Bylines are deceptive, Gator Nation.
The Vandy football team is also deceptive. This is a team that, for 22 years in a row, we have been able to defeat them. Most times we have done so by a large amount of points. This year is much more different and the game couldn’t be more important to the Gator football team. A winning record, a possible bowl game and just a little satisfaction for the Gator Nation are at stake. Let’s talk some football…
It is not your mother’s or grandmother’s Vanderbilt football team. Vandy comes to The Swamp with a 4-4 record and a win over Georgia (who we just lost to) and presents the ability to put a lot of points. They’ve scored at least 24 points in every game which contrasts to our ability to even reach the 20 point mark. The are fairly balanced running and passing the ball, but their starting QB, Austyn Carta-Samuels, is nursing a knee injury from their game against Georgia. There is a big drop if they go to their backup, but I’d expect Carta-Samuels to play. Their big weakness is their defense. They have given up 35 or more points four times this year and haven’t exactly played the same caliber of teams that we have. Keep in mind they’ve also had two weeks to prepare for this game. The head coach is James Franklin who is, like Muschamp, is in his third year and has completely turned around a program that for the majority of its existence was the SEC doormat in football. Not your father’s Vanderbilt football team either. James Franklin is a highly regarded coach who is rumored to be a candidate for the USC football job. Whether that is true, I’m not getting into here, but to have your name in the conversation while you are coaching Vandy says something about your ability to run a program. Vandy has been…a team we routinely beat by an average of 20 points. Vandy has been…a great team to play on Homecoming. Vandy has been…the week we could take off and not play as hard. Vandy has been…isn’t anymore. Too much is resting on this game for the Gators to consider what “has been”.
Pleasant surprise last week against Georgia…except we still lost. Our defense has been the one competitive group on the team this year, but we can’t afford an entire quarter off and get in such a hole. Vandy has the potential to put points on us fast like Georgia. Our defense has to step up immediately and make a statement today. Muschamp is going to have to do his best sales job and fire up a squad that is playing for the entire Gator Nation today on Homecoming. I have to admit that bowl fantasies are not part of my thinking these days. I really just want to see us playing well rounded football the remainder of the season. I’m tired of thinking about injuries and who our next playmaker will be. It has been ugly football, but a win is a win. We beat Vandy and then we look at the next game…and then the next game after that. Kelvin Taylor had a flash of brilliance last week. Even Tyler Murphy seemed to be used better than most games. Frankly, all our good fortunes last week started with the defense. I don’t see us winning without our defense setting the tone early and putting the offense in position to get points. We have to get early and often pressure on the QB, force turnovers, not turn the ball over ourselves and run the ball well…and we probably need a defensive or special teams score. Florida 23 Vanderbilt 14. I have high expectations for both Kelvin Taylor and Trey Burton. Will see how they live it to that today. Gametime is High Noon EST, 9am PST…it’s breakfast for the West Coast Gators and hopefully a good turnout at the Gator Clubs. Which is where you should be because a Victory for Homecoming is best served by Gators. ‘Nuff said.
- Florida Gators seek stronger start when they face Vandy (miamiherald.com)
- Is Florida in Danger of Missing Out on Bowl Season? (bleacherreport.com)
- Longtime doormat Vandy eyes a shot at Gators (nosebleedsectionreport.wordpress.com)
- Same old, same old? (andreu.blogs.gatorsports.com)
- Franklin hoping few tweaks, swagger helps Vandy (bigstory.ap.org)