Mizzou football: It’s weird to play at The Swamp, because ‘it’s so quiet in there’
At SEC Media Days this offseason, Florida defensive lineman Cece Jefferson made headlines when he said how weird it was to play at Mizzou, citing the weather and the fan base’s seemingly indifferent attitude about the Tigers.
That was certainly a strange comment after the Gators were blown out 45-16 at Faurot Field, and it’s clear the Tigers didn’t forget it. On Saturday, the Tigers took their show on the road, heading down to The Swamp and picking up a 38-17 victory over the No. 11 team in the country.
This time, it was The Swamp that was quiet, and you could have turned these comments around and attributed them to a Mizzou player and it would have made sense:
I asked Florida defensive lineman Cece Jefferson what he remembered about #Mizzou last year that made them so tough to defend (Missouri won 45-16).
Bashing their fans wasn’t quite the kind of answer I was expecting, but wow. pic.twitter.com/mRJviphkOk
— Bennett Durando (@BennettDurando) July 17, 2018
Maybe all that quietness at The Swamp got in Jefferson’s head, as he and the supposedly prolific Gator defense struggled all day. Mizzou quarterback Drew Lock, who had only thrown for one touchdown against SEC opponents this year, threw for three. That pushed him past both Tim Tebow and Chris Leak on the SEC’s all-time touchdown list in front of the Florida fans.
It wasn’t just the Tigers passing game that got going, though. They also ran for 221 yards, led by Damarea Crockett’s 114-yard effort. The Mizzou offense dictated the pace of the game, controlling the line of scrimmage against Jefferson and the Florida defensive linemen.
With Mizzou leading 21-10 at halftime and 35-17 at the end of the third quarter, Gator fans were out of it early, causing the stadium to be eerily quiet for most of the game. The offense’s struggles didn’t do anything to help Gator fans’ morale, as QB Feleipe Franks was 9-of-22 for a measly 84 yards. Franks earned himself plenty of boos from those in attendance at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium during the game.
In fact, the loudest the stadium ever got was when backup Kyle Trask entered the game and completed his first pass. He then led the Gators on a touchdown drive, finding WR Josh Hammond in the end zone.
It was too little, too late as the Tigers already had the game locked away (and I don’t say that lightly, considering what happened vs. Kentucky the previous weekend). By the time the clock reached all zeros, The Swamp was pretty empty.
It was a great win for the Tigers, especially coming off last week’s heartbreaking letdown against Kentucky. Mizzou improved to 5-4, but with better coaching it’s not hard to imagine this as a 7-2 squad, as the Tigers let the Kentucky and South Carolina games slip away in embarrassing fashion.
For now, though, an 8-4 regular season is still a real possibility, as Mizzou hosts Vanderbilt and Arkansas and travels to Tennessee over the next three weeks. First things first — the Tigers need to focus on locking up bowl eligibility with win No. 6, and that should theoretically come at home against a struggling Vanderbilt squad next weekend.
From there, it’ll be about keeping Lock in a rhythm and working star WR Emanuel Hall (who had four catches for 77 yards and a touchdown against Florida) back into the mix after his return from injury. Meanwhile, the running game and defense will continue chugging along down the stretch.
Again, those losses to Kentucky and South Carolina put a damper on this season, but some big goals are still attainable. It’s up to coach Barry Odom and his staff to make sure the team is in a position to reach those goals.