Florida football has one more Southeastern Conference game on its schedule. And, it’s one with all the makings of a stumbling block for the Gators.
Saturday presents a perfect opportunity for Florida football.
An opportunity to get over its Missouri hump.
The Gators are 3-5 against Missouri — including last season’s 38-17 loss at Gainesville — and they have won just once in Columbia.
So, while Florida football has a chance to close out the SEC campaign strong, Saturday’s game at Missouri also constitutes a huge trap for the Gators.
With that, here are five Missouri players to watch Saturday against No. 11 Florida football.
Whoever plays quarterback
Graduate transfer Kelly Bryant has been the stalwart under center for Missouri. However, Bryant missed last week’s game at Georgia with a sore hamstring he suffered against Kentucky.
The Tigers should pray it’s Bryant at quarterback as he accounts for all 14 passing touchdowns this season.
Last week, against the Bulldogs, backup quarterback Taylor Powell was 10-for-22 for just 84 yards.
Bryant is currently listed as probable for Saturday’s game with Florida football.
Larry Rountree III, running back
Mizzou running back Larry Rountree III has been the most stable running back for the Tigers this season.
In nine games, he has 668 net yards on 139 attempts, averaging 4.8 yards per carry and 74.2 yards per game. He also has eight touchdowns to his tally.
But, the running game for Missouri struggles mightily against good defenses.
Last week, against No. 6 Georgia, Missouri managed just 50 yards on the ground. The week before, against Kentucky, they had just 125 yards rushing. In both games, the Tigers weren’t able to score a rushing touchdown.
Florida football will likely be the best defense the Tigers have faced outside of Georgia, so it could be interesting to see if Rountree will be able to establish any kind of a rushing attack, especially depending on who starts at quarterback.
But, Rountree III is listed as questionable against Florida football Saturday with a toe injury.
Nick Bolton, linebacker
Now, I know linebackers are traditionally the leading tacklers for teams just because of position, but with Missouri linebacker Nick Bolton, it is a bit ridiculous.
Bolton has amassed 82 tackles this season. That’s not the big point. The big point is the fact the next leading tackler for Missouri only has 43.
So, Bolton is everywhere all the time.
He also has nine tackles for loss, a sack, two interceptions, four pass breakups and two quarterback hurries.
Bolton anchors the fourth-best defense against the pass nationally and is also fourth nationally in pass efficiency defense. That defense held Georgia quarterback Jake Fromm to his worst completion percentage (44.8) last weekend and Bolton was a big reason for it.
Jordan Elliott, defensive tackle
Mizzou defensive tackle Jordan Elliott has quietly started to put together a solid season that the Missouri sports information department believes could garner him All-SEC consideration.
They have gone so far as to compare him to fellow defensive tackle Sheldon Richardson.
This season, Elliott has eight — count them, eight — tackles for loss from his position. He had five tackles against Vanderbilt and six against Kentucky.
Couple those with the four tackles against Georgia and he has 15 over three games from the defensive tackle position. That’s impressive.
His ability is getting the first move on the offensive lineman across from him. He oftentimes draws double coverage at the line of scrimmage, which is dangerous as it allows linebackers like Bolton the ability to rush the passer or close down the run quickly.
Elliott spells trouble for the Florida football offensive line.
Albert Okwuegbunam, tight end
If for no other reason to put him on the list, spelling his last name— Okwuegbunam — should be enough.
But, junior tight end and mid-season All-American Albert Okwuegbunam is averaging a touchdown ever 4.08 receptions and has 23 touchdowns in just 31 games.
And here we Florida football fans thought Kyle Pitts could be dangerous.
Okweugbunam has 22 receptions this season and six of those have been for touchdowns. He, like Pitts, creates big mismatches with opposing secondaries and can power downfield for extra yardage after the catch.
He is used a lot in short-yardage passing situations, but that doesn’t mean he can’t pull down extra yardage if you miss a tackle.
Remember, Florida football will kick-off in Columbia at noon Saturday against Missouri.