Three-headed monster at QB is roaring

Published: Saturday, November 6, 2010 at 6:28 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, November 6, 2010 at 6:28 p.m.

NASHVILLE — OK, now you can start talking about South Carolina.

Actually, you probably started at halftime of Florida's trouncing of Vanderbilt Saturday. With the starters on the bench posing for pictures from the Gator fans who were at Vanderbilt Stadium, it didn't take Florida long to turn its attention towards the biggest game of this season.

"It's championship week in Gainesville, Florida," Urban Meyer said after the game.

And you can see how much he's looking forward to it.

Because his team is finally playing good football.

Three weeks ago, you probably didn't see this coming, that there would be a game this big in The Swamp. Did you?

"Honestly, no," said quarterback John Brantley. "But since our new offense got rolling, you start to think that way."

The new offense has three quarterbacks. It takes advantage of the mistakes made by the opponents. It gets scoring help from the defense and special teams.

Most importantly, it's 2-0.

Which is why the next game means so much.

Instead of struggling with the early start time and the cold weather and looking ahead, Florida put on its business suits and went to work Saturday. The Gators dominated Vanderbilt in every phase of the game, made big play after big play and killed any hopes the Commodores had of pulling off an upset before halftime. The only thing in doubt in the second half — would the fans get tacos? Anyone with a ticket stub gets a free taco at Taco Bell if Vandy scores 14 points. Talk about setting your bar low.

And this is where you make the point that it was Vanderbilt that Florida walloped Saturday. Last in offense in the SEC Vanderbilt. The slogan for the Commodores should be "Vanderbilt football: We're good for what ails ya."

Except that just two weeks ago, the team Florida plays next week came in here and needed a late touchdown to win 21-7. I know, my mantra is that every game is its own game, but I'm just making the point that not everybody rolls Vanderbilt like it was an arthritic grandmother.

"We usually don't play good in the early games," center Mike Pouncey said. "But we knew what we had to do."

And then they did it.

As usual, the offense started slowly because as bad as it is at Vandy, they still can afford coaches. Those coaches saw how often Florida throws the ball in this new offense when Brantley is in at quarterback, so they blitzed every time he lined up to take the snap. Florida's first two series went nowhere, but Vandy's anemic offense (109 yards, seven first downs, but free tacos) allowed Florida to take its time. The Gators turned two blocked punts into touchdowns and got a defensive score to complement the offense.

By halftime, everyone in the Gator Nation was turning the page to the former ball coach's team.

"I didn't see it coming at all," Vanderbilt quarterback Larry Smith said. "We gave up 55 points and only scored seven on offense. That's embarrassing to the Vanderbilt community as a whole."

It was the Gator community that was embarrassed just a few weeks ago after three straight losses, the last to Mississippi State. This is a different team now, and it's more than just having Chris Rainey back.

The coaches finally figured this quarterback thing out. The three-headed monster is roaring. In its last two games, UF has gained 930 yards and scored 89 points.

Their version of Cam Newton has proven to be effective. Jordan Reed gives Florida the bulky threat they need and instead of asking Brantley to be Tebow, they've given that job to Reed and Trey Burton. I'm sure this is not the role Brantley had in mind, but neither was three straight losses.

So here it is. All set up. Winner goes to Atlanta.

Isn't that what you play for every season?

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