Photo by David Rosenblum | Getty Images

We missed last week’s grades but we’re back this week. The Florida Gators rebounded from their horrendous road loss at the hands of Kentucky with a 42-0 Homecoming win over the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday. Florida earned its second shutout in as many home games against Vanderbilt. But this win is a little deceptive as problems still reared their head.

Offense: B

Emory Jones posted a pretty nice stat line as he went 14-for-22 for 273 yards with four touchdowns and one interception plus 40 yards on five carries. But there were still gaffes like underthrowing receivers, being late on a few patterns with several receivers open, completely missing a wide open Rick Wells and of course the forced pass leading to a tip drill interception. But not an absolutely terrible performance. Nay’Quan Wright was a big sparkplug with 103 total yards on just nine touches. He did well with the extended work due to Malik Davis being held out. Florida didn’t dominate the time of possession but didn’t really have to as none of its scoring drives even sniffed the three-minute mark. It was good to see other backs like Demarckus Bowman and Lorenzo Lingard get some run with Davis out and in garbage time. The only things to really complain about outside of Jones were the Gators scoring on just two of their first five drives and going scoreless from midway in the third quarter to the end of the game.

Defense: C

Hard to argue with a shutout but some of that might’ve been more likely caused by Vanderbilt’s own futility as a football team. The Gators allowed 200 yards in the first half alone to a Vandy team much worse on offense than Kentucky. Not to mention the Commodores were 5-for-11 on third downs and ran 49 plays from scrimmage. Florida did however turn it around in the second half as the defense gave up just 87 yards, forced a 3-for-9 conversion rate and held them to 30 plays run in the second half. One place where the Gators struggled though was quick hitters to the flat. It led to several first downs as the linebackers couldn’t get out there to cover in time. Rashad Torrence stood out to me in this game. He played much faster than when he started the season and seemed to be involved just about everywhere on the field as he led the team with 15 total tackles including five solos. The young corners of Avery Helm and Jason Marshall Jr. were tested regularly and seemed up for the challenge as well. Also, can’t forget the interceptions made by Trey Dean and big defensive tackle Daquan Newkirk. Any time a big man can get the ball in his hands is a plus in my book.

Here you go lol

Originally tweeted by Red (@Daquan_Newkirk) on October 9, 2021.

Special Teams: A

After the absolute worst special teams performance by a Dan-Mullen-coached Gator team against Kentucky, Florida played well in this phase of the game against the Dores. My only gripes about special teams from Saturday were just one or two things on punt team. First off, Jeremy Crawshaw shanking a punt out of bounds for just 22 yards after booting a 52-yarder previously isn’t exact amazing. It’s the second game in a row he’s had a less-than-great punt. All other ones were stellar though including a 69-yard moonshot in the second half. The other problem was with some issues in punt blocking on some returns that didn’t give Xzavier Henderson much room to operate. No field goals attempted by the Gator unit but Christmann was perfect on all of his extra point attempts. The best thing from that game though was Crawshaw’s fake punt scamper for 28 yards to give the Gators some juice on a drive.

Conclusion:

The Gators once again did not play a full game even against such an inferior opponent. This team is yet to play a full 60 minutes of quality football. Despite all of the faults though, Florida did what it was supposed to do and didn’t lay an egg at noon in front of a Homecoming crowd. They shut out Vanderbilt at home once again and now have outscored the Dores 106-0 in their last two meetings in Gainesville. The Gators were able to rest some players and get some younger ones in as well. Now it’s on to another nooner but this time in Baton Rouge.

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