(Photo Credit: Rob Foldy- Getty Images)
It was another positive day for the Missouri Tigers as they defeated the Florida Gators for the second year in a row. This time though it wasn’t the offense doing to work, but rather the defense and special teams. The Tigers registered just 20 total passing yards and 119 yards of total offense in a 42-13 rout of the Gators Saturday night. A performance like tonight-just goes to show how important all three facets of a team is in defining success. The Tiger defense came to play forcing three fumbles and three interceptions, two of which were returned for touchdowns.
Marcus Murphy came out of the gate early with a 96-yard touchdown return a mere nine seconds into the game to give Missouri the 7-0 advantage. Murphy had a dazzling day as he amassed 224 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns. Let’s also note that 197 of those yards and two touchdowns came courtesy of the special teams unit.
The Tigers added to their lead later following a sack and forced fumble from Kentrell Brothers giving the ball back to the Missouri offense inside the Florida twenty. Murphy busted through the line on a 5-yard run to stretch the Tiger lead to 14-0.
Maty Mauk looked to be putting together a solid drive at the beginning of the second quarter, but was unable to break his recent struggles as he missed Bud Sasser twice. This set up a 15-yard field goal opportunity for Andrew Baggett and he connected pushing the Tiger lead to 17-0.
The defense came up big later in the second quarter as Braylon Webb picked off Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel and nearly took it to the end zone before he was stopped inside the Florida five. Though once again Mauk couldn’t figure out the chemistry with his wide outs, as Missouri had to settle for a field goal. At the break Missouri held a 20-0 lead.
The second half brought much of the same. After a Florida stalled drive Murphy was back at it again as he torched the Gator defense with an 82-yard punt return for a touchdown, his third on the evening. Missouri then went for the two-point conversion and were successful as Mauk hit Sasser to push the Tiger lead to 28-0.
Then it was the defense’s turn to have some fun. On third down Markus Golden got in on the action recovering a fumble and taking it to the house. Then on the ensuing drive Darvin Ruise picked off Driskel and returned it 46-yards for a touchdown extending the Missouri lead to 42-0.
Florida added a pair of meaningless touchdowns to cut the deficit, but it would be no match as Missouri came away with the victory 42-13. The Tigers move to 5-2 on the season, while the Gators fall to 3-3. The Tigers are next in action next week at home against Vanderbilt for homecoming.
There are both good takeaways and bad takeaways from this game. The good takeaways, obviously, were the defensive takeaways. The Missouri defense played out of their minds tonight recording six turnovers for the game. From the defensive line to the defensive backs everything was clicking. The special teams also performed excellent. Murphy specifically had a great game with the two big returns, but you can’t do that without a great supporting cast so credit to those guys for stepping up. Additional credit goes to Andrew Baggett for connecting on both field goals and going 4/4 on PAT’s. Baggett often times shaky came through tonight after having an easy week against Georgia. (Only one kick on the kickoff)
Then there’s the offense. Take one look at the score and you think they performed great. Yet, Florida more than doubled their total yardage for the game amassing 283 yards to Missouri’s 119. How does that happen?! Sports are crazy, that’s how. With that being said, Maty Mauk has to figure out what the problem is. I understand everyone has an off game, but this guy looks lost out there. He hasn’t thrown a touchdown pass since the fourth quarter against Indiana, which was four games ago. That’s a problem. 20 yards of passing offense is absolutely inexcusable for any level of football. That is not going to win games, especially against tough teams.
Like the old saying goes good defense wins games and tonight that couldn’t be truer. Way to go Missouri defense and special teams, you guys came up big.
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