Florida vs. Missouri, Theater of Operations: Part one of how the defense and special teams performed

Sam Greenwood

The defense and special teams of the Florida Gators had to once again become the difference maker against the Tigers of Missouri.

Instead of looking at the offense in two parts, this week we'll instead take a look at the defense in two parts for a total of nine plays. The offense is frustrating enough. No need to rehash it over and over again for a second week in a row.

Just by glancing at boxscore without looking at the total points scored by the Missouri Tigers, you'd might be inclined to think that the Florida Gators gave up more than 7 points. That they didn't is due in large part to the four turnovers given up by the Tigers offense.

The most interesting stat in regards to the turnovers by the Tigers offense: three of them occurred in Gators territory.

Tigers quarterback James Franklin threw for 236 yards, ran for another 30 but was never able to find the end zone. He did hurt the Gators with his legs on occasion, but that "hurt" never really threatened the Gators too much. The running back duo of Kendial Lawrence and Marcus Murphy were held to 34 and 32 yards respectively. Lawrence did account for the Tigers' lone touchdown on the day.

Highly rated freshman Dorial Green-Beckham had 73 yards receiving on six catches and was for the most part the only Tigers receiver who the Gators had to worry about. While eight other players combined for 18 catches and 160-plus yards, they were largely dump off passes or screens for short yardage.

And yes, I consider anything under 13-14 yards per catch to be short yardage.

Play No. 1: Dante Fowler Jr.'s sack, forced intentional grounding penalty


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

This is the flea-flicker play which wasn't really covered all that great down the field by the defensive backs, but hey, pressure on the quarterback is a good thing.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Soon after Franklin gets the ball back, you can see that Jelani Jenkins is coming in off his blitz and has clean line of sight on Franklin. Fowler (yellow circle) is still trying to clear his block.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Jenkins' pressure forces Franklin into the path of Fowler Jr.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Fowler Jr. hits Franklin just as he's trying to throw the ball away. However, because there wasn't a receiver in the area and the ball didn't go past the line of scrimmage, the play results in an intentional grounding penalty.

And of course a sack for Fowler Jr.

Play No. 2: Jaylen Watkins' interception


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

I wasn't going to show the setup of this play, mostly because it's irrelevant. But this whole yardage thing gained by the offense has been annoying me the past few games. Just thought it should be highlighted again.

But if you're so inclined, Watkins is the one playing soft coverage on the sideline about 8 yards from the receiver.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

It's not like Franklin was under pressure either.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Just a terrible throw. The ball floated on Franklin and the result is the first interception of the day for the Gators defense. Watkins return the ball 16 yards and it set up... Caleb Sturgis' blocked field goal.

Play No. 3: Jonathan Bullard's sack


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Bullard comes on just a straight rush to the quarterback.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Franklin's mistake here is running towards the defender. In this case, he runs right into Bullard at the exact moment that Bullard sheds his block.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

I'm hoping that Bullard becomes the next great defensive end for the Gators. It's been a while since we've had a legitimately feared pass rusher.

Play No. 4: Loucheiz Purifoy blocks Andrew Baggett's 25 yard field goal attempt


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Nobody even notices Purifoy on the line. Apparently. How? I don't know.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

After the snap and as soon as the ball is placed on the ground, you can see Purifoy is free and on his way.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

It's blurry (because ESPN's digital copy is always terrible for some reason) but you can make out that Purifoy has streaked in front of Baggett and has blocked the kick.

On a day in which the offense struggled (again) the defense and special teams picked their game up (again). I'm sure in team meetings and stuff the defense is looking at the offense and thinking:

"Whenever you want to show up, just holler."

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