Wednesday, October 5, 2016

UF Football: #23 Florida Escapes Against Vanderbilt

The No. 23 Florida Gators (4-1, 2-1 SEC) barely escaped with a 13-6 victory over the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-3, 0-2 SEC) in Nashville this past weekend.

Jordan Scarlett was the only Gator who got into the end zone this game. He was the lead running back the entire game as he rushed 12 times for 55 yards and the only touchdown of the contest. Many are saying that he should be the main back in Florida's offense and I agree.

Scarlett is a beast and should be fed the ball between 15 and 20 times a game. All this running back by committee nonsense needs to stop. If there was any competition for the No. 1 back, Scarlett has more than proved that he is the main guy.

Besides Scarlett's touchdown, there is not much more about to say regarding a Gator offense that amassed 236 total yards against Vandy. The tight ends continued to be a big part of the offense as DeAndre Goolsby led all Florida receivers with eight catches for 37 yards. His counterpart C'yontai Lewis hauled in just two passes for 39 yards. Star receiver Antonio Callaway was a non-factor in the game as he registered just three catches for 36 yards.

In terms of quarterback play, this is hopefully the last time the Gator Faithful have to see Austin Appleby as the starting quarterback. He did not play bad by any means, completing 19 of 28 passes for 144 yards, but the offense has no spark with him under center. His protection from the offensive line was pretty decent as well last Saturday as Vandy only sacked him twice.

As per usual during my time here, the defense won this game for Florida. They gave up 265 total yards but did a good job holding Vandy to just two field goals. Senior Jarrad Davis led the way as he notched a career-high 15 tackles with three pass breakups.

Behind Davis, senior safety Marcus Maye had seven tackles and a pass breakup, redshirt junior linebacker Alex Anzalone recorded six tackles and a pass breakup, and junior Duke Dawson rounds out the tackling dignitaries with five wrap ups and a pass breakup.

Florida sacked Vandy quarterback Kyle Shurmur twice. The perpetrators were Quincy Wilson and Jabari Zuniga.

In the secondary, two Gators had interceptions. Jalen Tabor picked off a pass in the red zone during the first quarter while Nick Washington had the game-sealing interception off a Jarrad Davis deflection in the last minute of the fourth quarter. Tabor's interception was his third of the season while Washington's was his first of the season as well as his career.

Special Teams
The special teams unit was vital in this game. Eddy Pineiro was flawless on both of his field goals as he drilled a 42-yarder at the half and a 26-yarder in the fourth. He nailed his only extra point attempt of the game.

In the punting realm, Johnny Townsend did a great job setting Vandy up with poor field position. The redshirt junior punted seven times and pinned the Commodores within their only 20-yard line five times. He averaged 51.9 yards per punt with five of them going over 50 yards. His longest punt of the day was 62 yards.

In the return game, nothing happened. Callaway totaled -4 yards on two punt returns and Lamical Perine took a kickoff return 29 yards to start the game.

Final Takeaway
This was a tough game to watch. I am not kidding you. It is hard to get up and watch Florida play Vandy in the sport of football, especially if it's not in The Swamp. The offense looked anemic and the defense gave up a few big runs, but at the end of the day it is a win.

After finishing 1-1 in the state of Tennessee, Florida returns back home to face an LSU team (3-2, 2-1 SEC) without Les Miles for the first time since 2004. Even with Leonard Fournette's playing status in question, I am still hesitant to pick the Gators due to the fact that the Tigers have beaten them in the last three years.

If Luke Del Rio is able to go this week, however, then I do like Florida's chances to win this football game.

Kickoff is at noon. This highly anticipated SEC matchup can be seen on ESPN and heard on the Gator IMG Sports Network.

As for Vandy, they head to Lexington to take on the Kentucky Wildcats (2-3, 1-2 SEC) in a battle between mediocre SEC east foes. I'm picking the Commodores in this one. Kickoff is set for 4 p.m. and it can be seen on the SEC Network.

*All stats accredited to



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