struggled offensively almost as much as the Tigers this season. Missouri needs to keep that trend going. Defensive coordinator Dave Steckel’s unit has made great strides since the Indiana loss.

Three things about Florida

1 Driskel has struggled, completing less than 55 percent of his passes with eight interceptions and only six touchdowns. Gator Nation is clamoring for Harris, but he’s inexperienced aside from a late-game appearance at Tennessee when he completed two of four passes for 17 yards.

2 Florida averages more than three sacks and eight tackles for a loss per game. Backup defensive end Alex McCalister, who had 1 1/2 sacks and 2 1/2 tackles for a loss last week against LSU, leads the charge along with fellow end Dante Fowler Jr., who is tied with McCalister’s team lead at five tackles for a loss and second with 2 1/2 sacks.

3 Florida’s top two running backs, junior Matt Jones and sophomore Kelvin Taylor, average only 4.9 yards per game, but both are dangerous and potentially game-changing runners.

Key matchup

Missouri’s receivers vs. Florida’s secondary: Missouri needs to protect better up front and quarterback Maty Mauk needs to make better decisions consistently, but it won’t matter if the Tigers’ receivers don’t get open. The Gators’ starting cornerbacks, junior Brian Poole and sophomore Vernon Hargreaves III, are as good as it gets.

MISSOURI OFFENSE

P

No.

Player

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

WR

21

Bud Sasser

6-2

220

Sr.

WR

88

Jimmie Hunt

6-0

205

Sr.

LT

65

Mitch Morse

6-6

305

Sr.

LG

63

Brad McNulty

6-4

305

Jr.

C

77

Evan Boehm

6-3

320

Jr.

RG

60

Connor McGovern

6-4

300

Jr.

RT

62

Taylor Chappell

6-5

300

Jr.

TE

80

Sean Culkin

6-6

245

So.

WR

8

Darius White

6-3

205

Sr.

QB

7

Maty Mauk

6-0

195

So.

TB

32

Russell Hansbrough

5-9

190

Jr.

K

99

Andrew Baggett

6-1

215

Jr.

MISSOURI DEFENSE

P

No.

Player

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

DE

33

Markus Golden

6-3

260

Sr.

DT

96

Lucas Vincent

6-2

300

Sr.

NG

90

Harold Brantley

6-3

290

So.

DE

56

Shane Ray

6-3

245

Jr.

LB

10

Kentrell Brothers

6-1

240

Jr.

LB

30

Michael Scherer

6-3

230

So.

LB

40

Clarence Green

6-0

225

Jr.

CB

7

Kenya Dennis

6-0

195

Jr.

SS

9

Braylon Webb

6-0

200

Sr.

FS

21

Ian Simon

6-0

195

Jr.

CB

11

Aarion Penton

5-10

185

So.

P

92

Christian Brinser

6-2

195

Sr.

FLORIDA OFFENSE

P

No.

Player

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

WR

11

Demarcus Robinson

6-2

201

So.

WR

9

Latroy Pittman

6-0

208

Jr.

LT

70

D.J. Humphries

6-5

295

Jr.

LG

63

Trip Thurman

6-5

310

Jr.

C

76

Max Garcia

6-5

294

Sr.

RG

74

Trenton Brown

6-8

350

Sr.

RT

75

Chaz Green

6-5

300

Sr.

TE

88

Clay Burton

6-4

250

Sr.

WR

1

Quinton Dunbar

6-2

194

Sr.

QB

6

Jeff Driskel

6-4

230

Jr.

RB

24

Matt Jones

6-2

226

Jr.

K

95

Francisco Velez

5-9

182

Sr.

FLORIDA DEFENSE

P

No.

Player

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

DE

6

Dante Fowler Jr.

6-3

266

Jr.

NG

55

Darious Cummings

6-1

309

Sr.

DT

90

Jon Bullard

6-3

270

Jr.

DE

94

Bryan Cox Jr.

6-3

260

So.

LB

11

Neiron Ball

6-3

235

Sr.

LB

40

Jarrad Davis

6-2

226

So.

LB

3

Antonio Morrison

6-1

230

Jr.

CB

24

Brian Poole

5-10

205

Jr.

S

42

Keanu Neal

6-1

203

So.

S

20

Marcus Maye

6-0

206

So.

CB

1

V. Hargreaves III

5-11

192

So.

P

4

Kyle Christy

6-3

198

Sr.

Tod Palmer’s pick: Florida 20-17

Both offenses are struggling, but both defense are playing well. The difference might be Florida’s ability to create turnovers. Missouri hasn’t managed a takeaway in three straight games. That has to change to escape The Swamp with a win.

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

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