Here’s how Vanderbilt can win Saturday’s game:
We all know the formula here, don’t we? It’s like a broken record. Vandy quarterback Mackenzi Adams will have all day to throw, the Gators will have no one capable of covering Earl Bennett and George Smith (and everybody else) and the Commodores will be flying up and down The Swamp all afternoon. This certainly isn’t a bold prediction because this is the way it has played out every week since the win over Tennessee way back in September.
Given the problems on defense (we really don’t have to rehash them all, do we?), it’s conceivable that the Vanderbilt offense, despite a lack of consistency most of the season, will put up 30 points or more on the Gators. Not only are the ‘Dores capable of pitching it around, they have a pretty solid running attack led by tailbacks Jeff Jennings and Cassen Jackson-Garrison. Obviously, we’re looking for it to be another long, exasperating day for the Florida defense.
What really makes Vanderbilt dangerous is its defense. This will be one of the strongest defenses UF has faced this season. It’s a defense that kept Steve Spurrier’s offense out of the end zone two weeks ago and a defense that leads the SEC in sacks and is second in interceptions. Pair a sound defense with an offense that’s probably going to put up a lot of points, and you’ve got a pretty formidable combination for the ‘Dores.
Score lots of points and get some defensive stops, and Vanderbilt wins this game to become bowl eligible. It’s a very plausible scenario.
Here’s why Florida will win:
The brunt of the criticism has been directed at the porous Florida defense, but the offense hasn’t exactly held up its end, either. Knowing they pretty much have to outscore the opponent to win, the Gators have been far too inconsistent and have blown far too many scoring chances. They’ve turned the ball over, they’ve dropped touchdown passes, they’ve piled up negative plays that have stalled potential scoring drives. It all adds up to an offense that is underachieving in many ways despite overall impressive numbers.
The first priority today is protecting Tim Tebow and his sore shoulder. If the Gators can do that, the passing game should be pretty potent considering all the playmakers available to Tebow. It would also take some pressure off Tebow if UF can establish a semblance of a running game with new starting tailback Brandon James. Spurrier’s South Carolina offense could not establish a running game against the ‘Dores and it proved to be deadly for the Gamecocks. So, the Gators have to run the ball and protect Tebow.
Defensively, the goal is to somehow come up with a play or two to stall drives and break Vandy’s serve. With the injury situation at defensive tackle, I don’t know how that’s going to happen, but somehow someone is going to step up and make some plays in this game.
It’s not going to be easy (no UF games will be the rest of the way), but the Gators will draw enough energy from the homecoming crowd to escape with a victory in a game that will be in doubt late in the fourth quarter.
Prediction: Florida 28, Vanderbilt 24