Before every Florida game, veteran college football beat writer Robbie Andreu comes up with five pertinent questions and then answers them after the game. Here’s Week 10:
1. With an early start and coming off an emotional loss to Georgia, will the Gators and their fans come out flat Saturday?
The fans showed up and showed out, giving The Swamp the kind of atmosphere that usually accompanies big games. As for the players, they weren’t flat, they were focused, especially on defense, where the Gators were fast and physical and dominant from the start. As for the offense, let’s just say the Gators didn’t quite seem fully awake in the first half. They failed to convert a fourth-and-one on the game’s opening possession and then left a possible 17 points on the field with two Kyle Trask interceptions deep in Vanderbilt territory and a missed 41-yard field goal by Evan McPherson. Once the offense came fully awake in the third quarter, the rout was on.
2. Can Florida find a way to run the ball against the worst rushing defense in the SEC?
That would be a big no. This of course, comes as no surprise. It’s already been well established that the Gators can’t simply line up and have success with a conventional running game. It doesn’t seem to matter who they’re going up against. In this case, against the worst rushing defense in the league, the Gators had 29 carries for 150 yards, which doesn’t look all that bad. But consider this: 111 of those yards were produced by the two quarterbacks (Trask and Emory Jones) and two wide receivers (Kadarius Toney and Freddie Swain). UF’s leading running back, Lamical Perine, had just three carries for 13 yards.
3. Dan Mullen wanted to play Emory Jones more than just one play in the UGA game. Will the No. 2 QB see significant playing time?
Jones came into the game early, during UF’s second offensive possession, so, it was obvious that Dan Mullen had a plan to give Jones an expanded role in the offense over the course of the game. With the big lead in the second half, Jones took over the offense late in the third quarter and was impressive. He had touchdown runs of 13, 1 and 3 yards and threw probably the prettiest pass of the game, a 37-yard dime to Jacob Copeland that set up his third touchdown run of the half.
4. Offensively and defensively, will the Gators show improvement on third down?
The defense did. The offense, not so much. The Gators completely flipped their third-down defense from the Georgia game, allowing the Commodores to convert only three of 15 first downs. So, the defense was getting off the field and giving the ball to the offense, which rolled up and down the field throughout the game. But, on the money down, the offense had its struggles again, going just three for nine. And, just like in the loss to Georgia, the Gators failed on a fourth-and-one attempt on their opening possession.
5. Will the UF defense hold Vanderbilt running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn to less than 100 yards rushing?
Vaughn is the Commodores’ best offensive player and containing him was priority No. 1 going into the game. The Gators came up with a big win here. Actually, a rout. UF established control of the line of scrimmage right from the start, rendering the usually electric Vaughn a non-factor. He gained just 28 yards and averaged only 1.9 yards a carry. Given the Commodores QB situation (the third-team guy starting), Vandy’s only hope to be competitive was to get a big game out of its best weapon. That didn’t come even close to happening.
Who: No. 11 Florida (8-2, 5-2 SEC) vs. Missouri (5-4, 2-3)
When: 12 p.m.
Where: Faurot Field at Memorial Stadium, Columbia, Mo.