Gainesville, FL – On paper, the Gators should run away with an easy win on Saturday afternoon. Following a disappointing loss in Jacksonville a week ago, Florida will have the opportunity to take their frustrations out on a Commodores team that enters the game as a 26-point underdog. The Gators certainly have the talent to blow the ‘Dores out of The Swamp but much of that will be determined by Florida’s mental preparation.
Todd Grantham and the Gators’ defense have looked unstoppable this season when facing average or worse quarterbacks. On Saturday, the much-maligned — at least since last Saturday — unit will face the epitome of mediocrity, in quarterback Riley Neal. On the season, Neal has completed 109 of 186 passes for 1,193 yards, six touchdowns, and four interceptions. Forgive me for beating a dead horse when I say this but, I expect Grantham to send the house at Neal early and often.
As a unit, the Gators defense has allowed 328.2 yards per game this season, 11.1 yards more than the Commodores per game offensive output. It should be noted, however, that Florida has faced some of the nation’s best offenses over the past five weeks. The Commodores’ offense will seem pretty light in comparison.
Vanderbilt is not without playmakers though. Kalija Lipscomb and Ke’Shawn Vaughn gave the Gators fits last season in a game that ended up being a come from behind victory for Florida. Lipscomb, a senior wideout, had four receptions for 64 yards and added another 15 on the ground in last year’s meeting. Vaughn, on the other hand, was a matchup nightmare for the Gators, as he recorded 56 yards on seven carries and took his lone reception 75 yards for a touchdown.
On the opposite side of the ball, Kyle Trask should have a career day versus a Vanderbilt defense that has given up over 250 yards per game through the air. If the Gators were ever going to have a solid rushing performance this season, this would be the game to do so. Vandy is allowing an abysmal 202.5 yards per game on the ground. If Florida’s offensive line can generate any kind of push against the Commodores, it will be a very long day for Derek Mason.
The bottom line is this, Vanderbilt isn’t very good on either side of the ball this season. They average just 17 points per game offensively while the defense has been consistently awful, giving up an average of 32.4 points per game and 453.6 yards per game to opposing offenses.
The Gators need to forget about what could have been and focus on what remains in front of them. If they can do that, they should roll to an easy victory. I like Florida to win, 39-14.
You can catch the game live from Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville at noon EST, this Saturday. Television coverage will be provided by ESPN. As always, you can follow @ChompTalk and me, @MikeyPfeffer on Twitter for live play-by-play action and be sure to tune into Own The 4th Quarter with me and @WillMilesSEC beginning at the start of the fourth quarter.