This game’s importance is at an all-time high and not many SEC fans realize it.
Florida is coming off of a devastating lost to their rival, Tennessee, and the Dores took a major step with their overtime victory against Western Kentucky.
The quarterbacks have quite a bit to prove this week. The Gators are still trying to figure out who their backup Austin Appleby really is and Vanderbilt’s Kyle Shurmur seems as confident as ever in this week’s preparation.
Both teams are trying to gain momentum going into the heart of their schedule, and if it’s anything like last year’s matchup, we are in for a down-to-the-wire type game.
SPREAD: Florida -10. OVER/UNDER: 40.5
IMPACT PLAYERS: (for more on impact players)
#7 RB Ralph Webb, Jr. – 94 att. 472 yds, 5 TDs
#14 QB Kyle Shurmur, So. – 58/105 614 yds, 3 TDs, 2 INTs
#20 LB/S Oren Burks, R-Jr – 19 total tackles, 1 INT, 1 forced fumble, 2 sacks
#12 QB Austin Appleby, R-Sr., – 25/44 326 yds, 3 TDs, 1 INT
#81 WR Antonio Callaway, S0., – 17 rec, 335 yds, 19.7 yds per catch, 2 TDs
#31 CB Jalen Tabor, Jr., – 7 tackles, 2 interceptions, 1 pass defection
Play ball control and get an early lead…
Vanderbilt can not play the way they did last week against WKU and expect to win. Coming from behind against the no. 1 team in the SEC in total defense is not a recipe for a victory, so it comes down to getting points on the board early. In four games this year, Vanderbilt has only scored 15 combined points in the first quarter. Building a lead early will help all facets of Derek Mason’s team.
If QB Kyle Shurmur can get on the same page with his receivers early, it will allow Vandy’s running game to move the ball the way they want. Derek Mason said on Tuesday that it wasn’t about Ralph Webb but more importantly the guys around him. Mason is spot on. The Dores had five receivers with 30 or more yards receiving last week. That trend has to continue for them to ink out a win.
It’s not going to be easy defensively. WKU showed some holes in this Vandy defense, picking them apart for almost 500 yards. Turnovers bailed them out in the end, as the Dores forced two fumbles and an interception.
Derek Mason’s defense has forced at least one turnover in all four games this season and Vandy leads the SEC with a +5 turnover margin. Force Florida to make mistakes, then capitalize. That’s how the Dores win on Saturday.
Down the field throws on offense, 3 & outs on D…
It will be interesting to see what Florida team shows up on Saturday. Is it going to be a Gator team that’s pissed off from their blown 21-3 lead they had against Tennessee? If so, Vandy better strap up.
Florida needs to come out of the gates and establish a running game. The Gators are one of six teams featuring three running backs with at least 160 rushing yards and one rushing touchdown. This will force the Vanderbilt defense adapt to stopping the run, which will then open up down field throws for QB Austin Appleby.
In Appleby’s first start last week, he had five passes that went for over 15 yards and two of those were over 30. Look for Florida to test Derek Mason’s defense the same way that Western Kentucky did last week. Big chunk plays.
The Gators have the no. 1 scoring defense in the SEC and no. 11 in the country. Disrupting Shurmur’s timing will be key, and if Florida can force some 3 & outs early on in this game, they will have the momentum to mount a lead that they won’t blow this week.