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 Also check out Andreu’s blog at




  1. A great victory! Hard fought and well deserved. That said, I reiterate that our defensive backfield is hardly one to call DBU. I have said before (and been sharply criticized – the truth hurts) that these DB’s would get “absolutely torched” by any team with a decent passing attack. And by Vanderbilt? Huh. The tackling is slightly better, but someone needs to explain to me what Gardner is doing on the same field with athletes playing Big Boy tackle football. Time to face the facts – the Gators have, at best, a mediocre defensive backfield, I don’t care how many of their former team mates were drafted by the pros. I would suggest dropping the DBU until they show they can actually cover receivers and tackle ball carriers. Swaggering monikers like DBU attempt to elevate a few players above the rest of the team. The DB’s have once again fallen off the pedestal upon which they boastfully placed themselves. DBU? Hardly. Otherwise – GO GATORS!

  2. Trooper and Gator Steve. Vandy threw 40 passes and completed 18 for 264 yards. Middle school math tells me that the completion percentage of the Vandy QB was less than 50 percent, which is not a good percentage of completions, and for only a 6.6 yards per catch. Fairly good DBU numbers if you ask me. But Gardner is playing out of position at safety. He is a good cover guy, but he is not the best of tacklers. He would be a better player at corner, no doubt. But the biggest weak link at safety is Washington, who obviously is not playing at 100 percent this year. But I think the Gators are making good progress in the secondary playing two true freshmen at the corner positions. The future for DUB is outstanding and they will continue to get better this year. Personally, I do not like the soft zone coverages with very few blitzes that Shannon is calling most of the time. Florida hardly ever blitzed today and Vandy was keeping in 5 and 6 to block, which made holding coverage difficult because the D line did not get to the Vandy QB consistently enough.

  3. Three touchdown passes when the receivers were wide open. Middle school math tells me that completion percentage is 7.5%. It doesn’t matter if yards per catch were only 1. Percentages don’t win football games. Touchdowns do. Enough said.

  4. Oh, and two of the paltry 18 completions allowed 4th downs to be converted to 1st downs. Gardner is “out of position” any time he has to tackle. I must be mistaken in thinking that all 11 on defense are supposed to make tackles. You have changed your endorsement to “the future is outstanding and they will continue to get better”. OK by me. If and when they do get better sometime in the future, I’ll consider the DBU designation. Until they do, you came close to nailing it with DUB, but you omitted the M.

  5. Looking past the criticism of our defensive backfield (for the moment – unfortunately I agree), we saw a solid running game on offense with some good pass production as well, especially in the 3rd quarter. I would like to see the Gators kick a couple of long field goals in situations where we have good field position but must either punt or kick a field goal. This could become critical against a better team (not sure if that team is LSU – maybe Georgia). I will be attending the LSU game with my good friend Richard Newman (a UF professor of computer science). Looking for improvement in the defensive backfield – learning from mistakes is a sign of maturity and growth. Our receivers can help our DB’s play smarter (better). Our O-Line is doing pretty good too, though it was Vandy. Our D-line made some plays but gave up a bunch too (we gave up 24 points including 3 touchdown passes – a better team will beat us if we do this again). GO GATORS!!!