Florida Football: Winners and Losers from the Week 10 Game vs. Missouri
It wasn't pretty but the Florida Gators were able to put another game in the win column on Saturday.
That's just kind of the way things have gone for Florida at times this season, and that's the way the team is built. With Will Muschamp's offensive philosophy this will be a Florida team that wins many more ugly games than blowouts.
Florida tried to come out with a more balanced offensive attack but struggled to move the ball on the SEC's sixth-best defense.
There were reoccurring issues with the offense and somewhat of a coming-out party for some younger players. Let's take a look at who came out on top and who needs to step up coming out of Florida's 14-7 win over the Missouri Tigers.
Winner: Mike Gillislee
Since having a career day against LSU, Mike Gillislee has struggled to perform at the level Gator fans had grown accustomed to this season.
Gillislee didn't surpass 100 total yards against Vanderbilt, South Carolina or Georgia but was able to play a big role in Florida's win on Saturday.
Gillislee didn't manage to surpass 100 yards rushing, his fourth straight game of under 100 rushing yards, but his 4.25 yard-per-carry average was better than it has been in a long time. Plus, he scored the game-winning touchdown on a 45-yard screen pass from Jeff Driskel.
The play of the game came just two plays after a Jon Halapio holding penalty negated a 43-yard touchdown pass from Driskel to Omarius Hines. Gillislee caught the pass around the line of scrimmage and behind solid blocking was able to find the end zone untouched.
Winner: Jonathan Bullard
The future on defense is bright for the Gators, and Jonathan Bullard is a big part of that.
Bullard has played well for a freshman this season, but Saturday was by far his best game as a Gator. Bullard finished the game with three tackles, one and a half for a loss, had three quarterback hurries and notched his first career sack while being credited for one-and-a-half sacks on the game.
Bullard was disruptive the entire game and was able to get consistent pressure on James Franklin.
This may be the best game of his young career, but it certainly won't be the last time Bullard's name finds its way to the right side of this list.
Loser: Brad Phillips
It's hard to replace a kicker who has been as solid for as long as Caleb Sturgis has been at Florida.
We live in a world where college kickers love missing big-time field goals and extra points; just look at how the Notre Dame-Pitt game ended this week.
But Caleb Sturgis won't be in Gainesville forever; he has just four games left as a Gator, and Florida must find his replacement.
Brad Phillips had a chance to ice the game on Saturday and show the coaching staff and Gator fans that he can be as reliable as his predecessor. Instead, Phillips missed a 24-yard field goal that Sturgis makes in his sleep.
The kick could have cost Florida the game, as Missouri was able to drive down the field and take a shot at tying the game before Josh Evan's interception sealed the victory.
Not a good start for what will be a heated kicking competition this offseason between Phillips and Austin Hardin.
Winner: Dante Fowler Jr.
When Dante Fowler flipped his commitment from FSU to Florida on national signing day it was a business decision. Fowler grew up a fan of Florida State and was committed to the school for over a year. But Fowler saw Florida's lack of depth and knew that he could make an impact immediately.
Fowler dedicated himself in the offseason and enrolled at Florida weighing 277 pounds, up from his 232 listing in high school.
Fowler has been able to maintain the speed and quickness that made him a highly touted recruit in high school, and it hasn't taken Fowler long to adjust to the college game.
Fowler had his best game as a Gator against Missouri, finishing the game with five tackles, two for a loss, one sack and was in the backfield seemingly all game.
With players like Lerentee McCray and Omar Hunter graduating and the future of Sharrif Floyd and Dominique Easley yet to be decided, Muschamp will count on Fowler and Jonathan Bullard to carry the defensive line in the near future.
Both Fowler and Bullard showed on Saturday that they are already up to the task.
Winner: The Defense
This is the best defense the Gators have had since they won the Sugar Bowl in 2009.
Florida's defense has been smothering opposing offense all season long but showed it can play a different type of defense and still be effective. Florida played a bend-but-don't-break style of defense against Missouri, and even though it allowed the second-most yards they have all season, Missouri only managed a single touchdown.
Florida is ranked fifth in the country in total defense, allowing just 286.9 yards per game. Despite giving up 335 yards to Missouri, it was able to pick James Franklin off four times and keep Missouri off the scoreboard in the second half.
Florida's defense was the reason Florida was able to move to 8-1, and it is the main reason Florida has had this successful of a season.
Loser: Jonotthan Harrison
The past two weeks it was the offensive tackles that were given the task of stopping two of the SEC's top pass-rushers.
This week Jonotthan Harrison drew the short straw and was the main offensive lineman responsible for keeping Sheldon Richardson in front of him.
Richardson finished the game with six tackles, one and a half for loss, and a forced fumble. It was also Richardson who drew the holding penalty that negated a long touchdown pass, but that wasn't Harrison.
In the first game after vowing that the offensive line would play better, Harrison struggled to keep Richardson in front of him. Nobody on the offensive line could get a push in the run game or give Driskel time to throw in pass protection.
This offensive line is as experienced as any unit on the team, and it should be playing better than it has all year.
Winner: Omarius Hines
At times during the year it can become easy to forget that Omarius Hines even plays for the Gators.
Then he has a game like he did on Saturday and you're left wondering why he isn't one of the focal points of the offense.
Other than the 43-yard would-be touchdown that has already been discussed, Hines finished the game with one carry for 36 yards and a touchdown, and he returned two kicks for 24 yards in the absence of Andre Debose.
His mix of size and speed can be a big mismatch for opposing defenses, and he is a player Florida can look to when trying to shake things up to get its offense going.
Loser: The Receivers
If you've read more than one of these "Winners and Losers" articles this season you might notice that the receiving corps seems to find their way on the "Loser" side almost every week.
Another week and another dismal performance from the receiving corps. Receivers caught just four passes for 23 yards and, other than being very good edge blockers, haven't done anything to write home about in a long time.
Florida's passing woes can be credited to a young quarterback or a porous offensive line, but a lot of the blame needs to go to the receivers who are either not getting open or dropping passes.
The receiving corps is littered with former 4- and 5-star recruits that just haven't panned out. The unit as a whole needs to look in the mirror and figure out a way to make more of an impact on Saturdays