After getting completely rolled over by Alabama, the Vanderbilt Commodores try to lick their wounds before entering the Swamp versus the 21st-ranked Florida Gators. Game time from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium is set for noon EST, with the game scheduled to air on ESPN.
Florida is coming off two miraculous wins that came down to the final play. After beating Tennessee with a Hail Mary pass, the Gators beat Kentucky for the 31st consecutive time after a Wildcat field goal attempt fell short.
After such incredible futility on offense, Florida may’ve found a little juice last weekend. They have the young playmakers like sophomore WR Tyrie Cleveland, do-everything freshman Kadarius Toney, and freshman RB Malik Davis to break games open. Luke Del Rio certainly isn’t going to wow you from the quarterback position, but he managed the pieces well against the Wildcats.
Their defense has taken a small step back due to many graduates, early NFL draftees, and key injuries. But they’re still stronger on that side than most of the SEC teams, and that’s saying something.
For Vanderbilt, they were having an encouraging season, including a win over Kansas State, before the bashing Bama gave them. They’re not much of an offensive team, with only 14 points in their last two games. But their defense—when not playing the Tide—have shown they do well against the pass.
Stopping the running game that Florida has finally started to develop will be the biggest key, as they’ve been run all over the past two weeks.
They’ll come into the Swamp as 10.5-point underdogs.
Vanderbilt shouldn’t be expected to come into the Swamp and win. They’ve only beaten Florida once out of the last 26 times they’ve played them. But Derrick Mason’s squad is still talented, and Florida’s has still yet to show they can move the ball for four quarters.
That could call for a close game, one that’ll remain a low-scoring trench-battle like the game these two played last year. The new wildcat formation the Gators have set up will likely overcome Vanderbilt eventually because of the Commodores inconsistencies against the run. But expect it to be very tight for a lot longer than expected.
Del Rio will have the reins again, not Feleipe Franks, who was the hero against Tennessee. Del Rio has the mind of a coach’s son (Jack Del Rio is the Oakland Raiders head coach), with his vision of the field improving. But he doesn’t possess elite arm strength or much mobility. He won’t light up the stat sheet, and that’ll allow Vanderbilt to focus more on the run. But he will likely make enough intermediate passes to keep a crucial drive going.
The leg of Eddy Peneiro will get a work out for Florida, as the field goal unit may be the difference in the end.
That’s because, on top of the offensive woes coming out of Gainesville, Vanderbilt hasn’t been continuing many drives either. They have only a 2.6-yard average from running back Ralph Webb. After being a 1,000-yard back the last two years, he and the offensive line have yet to get the wheels churning on the run game.
Webb always plays with a chip on his shoulder against the Gators, being passed over by his hometown Gators during his recruiting. He’ll play better than he has the last two weeks, but how much is a mystery.
Trusting Kyle Shurmur to throw the rock around on a still very good secondary is playing with fire. But he does have enough talent to try.
Vanderbilt has covered six of its last seven trips to Gainesville, and Florida would be on an 0-6 run ATS if it weren’t for the Hail Mary. Expect this to be the tale of two malignant offenses, and for the game to remain close simply over lack of points.