A bounce-back opportunity

Missouri provides an opportunity for Gators to get over tough loss to Georgia

Updated: October 30, 2012, 11:42 AM ET
By Michael DiRocco | GatorNation

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- The sting from Saturday's loss to Georgia had dissipated some by Monday morning, but the 17-9 loss that kept Florida from clinching the SEC's Eastern Division title will certainly linger for a while.

[+] EnlargeJeff Driskel
AP Photo/Stephen MortonFlorida is hoping that sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel can get untracked in the passing game against Missouri.
But the seventh-ranked Gators (7-1, 6-1 SEC) have the perfect opportunity to soothe their pain: a home game against Missouri (4-4, 1-4), a team that lost at home to Vanderbilt and has only beaten Kentucky in league play.

"You treat the wins and the losses to me just the same because come Monday it's preparation for the next opponent," wide receiver Frankie Hammond said. "So it was a loss, we dealt with it, made the corrections, went back, looked at it, seen our mistakes, and get prepared for Missouri this week."

This will be just the program's second meeting with Missouri. The Tigers won the 1966 Sugar Bowl 20-18 by holding off a Steve Spurrier-led comeback. Missouri led 20-0 before Florida scored three touchdowns in the fourth quarter. However, the Gators failed on all three two-point conversion attempts.

The Tigers have struggled in their first season in the SEC. Before beating Kentucky 33-10 on Saturday, they had been outscored 133-55 in four conference games and scored more than 15 points just once (a 41-20 loss to Georgia). Quarterback James Franklin, whose 3,846 yards of total offense last season was more than any other returning player in the SEC this season, has struggled this season. He left the Oct. 6 Vanderbilt game with a sprained knee, missed the Alabama game, and returned in the second half of the Kentucky game. The Tigers were leading only 17-10 when Franklin entered the game.

Missouri is only averaging 284.6 total yards per game, 110.0 on the ground, and is giving up 28.6 points per game and 161.8 rushing yards per game in SEC play.

It should be an opportunity for Florida to work out some of its issues on offense, especially pass protection, and finding a way to combat a game plan for stopping the Gators: Collapsing to stop running back Mike Gillislee and making quarterback Jeff Driskel win the game with his arm.

Muschamp said he can tell the players are eager to get back on the field.

"The tough thing about football is you've to wait seven days [to play again]," UF coach Will Muschamp said. "[Basketball coach] Billy [Donovan] and them may lose on a Wednesday and they can go back out Saturday and play. [The UF baseball team] plays a doubleheader in the morning and then again in the afternoon and can get a win and get it out of their system, but we can't.

"We've got a mature bunch that's able to refocus and put it behind them. You don't forget the loss. To say that is cliché. I don't want them to forget the loss. I want them to learn from it and use it as motivation."

Mike DiRocco | email

ESPN Jacksonville Jaguars reporter