Andreu’s Answers: UF recovers from leaky defensive effort

Vanderbilt wide receiver Trent Sherfield and Florida defensive back Chauncey Gardner Jr. (23) and another defender battle for the pass during first-half action Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. [Alan Youngblood/Staff photographer]

Before every game, veteran Sun college football beat writer Robbie Andreu comes up with five pertinent questions and then answers them after the game. Here’s Week Four:

1. UF’s defense was porous at times against Kentucky. Will the Gators shore things up for Vanderbilt?

No, not close. The defense was solid against the run, but gave up play after play in the passing game against what had been a struggling Vandy offense that had only three first downs a week ago against Alabama. The Gators gave up 264 passing yards and three touchdowns and let Vandy receivers run open in the secondary for much of the day. On several big plays, when they were in a position to possibly make a play, the defensive backs did not turn around quick enough to find the ball. Pass defense now becomes a huge concern heading into the LSU game.

2. Will Vandy tailback Ralph Webb, the school’s all-time leading rusher, rush for 100 yards?

It’s been a real struggle for Webb early this season and his downward trend continued in his hometown. Webb had hurt the Gators badly in the past and stopping him was a focus all week. They shut him down early, and once the Gators opened up a 14-point lead in the second half, he pretty much was taken out of the Vandy game plan. For the game, he rushed for only 29 yards on 11 carries, a 2.6-yard average per carry, which is barely above his season average.

3. The UF offense seems to be improving in the running game. Will that trend continue?

No doubt about that after Saturday’s performance. When the Gators needed to run the ball in the second half, they did, led by true freshman Malik Davis, who sealed the victory with a 39-yard TD run with 1:42 remaining and finished with more than 100 yards, and sophomore Lamical Perine. Throughout the game, the Gators got solid push in the running game and finished with 218 yards rushing, which took a great deal of pressure off Franks in the second half. Davis had 124 yards rushing and two touchdowns, while Perine ran for three touchdowns and 58 yards.

4. The Gators have averaged only 11 points a game against Vanderbilt the past two seasons. Will they beat that average?

We had the answer to this one with 10:03 still remaining in the first half when sophomore tailback Lamical Perine made his second touchdown run of the day, this one from 13 yards. The improving offense then really distanced itself from that ugly number 11 with a steady flow of points in the decisive second half.

5. Will the Gators generate some explosive plays on offense with Luke Del Rio at quarterback?

The first explosive play belonged to Del Rio, a 25-yard completion to tight and DeAndre Goolsby on UF’s second possession of the game. The rest, and there were numerous others, belonged to Feleipe Franks and the other playmakers, including Tyrie Cleveland, Malik Davis and little-used tight end Moral Stephens. The Gators had four plays of 25 yards or longer in the passing game and four plays of 10 yards or longer in the running game, including Davis’ 39-yard TD run in the final seconds to seal the win.

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or robbie.andreu@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu’s blog at Gatorsports.com.

 

 

Robbie Andreu: