Missouri vs. Florida: Tigers' Defense Proves It Can Hang in the SEC

T.J. McaloonContributorNovember 3, 2012

GAINESVILLE, FL - NOVEMBER 03:  Jordan Reed #11 of the Florida Gators is tackled by Will Ebner #32 of the Missouri Tigers during the game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on November 3, 2012 in Gainesville, Florida.  (Photo by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)
Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

There are no moral victories in sports. It’s either you win-or-lose and there’s no grey area. However, with that being said, the performance of the Missouri Tigers defense today against Florida is a step in the right direction for this program playing in its first season in the SEC. 

The Tigers today held Florida to two third down conversions on 13 attempts, 276 total yards, 106 passing yards and 14 points. 

Those three stats are well below Florida’s averages of 339.9 total yards per game, 143.6 passing yards per game and 27.5 points per game.

If its offense would have been able to play at the level of the defense then we more than likely would have seen a huge upset for Missouri on the road. 

Coming into today’s game, Florida’s offense wasn’t lighting the world on fire in the SEC, but they were still one of the top teams in rushing offense—averaging 196.3 yards per game—and points per game.

The Gators did gain 170 yards rushing today, close to its season average, however, if it wasn’t for one 36-yard touchdown run for Omarius Hines, then Florida would have been held to 62 yards less than its average. 

Through six SEC games the Tigers' defense has been very good against SEC offenses. 

Not including today’s game against Florida, but the Tigers rank in the top half of the conference in total yards per game, rushing defense yards per game, turnover margin and turnovers gained. 

On top of the Tigers ranking in the top half of those categories, they also rank in the Top 10 in the conference in points allowed per game and passing efficiency defense per game.

Plus, the Tigers have allowed only 10 points to Kentucky and 19 points to Vanderbilt. 

While the Tigers did allow 41 points to Georgia, 31 points to South Carolina and 42 points to Alabama, all of those games saw those teams get a bulk of its points in one quarter with Georgia scoring 17 points in the fourth, South Carolina scoring 21 points in the second and Alabama scoring 21 points in the first.

If you take away those three quarters, not only would the Tigers point differential be much closer, but they would have won its game against Georgia. 

The Tigers overall record may be disappointing as they’re 4-5 overall and 1-5 in the SEC, however, this defense has proven that if they can get some help from the offense then they will be able to contend against some of the division powers like Georgia, South Carolina and Florida.