Gators contain Vandy QB
Published: Saturday, October 13, 2012 at 10:12 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, October 13, 2012 at 10:12 p.m.
Before every game, veteran college football beat writer Robbie Andreu comes up with five pertinent questions and then answers them after the game. Here's Week 6:
1. The Gators were expecting Vandy quarterback Jordan Rodgers to be a bigger threat on the ground than in the passing game, and he burned them with his arm in last season's game. Will the UF defense have a better plan for Rodgers?
Rodgers was clearly the best Vanderbilt player on the field in last season's game. That was not the case in this game. Tailback Zac Stacy was. Rodgers played OK and he made some big passes to keep drives alive in the fourth quarter. But he did not come anywhere close to having the monster game he had in Gainesville a year ago. Rodgers never really hurt the Gators with his legs. The UF defense took the option play away from the Commodores, which played a key role. Rodgers ended up with some solid passing numbers with a big fourth quarter, but he did not hurt the Gators anywhere near as much as he did last season.
2. Can the UF defense prevent speedy tailback Zac Stacy from breaking off any long runs?
After stuffing Stacy for most of the first half, holding him to 25 yards on nine carries, Stacy burst through the UF defense for a 67-yard touchdown run out of the wildcat formation early in the second half. But the play was called back on a holding penalty by wide receiver Jordan Matthews. Stacy never broke through for another long gain, but he was very effective in the second half, especially in the fourth quarter, when he scored a touchdown to draw the Commodores within seven, 21-14 with 8:57 left in the game. He didn't burn the Gators with long runs, but he inflicted some damage with his runs between the tackles.
3. Will Jeff Driskel have some success throwing the ball down the field after having no time to throw against LSU?
The Gators rarely tried to throw down the field. When Driskel did, the results certainly were not very impressive. Once again, he did not have a whole lot of time to go through his progressions. When he did, his receivers usually were struggling to get open. Overall, offensive coordinator Brent Pease called a very conservative game, and the downfield passing game apparently was not a significant part of what the Gators were trying to do. But, of course, Driskel found another way to win this game.
4. Will Mike Gillislee have another big game and rush for more than 100 yards?
The Gators had a 100-yard rusher Saturday night, but it wasn't Gillislee, it was quarterback Jeff Driskel, who won this game with his legs. He had a 37-yard touchdown run for the Gators' first score early in the second quarter. Late in the third quarter, he scored on a 13-yard run. On both plays he was untouched. Then, when the game was hanging in the balance with less than three minutes remaining, Driskel sealed the victory with a 70-yard TD dash where he outran the Vandy secondary after darting through a huge hole on the right side. When the Driskel show was over, he had rushed for 177 yards on only 11 carries. The 177 yards are a UF record for a quarterback. It was a great performance, and it came when the Gators really needed it to pull out a tough road victory in the SEC.
5. Coming off the big home win over LSU, will there be any visible signs of an emotional letdown by the Gators?
The Gators got off to their usual slow start on the road, but they did not appear to be emotionally flat. They just didn't play very smart in the first half. Two big negative plays by cornerback Loucheiz Purifoy — a 15-yard interference call covering a punt and then giving up a 37-yard pass to wide receiver Chris Boyd — led to Vanderbilt's first-quarter touchdown and a 7-0 Commodore lead. Then, in the closing seconds of the half, with the Gators inside the Vandy 1-yard line, UF came out of a timeout and lined up with 13 players. The five-yard penalty proved costly. Following consecutive incompletions, the Gators had to settle for a 23-yard field goal by Caleb Sturgis and only an 11-7 halftime lead. If there was a letdown, it was by the defense in the fourth quarter. Maybe feeling safe with a 21-7 lead early in the fourth quarter, the defense seemed to relax and then gave some big plays and lots of yards over the final 13 minutes.
Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.