Florida goes on the road Saturday to take on fellow SEC East rival Vanderbilt. On paper this doesn’t seem to be much of a game. Vanderbilt is 2-6 this year, with its wins coming against Mississippi and Eastern Michigan. As bad as the Gator offense has been this year, Vanderbilt has been worse. In fact the Commodore offense ranks dead last in the SEC in scoring and total yards. To make matters worse, their most (perhaps only) explosive player, RB Warren Norman, is out for the season following wrist surgery. For comparison’s sake Vanderbilt lost to Georgia, the same team that the Gators just beat in OT, 43-0 less than a month ago. Florida leads the all-time series 32-9-2 and have won the last 19.
But we all know that football is not played on paper and that teams that overlook “weaker” opponents tend to get a rude awakening on Gameday (Hello Hurricanes!). Over-matchedVanderbilt teams have played the Gators tough at home in the recent past. A 1 point win during the Spurrier era when Florida was ranked #1 comes to mind along with an OT win during the Meyer era. If Florida reverts back to pre-Georgia form, we could be in store for an upset. The game will be played at 11:15am local time in “un-Florida” like weather, so one can wonder if that will affect the young Gators on the road.
Florida needs to win this game if they want to keep their dream of playing in a 3rd consecutive SEC Championship Game alive. For this reason I believe the Gators will not overlook the Commodores and will put forth a 60 minute effort in Nashville. That should be enough for them to come home with the W. If the Georgia game is a true indication that this team has managed to kick start its offense by 1) allowing Trey Burton to run the spread option and 2) no longer ask John Brantley to do what everyone knew he was not suited to do, then the Gators should continue to see some progress on offense. Florida was able to move the ball with relative ease against UGA last week, to the tune of 450 yards and 34 points. With another week of practicing the no huddle and the mending of several key players, namely RBs Mike Gillislee, Emmanuel Moody, WR Andre Debose and Jeff Demps, the outlook is even more promising. Florida will need to continue improving on offense if it has any hopes of beating South Carolina next Saturday in the Swamp.
Florida also needs to tighten up on defense. The “bend but don’t break” defense that started the year off rather stout has now tended to “break” more often than not, espcially most recently on 3rd down. Although the Gators have done a great job creating turnovers, relying on them cannot be a way to success, so D.C. Teryl Austin will need to get his group ready. Florida needs to do a better job stopping the run and winning 3rd downs. Simply put, the Florida defense is on the field for too long at times. Getting back DT Jaye Howard would be a huge boost, but at this point his presense on Saturday is uncertain.
This and That
- Florida is slowly getting healthier, as mentioned in the earlier passage. Having Gillislee, Moody, Rainey and Demps available in the backfiled will result in a match up nightmare for opposing D.C. . Jeff Demps has said his foot is slowly getting better, he still has pain when he cuts, but it is improving every week. He might be held back this week in order to further rest his nagging foot. Although I do not expect to see WR Andre Debose play on Saturday he has resumed limited practice following a nasty ankle turn 3 weeks ago. I think it’s more likely that he is kept for the S.C. game. The same goes for Jaye Howard.
- Sophomore WR Frankie Hammond’s role will continue to increase in the offense as a result of his improved play. Hammond has become a reliable target for Brantley and has shown the ability to make some nice catches and big plays. He is a candidate to break out down the stretch. For those who don’t know, Hammond was taken off scholarship this summer as a result of a DUI. He has paid his own way to remain at UF. He practiced hard during 2 a days and has done everything asked of him by the coaches. He is a good blocker on the perimeter and plays excellent on special teams. It’s good to see a guy make the most of a second chance.
- 4 star freshman safety Jonathan Dowling has been dismissed from the team. He is not expected to return and for all intents and purposes will never again play for Florida. He is the 3rd 4 star prospect from the much heralded class of 2010 to leave the team. In my opinion he will be missed, mostly next year, as he was a superb athlete, hard hitter and at a thin position.
Im starting a new prediction format. This will include 2 things, my personal prediction of the final score and the chances, expressed in a percentage, of each team winning, in my humblest of opinions of course.
Final Score: Florida 31 Vandy 10
Chances: 75% Florida win- 25% Vandy win
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Written by The Gator Great