After two very bizarre weeks, the Florida Gators will be led by interim head coach Randy Shannon as they will try to knock off the Missouri Tigers. The Florida Gators have made major changes since last week. Jim McElwain is no longer the head coach and Randy Shannon has taken over on an interim basis. Defensive line coach Chris Rumph has been promoted to defensive coordinator as Shannon becomes interim head coach. Florida has also made a change at quarterback as graduate transfer Malik Zaire will get the start against the Tigers. Even with everything going on, the Gators are going up against a Missouri team that they should beat. Here are five keys for the Florida Gators to knock off the Missouri Tigers.
Let Malik Zaire run
Since the Jim McElwain era, the Florida Gators have had two backup quarterbacks in Treon Harris and Austin Appleby with the ability to run the ball. Even though they were dual threat QBs, the Florida coaching staff was hesitant to let them run since there wasn’t much behind them. In this game, Florida must let Zaire run. Zaire is a run first QB, but he also can throw a nice spiral. Restricting him to just airing it out will only cause more problems for the offense. The Florida coaching staff should run more options plays and try to stretch out the Missouri defense. The Missouri Tigers have one of the worst defenses in the SEC and Florida could make some nice plays with the ball in Zaire’s hands.
Put pressure on Drew Lock
Drew Lock is the quarterback of the Missouri Tigers and is one of the best quarterbacks in the SEC. He has had a very good season and been surrounded by good talent, such as receiver like J’Mon Moore. The Gators are going to need a great defensive performance. They should attempt more blitzes, to try to get to the quarterback. Lock has thrown for a lot of yards and touchdown but he also has nine interceptions this season. The Florida secondary is very young but they are also very talented. If Cece Jefferson, Taven Bryan and other could get to the quarterback quickly, Lock won’t be able to get comfortable in the pocket and the Florida secondary will have some opportunities of creating turnovers.
Be creative on offense
One of the biggest issues for the Florida offense has been the lack of creativity. The Gators have some really talented players that can make big things happen with the ball in their hands. One thing Florida should try is have Lamical Perine and Kadarius Toney both in the backfield. Try some design runs with Toney in the backfield as see what he could do in space. Also, try a halfback screen with him in the backfield and pull two or three offensive lineman to block for him. If Florida could get Toney in space with blockers, you are talking about a very explosive play. Find different ways to get big plays because nothing has really worked for the Florida offense so why not try something new.
Have to air it out
Florida Gators has to have one of the worst passing attack in the SEC. Feleipe Franks has not played well at all and has been replaced twice so far. With Malik Zaire at quarterback, the Gators must also beat the Tigers through the air. The Missouri defense is very bad and their biggest weaknesses is pass coverage. Zaire isn’t the best passer in the SEC but Missouri’s secondary should so bad that they make Zaire look good. Tyrie Cleveland and Kadarius Toney are two very talented receivers and they should get the ball constantly against the Tigers. Missouri might not have an answer for either one of them. If Zaire throws 30 times and he can’t get over 200 passing yards, the Florida Gators have a ton of issues in the passing game. If it wasn’t for Perine and Davis, Florida might have one or two wins this season.
Just have fun
Let’s face it. This season did not turn out as well as most expect. The three peat is dead, the Feleipe Franks project doesn’t look promising and McElwain is gone. For once this season, just have some fun out there and play loose. Right now, Florida is only playing for a bowl game and Florida will probably end up in the Birmingham Bowl against some small D1 school if Florida even makes a bowl game. The Gators do not look like they are enjoying this season so why not doing it now. You really aren’t playing for anything except getting your seniors one more bowl to end their collegiate careers on a high note. Randy Shannon has brought some life and energy to this team this week in practice. Let’s call some tricks plays just to have fun. If Florida plays loose, they might surprise everybody.