Three things to know as Florida hits rock bottom in blowout loss to Missouri
Just when you think things can't get worse for the Gators, they do
"We got no food, we got no job ... our pets' heads are falling off!"
No, last weekend's 42-7 loss to Georgia wasn't great either. But that's a good Georgia team that exited that beatdown with the No. 1 ranking in the College Football Playoff Rankings and with plenty in front of it.
This was a Missouri team that came in winless in the SEC with a defense that was giving up 6.86 yards per play against conference opponents and a shell its former self.
What can you take away from Florida's listless effort and Missouri's first SEC win?
1. Florida's quarterback problem is obvious, but it's much bigger than that: Malik Zaire got his first start since Week 2 of 2015 when he was still at Notre Dame, and things didn't exactly go according to plan. The graduate transfer dual-threat lefty completed just 13-of-19 passing for 158 yards, one interception and only ran for 17 yards. He was replaced by previous starter Feleipe Franks, who did toss a mop-up duty touchdown to at least make the scoreboard a little less embarrassing.
This isn't on interim coach Randy Shannon. In this week of turmoil after the Sunday announcement that the school had parted ways with former coach Jim McElwain midway through Year 3, you can't expect a top-tier performance. Who it is on is McElwain for his abject failure to develop any quarterback during his two-and-a-half years in Gainesville, offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier for playing a big part in that lack of development, and a Gator offensive line that -- while highly touted this offseason by the staff -- has been woeful in passing situations for the third straight season.
Saturday afternoon's performance by the Gators was served as assurance that the right call with McElwain was made. Personality issues aside, he failed to perform the job he was hired to do despite back-to-back SEC East titles in 2015 and 2016. His offense failed, and Shannon was left to pick up the pieces in Columbia, Missouri. Instead, even more were shattered.
2. Defense shares plenty of blame in Florida's demise: Don't be fooled into thinking that Florida's follies are exclusive to the offense. They're not. This defense has regressed into a punchline rather than a power. It gave up 455 yards to Missouri and was picked apart by Tiger quarterback Drew Lock to the tune of 228 yards and three touchdowns and. Florida was also gashed by a rushing attacked that entered play ninth in the SEC in rushing offense.
It's the first time since 1917 that Florida has given up 42 points in consecutive games, and its 27.63 points per game allowed is the worst since 1946.
Like the offense, this is on McElwain. Once studs like Caleb Brantley, Jarrad Davis, Marcus Maye, Teez Tabor, Quincy Wilson and a host of Will Muschamp recruits moved on, the downturn in recruiting under McElwain was exposed and has hampered the Gators all year.
3. Missouri actually has improved: Saturday's game wasn't just an indictment of Florida, it was a signal that Missouri actually has passed them in the SEC East in terms of overall team progression. It's the third straight game in which the Missouri defense has held opponents to 21 points or less, third straight game scoring more than 40 points and Lock has thrown 21 touchdowns and only three interceptions since the start of October. Perhaps not coincidentally, that was one week after the famous rant by coach Barry Odom that went viral following a loss to Auburn.
Does that make Missouri a threat? Not in the East. That ship sailed long ago.
But it does give it something to build off of moving forward. Lock can still come back after this season, freshman Larry Roundtree scored three times on the ground, junior Emanuel Hall has come on strong since the start of October at wide receiver with three 100-yard games and the defense has its edge back a bit.
That, my friends, is called a "foundation."
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