Offense continues to struggle in loss to Florida

Missouri lost its fourth straight game and first at home.
Missouri defensive back Khalil Oliver breaks up a pass from Florida's Kyle Trask to tight end Kyle Pitts in the end zone. The Tigers dropped their first home game of the season 6-23 against the Gators. Photo by Andrew Moore

It looked like the Missouri defense had another game-changing takeaway on Faurot Field.

In the third quarter with the Tigers trailing by seven, Kyle Trask lofted a pass toward the Missouri sideline when safety Khalil Oliver wrestled for the ball with Florida receiver Kyle Pitts.

Oliver came up with the ball, but the officials ruled it a catch by Pitts. The play stood upon review and Florida scored a touchdown three plays later.

“They saw it differently than I did,” coach Barry Odom said. “I never thought the receiver had complete control of the ball.”

Even if the review had gone in the Tigers’ favor, Missouri (5-5, 2-4 SEC) struggled offensively and didn’t find the endzone in its 23-6 loss to No. 11 Florida (9-2, 6-2 SEC).

Kelly Bryant completed 25 passes for 204 yards and one interception. The running backs combined to rush for 33 yards.

“I think we kinda shot ourselves in the foot sometimes,” wide receiver Barrett Banister said. “We had some penalties that you can’t do against teams like that and come out on top. I thought we got some plays going and got in the right direction but at the end of the day just didn’t get the job done.”

Penalties cost Missouri on multiple drives. A personal foul against tight end Albert Okwuegbunam on Missouri’s first drive of the third quarter offset a late-hit by Florida that would have given the Tigers a first down.

Instead, Florida’s offense responded following a Missouri punt. It marched into the end zone on a three-play drive, going 60 yards in 1:06.

The teams then traded punts, but Missouri had a chance to capitalize after starting at the Florida 46-yard line. Bryant took the Tigers to the 11 but an intentional grounding penalty on first down doomed the drive and the Tigers came away with only three points.

After Oliver’s near interception and Florida’s ensuing touchdown, the offense continued to falter and Florida tacked on another field goal to make it 23-6.

Missouri’s defensive line kept the game close in the first half.

Junior Kobie Whiteside sacked Trask twice in the first two drives of the game. Jordan Elliot and Tre Williams also tallied one sack a piece for the Tigers. Missouri held Florida to six points and 29 yards rushing before the break.

“The defense always gonna play hard no matter what,” Whiteside said. “That’s the whole team in general. We’re not gonna give up on anything. No matter what the score is we’re gonna play as hard as possible.”

Even when the defense dominated, Bryant and company couldn’t capitalize. The lone points of the first half came from Tucker McCann, who kicked a 37-yard field goal off the left upright and through.

Elliot doesn’t feel frustrated by the lack of production on offense but as an opportunity for the defense to make plays.

“We’re a family,” Elliot said. “Each game, lose or win, we always gonna stay together no matter what. That’s one thing about this team that’s different than other teams that I’ve been around. Through adversity, that’s what makes us closer.”

Missouri hosts Tennessee (5-5, 3-3 SEC) next week for senior night at 6:30 p.m. CST at Memorial Stadium.

Edited by Emily Leiker | eleiker@themaneater.com

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