The Gators remain alive in the SEC East race after defeating the Vanderbilt Commodores 34-10 in tonight's game. This is the first time the Gators have won consecutive games since their wins against Eastern Michigan and Kentucky in September of this season.
My concern after the Georgia game was if the Gators would be able to win games by throwing the ball, as they only threw it six times against the Bulldogs. Against Vanderbilt, freshman quarterback Treon Harris was let off the leash and allowed to throw. He completed 15 of his 21 pass attempts for 215 yards but no touchdowns. Harris's longest pass of the day was a 60-yard bomb to senior wide receiver Quinton Dunbar that set up a touchdown.
In addition to showcasing his arm strength, Harris showed how deadly he could be on the ground as he rushed for 49 yards and two touchdowns. It's safe to say that Harris has secured the job as the Gator starting quarterback. However, Jeff Driskel did get some action tonight in a rushing role. Jeff ran the ball four times for 10 yards and scored a touchdown on fourth down and goal. His lone pass attempt was an incomplete screen to Matt Jones.
After last week's dominating performance on the ground, Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor cooled off as they rushed for 82 and 55 yards, respectively. Kelvin Taylor was the only one of the two to score a touchdown.
I am happy that I get to mention how the receivers did tonight as they went virtually unused last week. Senior Quinton Dunbar led all receivers with 4 catches for 97 yards, a career-high in receiving yards for him.
The defense showed up for this game as they forced two fumbles and intercepted two passes for a total of FOUR turnovers! Out of these four, the most impressive turnover had to be Jalen Tabor's one-handed pick in the end zone. Vernon Hargreaves III, the leader of that secondary, also recorded an interception, tallied four tackles, and recovered a fumble. The Gator secondary had five pass breakups tonight.
The Gators who forced the two fumbles tonight were defensive lineman Dante Fowler Jr. and linebacker Antonio Morrison. Fowler Jr. had three tackles (0.5 tackles for loss) and Morrison had five tackles in the game. Four Gators (Marcus Maye, Duke Dawson, Neiron Ball, and Jonathan Bullard) led the team with six tackles a piece today.
In special teams, senior kicker Frankie Velez was on point as he nailed both of his attempts from 40 and 25 yards out. He was perfect in extra point attempts. Senior punter Kyle Christy continued to solidify his campaign for a Ray Guy Award as he punted five balls for 238 yards. He averaged 47.6 yards per kick with a long of 58 yards. He was able to put two punts inside the 20-yard line.
Now 5-3 (4-3 in SEC play), the Florida Gators return to The Swamp next Saturday to take on a struggling South Carolina (4-5, 2-5 in SEC play) team that has lost two straight games and is coming off a bye week. The Gators will need to win this game to keep their dreams of playing in the SEC Championship alive. Game time is 12 p.m.
Vanderbilt (3-7, 0-6 in SEC play) will enter their bye week before heading to Starkville to take on #1 and undefeated Mississippi State on November 22.
*All stats accredited to Gatorzone.com