If you would’ve asked folks around the Missouri football program four weeks ago whether they thought the season could be salvaged by making a bowl game, I doubt many would’ve even thought a bowl game was possible. But, as we’ve watched this team battle through some adversity, it’s starting to feel like that goal is obtainable. Case in point: their upcoming matchup with Florida, with a bowl game at stake.
This feels like the last remaining opportunity for Eli Drinkwitz to gain those extra practices in December, especially since his team has to play in Fayetteville to close out the season. But this upcoming game against the Gators presents the perfect opportunity to pull out a win, especially if Tyler Badie can carry this team. Florida ranks 78th in the country in run defense, giving up 157 yards a game, which sounds like the kind of defense that Badie can take advantage of. Will it be easy? No. But I didn’t expect him to still be rushing for 200 yards this late in the season.
This past weekend’s game against the Gamecocks showed us all that Missouri is still an incomplete team that has yet to figure out the quarterback and defensive output. But Drinkwitz sees improvement from this roster, though it may not look like it at times.
“We got two games left to figure it out. We still got a long way to go to be where we want to be, where all the fans want us to be, where as a team we want to be. But we’re showing signs of improvement. We’re showing signs of togetherness. We’re showing signs of things that we want to do, but again, when you have two turnovers in the fourth quarter up three possessions, that’s like beating your head against a wall.”
The inconsistency on defense has certainly marred this football team for most of the season, though the defensive line played much better against South Carolina than they had in other games. The Tigers gave up only 57 yards rushing, which is big for a defense that knows that opposing teams are trying to attack them. Unfortunately, the Tigers can expect the same thing from Florida this weekend, as they will have Emory Jones running around in the pocket and a trio of running backs looking to wear down the defensive front.
But this game against the Gators just feels different, as Missouri looks like the team with the momentum, coming off a nice performance, while Florida struggled with Samford. Also, there is so much noise in Gainesville right now that it almost feels like the perfect setup for Missouri, as they look to take advantage of a wounded Gators roster. Even if this game were being played in Florida, I’d still feel like Missouri had the upper hand, mostly because of the rushing attack with Tyler Badie. I also don’t trust this Dan Mullen-led team right now.
When asked about making a bowl game, Eli Drinkwitz made a point of saying that a bowl game is the main goal. Knowing Drinkwitz, he’ll find a way to make life difficult for a struggling Gators defense, which could help them attain that sixth win and send them somewhere in December for bowl season.
“That’s the whole goal right now. That’s the whole goal. We’ve got seniors that deserve an opportunity to go. We’re going to have to rally together and find a way to play better and get better this week.
“And we’re going to do that.”