No. 9 Missouri will continue its surprising quest for a New Year’s Six bowl berth when it hosts struggling Florida on Saturday in Columbia, Mo.
Coming off their 36-7 victory over Tennessee, the Tigers (8-2, 4-2 Southeastern Conference) will bring ample momentum to Saturday’s game versus the Gators (5-5, 3-4).
“We can’t rely on last week’s performance,” Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said. “We have to stand alone on what we’re going to do this week.”
The Tigers already have earned their most victories since 2018 and they are aiming to reach double-digit victories for the first time since 2014.
“Hopefully it’s a new trajectory of Tiger football,” Drinkwitz said. “We’ve been kind stuck there in that middle. Now obviously this year we’re not. Obviously we’ve got to finish, we’ve got to finish the season. But there’s a new respectability to our program, whether it’s on the recruiting trail or the football field.”
Florida carries a three-game losing streak into this game. Pressure is mounting on second-year coach Billy Napier, who went 6-7 and 3-5 in the SEC during his first season.
“It is what it is. I think we have to continue to be action-oriented, solution-oriented. I do believe in what we do and how we do it,” Napier said. “There’s always adjustments that are required. We have tremendous leadership here top-down. We have great resources. We have a tremendous product to sell. This place has done it before, and I’m firmly confident that we’re capable of doing it again.”
Missouri Brady Cook has completed 201 of 296 passes for 2,746 yards, 17 touchdowns and six interceptions this season. He also has rushed for 228 yards and six scores.
“This guy for sure has the ability on third down to escape and extend and make some plays with his feet,” Napier said. “He’s also playing really efficiently, in my opinion. They do a good job using their skill. They play with balance. They do a good job with the run concepts.”
Luther Burden III has caught 68 passes for 984 yards and eight touchdowns despite battling a nagging ankle injury. Theo Wease Jr. has 43 receptions for 547 yards and five scores.
Running back Cody Schrader has rushed for 1,124 yards and 11 touchdowns with a 5.7-yard average. Against Tennessee, he rushed for 205 yards also caught five passes for 116 yards.
“The guy’s got good instincts and vision,” Napier said. “I think he can get small, plays at pad level with power. Ultimately, I think he’s a guy that’s been productive as a running back for a long time. I think they do a good job conceptually creating running lanes for him, and he’s able to maximize those.”
Florida quarterback Graham Mertz has completed 247 of 337 passes for 2,720 yards, 18 touchdowns and just two interceptions.
Ricky Pearsall has caught 62 passes for 876 yards and four touchdowns. Eugene Wilson III has 51 receptions for 479 yards and five scores.
Trevor Etienne (628 yards, seven touchdowns, 5.9-yard average) and Montrell Johnson Jr. (625 yards, four TDs, 5.1 average) have powered the ground game.
“Coach Napier does a really good job, multiple formations, multiple shifts, motions, multiple personnels,” Drinkwitz said. “A lot of different eye candy as far as moving people around. Then they’ve got dynamic playmakers, they’ve got really good running backs.”
–Field Level Media
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