Another poor start for UF


Florida Gators running back Kelvin Taylor (21) is tackled during the first half against Vanderbilt in Gainesville Saturday, November 9, 2013.

Doug Finger/The Gainesville Sun
Published: Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 5:05 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, November 9, 2013 at 7:02 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 9:

1. Florida's defense has gotten off to awful starts during the Gators' three-game SEC losing streak. Does that trend continue?

Despite all the talk during the week about not letting it happen again, it happened again. The Vandy offense came out and pretty much had its way with the defense on the opening drive. The Gators got a third-down stop, but it didn't come until the Commodores were deep in the red zone, leading to a 31-yard field goal, and once again the offensively challenged Gators found themselves trailing early. UF has not led in a game since kicking an early field goal at LSU on Oct. 12. It led, of course, to yet another loss.

2. Will the UF offense have some success throwing the ball down the field against a Vandy defense that is giving up 260.5 passing yards a game?

Vandy could have had the worst secondary in the nation, and it probably would not have mattered because Tyler Murphy rarely had time to throw and his receivers were having a hard time getting open for him. Murphy did not complete a pass down the field until midway through the third quarter when he threw a 35-yard strike to Quinton Dunbar to convert a fourth down. After Vandy answered that TD, putting UF behind 31-10, Murphy had to look downfield more, but the result was a mixed bag of mid-range completions and sacks.

3. Being back home for the first time in a month, will the Gators come out energized or flat after the tough loss to Georgia a week ago?

They seemed really energized coming out of the tunnel, but that energy faded with yet another atrocious start by the Gators on both sides of the ball. The effort seemed to be there for most of the day. That's the scary part. The Gators were into it deep into the fourth quarter, but the reality is they were outperformed and outcoached by a team that clearly is not 17 points better.

4. Is it time for the Gators to get some of the younger players more involved on both sides of the ball?

Maybe it is time, but the coaching staff apparently isn't ready to go there yet. While the game was on the line Saturday, the young guys pretty much just watched from the sideline while the Gators stumbled around and fell behind big to the Commodores. Once the outcome was pretty much apparent, we finally saw the young guys — wide receivers Ahmad Fulwood, Demarcus Robinson and Chris Thompson and some true freshmen on defense.

5. Who wins the matchup between Vandy star wide receiver Jordan Matthews and the UF secondary?

The Gators had to think if they did a good job on Matthews that they'd slow down the Commodores and win this game. Well, they did a good job on him, but still got rocked by the Vandy offense, and still got beat by 17 points. So, the Gators won this matchup, but seemed to lose all the others that mattered. For the record, Matthews had five receptions for only 45 yards and was no factor in the downfield passing game.

Contact Robbie Andreu at 352-374-5022 or andreur@gvillesun.com. Also check out Andreu's blog at Gatorsports.com.

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