Commodores use bye week to prep
Published: Tuesday, November 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, November 1, 2005 at 2:18 a.m.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson will have two weeks to prepare for Florida coach Urban Meyer's multiple offense.
Even that may not be enough.
''Usually, it is the people that are running the plays rather than the plays themselves,'' Johnson said. ''They have the capability of doing a lot of things, and we're in the same boat.''
Vanderbilt used its first open date to watch No. 13 Florida put itself back in contention for the SEC East title with a 14-10 victory over Georgia on Saturday. The Gators scored touchdowns on their first two possessions, and that stood up for the victory.
Florida scaled back its option attack against the Bulldogs after losing two SEC games and used more two running back and tight end formations.
''They used more power stuff, which is pretty impressive because Georgia does not give up a lot of yards when you run right at them,'' Johnson said. ''They did a good job of controlling the ball and scoring points early.''
Meyer's offense has been much scrutinized in Gainesville since he arrived from Utah, where he led the Utes to an undefeated season. His innovative offense allowed Utah to become the first non-BCS school to participate in a BCS game and propelled quarterback Alex Smith to the top of the NFL Draft. Critics have said faster SEC defenses do not allow that same scheme to work, while others point to quarterback Chris Leak being more of a passer than a runner and not fitting the scheme.
''I saw (Leak) in the Georgia game, and it looked like he was having fun out there,'' Johnson said. ''He was smiling and enjoying the atmosphere. When a guy is relaxed and in that kind of a situation, I think he plays better.''
Whatever the case may be, Florida is ranked 67th in the nation in total offense and 66th in scoring offense, rankings that are far below what was anticipated from the highly sought-after coach. Vanderbilt's defense still will have its hands full, entering the game last in the league in pass defense and 10th in overall defense.
''(Chris Leak) throws one of the best balls I've seen in my time here,'' Vanderbilt linebacker Moses Osemwegie said. ''He's a shifty guy. We're going to need to get some pressure on him and hit him.''
Vanderbilt (4-4, 2-3) is out to snap a four-game losing streak and move one game closer to clinching bowl eligibility for the first time since 1982. The Commodores must win two of their remaining three games against Florida, Kentucky and Tennessee to reach the six-win plateau.
''This is a situation we've put ourselves in and this team wants to go to a bowl game,'' quarterback Jay Cutler said. ''It is out there, and we know as a team we need two victories. Guys are working harder than ever.''
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