Florida will seek a payback victory when it hosts Missouri in a Southeastern Conference game Saturday.
The Gators will try to avenge their 24-23 overtime loss to Tigers last year at Columbia, Mo., when the teams square off at Gainesville, Fla, this week.
“The guys that we’ve got, we’re a different team,” Florida defensive lineman Tyreak Sapp said. “We’re a better team. I know we can take the right progressions in order to come out victorious in that game. We’re just going to work towards that this week.”
The Gators (3-2, 0-2) are coming off a 52-17 victory over Eastern Washington on Sunday. That game was delayed one day due to Hurricane Ian, leaving Florida with a shorter preparation week for Missouri (2-3, 0-2).
First-year Florida coach Billy Napier grew accustomed to such scheduling quirks in his previous job.
“One of the valuable things about the experience at Louisiana, we played about every turnaround possible,” he said. “Last year we had two five-day turnarounds, we had six, we had eight, we had 17 one time.”
Missouri staged an upset bid against then-No. 1 Georgia last week before losing 26-22.
“They’ve got some weapons. They’ve got some guys that can do some damage,” Sapp said of Missouri. “We’re going to make sure we take all the steps that are needed to be made to actually go out there and play against that team.”
Missouri played stout defense against Georgia until it wore down late, and the Tigers will need another strong performance to contain the Florida offense.
“They’re very big and physical up front with their offensive line,” Missouri coach Eli Drinkwitz said. “They’ve got a tremendously talented running back room. So it’ll be a very difficult challenge.”
Gators quarterback Anthony Richardson has thrown for 693 yards, with four touchdowns and two interceptions, in his last two games. He also has rushed 18 times for 107 yards and two TDs.
“If you don’t hit him in the mid-sternum to the thighs, you’re not going to get him down,” Drinkwitz said. “Very big, physical player, whether that’s a free runner on a sack or in the run game. You’ve really got to run your feet through the tackle.”
Florida has used a rotation of three running backs: Montrell Johnson Jr. (282 yards, four touchdowns), Trevor Etienne (223 yards, two TDs) and Nay’Quan Wright (153 yards, two TDs).
Missouri features a running back tandem of Nathaniel Peat (262 yards, one TD) and Cody Schrader (263, three TDs). First-year starting quarterback Brady Cook (88 of 140, 992 yards, five TDs) has a speedy receiving corps. But the Tigers might be missing their top receiver, Dominic Lovett (27 catches, 460 yards, two TDs).
“It’s a lower leg injury,” Drinkwitz said. “He is day-to-day. … I think right now it’s probably 50-50.”
–Field Level Media