By Russell Lorentz of Vandy Insider
Vanderbilt Game Preview:
Vanderbilt Commodores (3-1) vs. #21 Florida Gators (2-1)
Line: Florida -9
When: Saturday, Sept. 30th, 11 a.m., ESPN
Site: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium at Steve Spurrier Field – Gainesville, Fla.
What to Watch For:
Vandy is coming off a 59-0 drumming at the hands of Alabama, as Derek Mason’s stingy defense was exposed. The ‘Dores look to bounce back against the Gators in Gainesville.
Luke Del Rio will start for the Gators at quarterback. That proves there still is somewhat of a revolving door at the position ever since Head Coach Jim McElwain was hired, despite bringing in Notre Dame graduate-transfer Malik Zaire in attempt to solve these woes.
The Gators have played exactly three quarterbacks: Zaire, paired with redshirt freshman Felipe Franks, and the veteran Del Rio. Del Rio has appeared in nine games for the Gators after transferring from Alabama.
The Gators will still be without their two offensive stars: wide receiver Antonio Callaway and running back Jordan Scarlett – the two suspended Gators are out indefinitely with what appears to be felony charges for “misusing school funds.”
A total of nine Gators are suspended with a combined 62 felony charges.
Vanderbilt could very well have more than a puncher’s chance of defeating the Gators on the road, as the Gators offense is notorious for its lack of point production, even with Callaway and Scarlett on the field.
Last week, Del Rio led a late rally that beat Kentucky in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, solidifying himself as the starter for the matchup with the Commodores.
However, the Commodore defense looks to respond in a big way in the Swamp on Saturday.
The last two matchups between the two have been decided by a single possession, but Vanderbilt’s offense looks more consistent than past teams. The early season matchup looks to be pivotal in the SEC East race.
What Vanderbilt Must Do:
- Derek Mason issued a challenge to the offensive line in his weekly press conference challenging their grit, as Vanderbilt looks to get the running game revved up. Despite three touchdowns (1 receiving, two rushing) Senior Ralph Webb is looking to break through after just 169 yards in four games. Webb returns home to Gainesville for his final trip to the Swamp.
- Vanderbilt must stay ahead of schedule on offense. One thing Florida always does, is play good defense from year-to-year. Vanderbilt must create manageable down-and-distance as much as possible throughout the ball game.
- Start Fast. Vanderbilt must start fast on offense and build a lead for its defense against an up-and-down offense like Florida.
- Respond Defensively. Vanderbilt should come out blazing, as the defense should not need motivation after the performance against Alabama.
- Win the field position battle. Make the Gator offense work for points, because points should be at a premium if Vanderbilt responds accordingly.