Franks benched as Gators go down to Tigers
Damarea Crockett didn’t need much space.
The Missouri running back took the handoff from quarterback Drew Lock and zipped past Florida’s defenders down the left sideline for a 24-yard gain. A couple of plays later, he reached his destination to cap a 78-yard second-quarter scoring drive that put his team up 21-3 over the No. 13 (No. 11 CFP) Florida Gators.
The Tigers entered Saturday’s game desperate for an SEC victory. No conference wins through eight games this year — including a heartbreaking loss to Kentucky on the last play of last week’s game — was all the fuel Missouri needed to take down Florida 38-17 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday.
The Gators had few answers for Missouri’s efficiency.
Florida’s pass defense, which entered the game giving up just 170.1 yards through the air, fell victim to Lock’s accurate arm.
He converted 24 of 32 passes and threw for 250 yards with three touchdowns.
The Tigers converted on third down 61 percent of the time with Lock at the helm, and they compiled 471 yards on the day.
Florida, on the other hand, was unable to take advantage of a Missouri pass defense that ranks 14th in the SEC. And it was largely due to a poor performance by quarterback Feleipe Franks.
The redshirt sophomore was barely able to find or connect with open receivers and finished the game 9-for-22 passing with 84 yards.
He was benched during the third quarter in favor of redshirt sophomore Kyle Trask, who went 5 for 8 for 59 yards on his first drive. He marched the Gators straight into the end zone on a 75-yard drive that included two fourth-down conversions — one was a slant pass to wideout Trevon Grimes to set up a first-and-goal and the second was a pass to receiver Josh Hammond in the end zone on fourth-and-goal.
Trask finished with 118 yards on 10-of-18 passing, but his efforts weren’t enough to keep the Gators from suffering their second straight loss.
Furthermore, the way Lock and Missouri’s running backs had their way against Florida’s defense was reminiscent of the Tigers’ 45-16 rout of the Gators a year ago — a game that saw Lock throw for 228 yards with three touchdowns and the Tigers amass 227 yards on the ground.
Saturday, Crockett’s touchdown run was just one of three first-half scores for the Tigers. Busted coverage in the second quarter by the Florida defense left Missouri tight end Albert Okwuegbunam wide open for a 22-yard touchdown catch. No one dropped into coverage to account for the dangerous Missouri pass-catcher, and the Gators were left scratching their heads after allowing Okwuegbunam to grab his sixth touchdown of the season.
He did not play the second half because ofa bruised right shoulder.
But it proved no aid to a Gators team that was outplayed by Missouri from kickoff.
“It’s a harsh reality for us,” Gators coach Dan Mullen said after the game. “It’s a bit of a reality check of where we are.”
The Tigers’ Tyler Badie carries the ball as Missouri topped Florida on Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.