After another nail-biting win over the Kentucky Wildcats, the Florida Gators are back home to host the Vanderbilt Commodores. Vanderbilt is coming off a very tough 59-0 loss to the No. 1 Alabama Crimson Tide. One of the biggest news stories going into this match-up is the Florida Gators making a change at the quarterback position. Redshirt-junior Luke Del Rio was named the starting quarterback on Monday after leading the Gators to victory in the second half of the Kentucky game. This isn’t a game that usually gets a lot of hype but this is usually a pretty competitive game. Vanderbilt has always given the Gators a tough time whenever they play each other. Here is the preview of the Vanderbilt-Florida game.
After getting their tails kicked by the Crimson Tide, Vanderbilt will come into this game motivated and angry after such an embarrassing loss last weekend. The Vanderbilt payer to always watch for in this game is Ralph Webb. Vanderbilt’s all-time leading rusher grew up in Gainesville but Will Muschamp wasn’t interested in the hometown kid. Webb has always been a little more motivated for this game and has always rushed for over 100 yards. While Webb is having an off season, Vandy’s quarterback Kyle Shurmur has picked up the slack. The junior quarterback has had a really nice season as he has eight touchdowns and only one interception. Shurmur is known for his accuracy and being smart with the football. Vanderbilt’s biggest issue on offense is the offensive line. Outside of the tackles, there are a bunch of question marks on that line.
While the offense hasn’t been great, the Vanderbilt defense has surely picked up the slack. Vanderbilt’s offense might not explosive but their defense is well-coached and well disciplined. The Commodores defense doesn’t make many mistakes making the opponent’s offense really earn those yards. Life after Zach Cunningham doesn’t seem to be as bad as most would have thought but with a coach like Derek Mason, the defense should always be in good hands. With a new quarterback on Florida’s offense, they have to try to shut down the run game and force Luke Del Rio to beat them with his arm. Making Florida one dimensional should be key for this Vanderbilt defense if they want to win.
Now that Luke Del Rio is in at quarterback, a lot might change on Florida’s offense. One of the first things the Florida coaching staff should do is open up the playbook. Del Rio is one of the smartest quarterbacks in the SEC and nobody knows the playbook better than him. With a tough Vandy defense coming in, you have to surprise them with a lot of different schemes they haven’t seen on film. Outside of quarterback play, the running game has been in talks after a great performance against Kentucky. True freshman Malik Davis has emerged as one of Florida’s most explosive offensive weapons. Davis had 21 carries for 93 yards last week and should get the same workload he did last weekend. Tyrie Cleveland and Kadarius Toney also need to get more touches as they’re Florida’s best offensive players.
In the past few years, Florida has been known to have one of the most elite defenses in the country but that might not be the case anymore. The Florida defense has taken a step back from last year with all the starters leaving and depth issues. The strongest unit on the Florida defense is the front seven. The defensive line has created a lot of problems for offense has they get to the quarterback quickly and force bad passes. The starting linebackers are talented but there is a depth issue at linebacker with injuries and suspensions. Vosean Joseph being back helps but an injured Kylan Johnson really makes this linebacker unit thin. The secondary also needs to make a lot of adjustments. Chauncey Gardner really needs to start tackling before he gets benched and replaced by a freshman. If Gardner can’t tackle, Shawn Davis could steal his job.
5 Players to Watch: Vanderbilt Commodores
- RB Ralph Webb
- CB Joejuan Williams
- QB Kyle Shurmur
- WR Trent Sheffield
- LB Charles Wright
5 Players to Watch: Florida Gators
- WR Kadarius Toney
- DE Cece Jefferson
- RB Malik Davis
- DE Jabari Zuniga
- LB David Reese
- Malik Davis gets a rushing touchdown.
- Ralph Webb rushes for 70+ yards.
- Florida’s offense rushes for over 150 yards.
- Vanderbilt defense forces one turnover.
- Florida beats Vanderbilt 20-13