The Florida Gators came into Saturday’s game against the Vanderbilt Commodores with a lot of unanswered questions. How’s the offense going to look with Luke Del Rio at quarterback? Is Malik Davis really Florida’s best option at running back and is Florida’s defense suspect? Most if not all of these questions were answered, and the Florida Gators came out on top against the Commodores. A lot of positives happened for Florida as they put up 38 points and 467 yards of total offense. Here are five takeaways from Florida win over Vanderbilt.
Florida’s rushing attack is their offense’s bread and butter
For the second week in a row, the Florida Gators run game dominated one of the top rushing defenses in the country. Malik Davis and Lamical Perine ran the show Saturday night as the Florida Gators were running right through the Vanderbilt defense. Everybody knew Florida would continue to run the ball, but the Vandy defense didn’t have an answer for the two running backs. It’s pretty clear that the Florida offense’s biggest strength is their running game. With Feleipe Franks back at quarterback, the running game must be successful if they want to take some pressure off their redshirt-freshman quarterback. The true freshman running back Davis has really shown out the past two weeks and could be a star in the making. Davis had 124 yards and two touchdowns on 17 carries against Vanderbilt.
The offensive line continues to improve on a weekly basis
After having an ugly performance in the season against Michigan, the Florida offensive line has rebounded nicely and has improved little by little every game. While Vanderbilt defense did apply some pressure on the quarterbacks, they were only able to get one sack in the entire game. The Florida offensive line did a nice job of keeping a clean pocket for the quarterback and creating holes for the running backs. Brett Heggie and T.J. McCoy might have had their best games this season as he pushed the line of scrimmage forward. If the Florida offensive line can give Feleipe Franks a clean pocket, you could see more deep balls to Tyrie Cleveland. You could also see more big runs from Malik Davis and Lamical Perine.
Chauncey Gardner is starting to become a big problem on defense
After having a great freshman season, Chauncey Gardner has become an issue for the Florida defense due to his poor tackling. The Outback Bowl MVP was expected to be a huge part of Florida’s defense but he has not lived up to the expectations. Gardner continues to get bullied while trying to make a tackle. He was ran over by a Vanderbilt player at least two times in the game and didn’t play a whole lot of coverage. He did play with a little more effort and tried to make a play but just couldn’t. If Gardner continues to have issues tackling, the Florida coaching staff might have to pull him for the game. He’s a great athlete with world class speed, but he needs to make tackles before someone replaces him. He must show up for LSU before he loses his starting job.
Florida needs to use the wildcat more often
Kadarius Toney is Florida’s most explosive offensive player and is very dangerous with the ball in his hands. Head coach Jim McElwain needs to get the ball in Toney’s hands as much as possible because of his playmaking ability. And one of the best ways to do that is by using running the wildcat. By running the wildcat, Toney takes the snap at quarterback and runs with Mark Thompson as his lead blocker. When Florida ran it, it worked and Toney had some solid plays. He had three carries for 22 yards in the wildcat and always seemed to find big holes. Toney didn’t do much at receiver as he only had one catch for five yards. Running more wildcats could help get more involved and take some pressure off Feleipe Franks.
Florida had its best offensive performance this season
For the first time this season, the Florida Gators had a nice tempo and moved the ball down field. It was easily their best offensive performance of the season. They did a great job running the ball and a pretty solid job throwing the ball. Luke Del Rio looked very comfortable to quarterback and the offense was constantly making plays. When Del Rio went down, Feleipe Franks came in and the Florida offense didn’t lose a step. They continued to pick up first down and look smooth with solid tempo. The running game really helped the quarterbacks out and made life easy for them. The Gators actually looked pretty good on offense and they are capable of continuing to play well if they continue to run the ball well and get the ball in their playmaker’s hands.