The Florida Gators (5-1) will take on the Vanderbilt Commodores (0-6) this Saturday in Nashville, Tennessee. Despite the Commodores' abysmal record, don’t expect the Derek Mason led team to lay down and allow Florida to come out win an easy win.
Coming into the game, the Gators bring the fourth-best passing offense in the nation, courtesy of senior quarterback Kyle Trask. Trask ranks ninth in the country in passing yards (2,171) and first in passing touchdowns (28). Trask will be without his top receiving target in Kyle Pitts, as he will miss his second straight game with a broken nose/concussion.
This noon game will be another opportunity for Trask to pad his Heisman numbers and put on a show for voters. Trask will probably throw the ball in between 25-30 times and Dan Mullen will try to get Trask his four touchdown passes again to extend the streak to seven straight games of four-plus touchdowns through the air.
Last week against Arkansas, we saw a bevy of playmakers on the Gators' offense step up. Senior receiver Trevon Grimes led the way with six catches for 109 yards and 2 touchdowns. We also saw senior Kadarius Toney, freshman Xzavier Henderson, sophomore Keon Zipperer and other receivers step up and make plays for the Gators.
Expect more of the same from Dan Mullen’s offense this week. Fans might see a receiver have a big game like Grimes had this past week, but overall, the offense may look to spread the ball around and make sure that everyone on offense eats. I’d expect receiver Jacob Copeland to get some more targets this week against Vandy, as he’s had a quiet season to date.
I think this could be another big game for the running backs on the ground as well. This might be the game that Pierce runs for 100 yards on the ground as he comes off his season high of 69 yards rushing against Arkansas. Expect the Gators to rush for 200 yards again, as the offense will look to run the ball a lot in the third and fourth quarters to kill the clock.
Fans will be excited about the possibility to see a little more of Emory Jones in this upcoming game. Jones came in last week and threw for 29 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter. I predict that he'll come in and get 3-4 drives at the end of the game and will give Gator nation a glimpse into the future for the next couple of seasons.
I wouldn’t expect the starting offense to be on the field past the third quarter. Realistically, this Vanderbilt team hasn’t made the strides this season that their fans had hoped. This might be its worst defense in recent memory, giving up 443 yards per game to opposing offenses. Part of the blame can be put on the offense, though, only averaging 346 yards and 16.2 points per game.
Last week against Kentucky, the Commodores scored a couple late touchdowns to pull the game within three points. Freshman quarterback Ken Seals threw for 225 yards and two touchdowns in the game, which is pretty status quo for him.
Running back Keyon Henry-Brooks leads the way for the Commodores' offense with 374 yards on the ground with 4.4 yards per attempt and a couple of touchdowns. It was once believed at the beginning of the season that Henry-Brooks would split carries with fellow backs Ja’Veon Marlow and Jamauri Wakefield, but Henry-Brooks has become the bell cow back for the offense through the midway point.
Vandy will try to establish offense on the ground early in the game, but it doesn’t seem that it will be able to keep up with the Gators. Look for Ken Seals to make a couple of freshman mistakes in the second and third quarters to allow the Gators to take a commanding lead into the fourth.
This game will be a great opportunity for the Gators to experiment on defense. While the Gators won by 28 points last week, questions still linger on the defensive side of the ball. The Todd-Grantham-led defense still gives up too many big plays, and if the Gators want to contend for an SEC championship, they’ll have to shore some things up in the secondary.
Look for a lot of rotations in the secondary to see which groupings of defensive backs work the best. I’d expect cornerbacks Jaydon Hill and Chester Kimbrough to play extensive snaps, particularly towards the end of the game. Florida has about 10 guys who can roll in at any point in the secondary, and this is the perfect opportunity to see who’s going to play hard, fast and smart.
I also want to see some of the freshman and sophomore defensive players get some snaps late in the game. Freshman Princely Umanmielen has really impressed on the defensive line with a sack and a few QB hurries in limited action. Blue-chip linebackers Derek Wingo and Ty’Ron Hopper should get some burn on defense as well.
I see a comfortable Florida win, with no major issues maintaining a commanding lead throughout the game. Trask will once again throw for 300+ yards and four or more touchdowns and we’ll see Emory Jones enter the game somewhere in the third or fourth quarter. I’m expecting a dominating 59-24 win for the Gators and they’ll move to 6-1 on the season.
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