Five things to know about Florida-Vanderbilt game
No. 5 Florida (5-1) vs. Vanderbilt (0-6)
TV: 12 p.m., ABCN. Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850. Favorite: Gators by 30.5.
1. Huge day coming for Trask, offense?
With 28 touchdown passes in just six games, Kyle Trask may be the hottest quarterback in college football. And today, he and the Gators have what looks like a great opportunity to match or exceed some of these big offensive numbers they’ve been putting up all season. Vanderbilt is usually sound on defense under defensive-minded head coach Derek Mason, but this season has been a struggle on that side of the ball. The Commodores, who have been susceptible to giving up big plays in the passing game, are 11th in the SEC in total defense (443.0 yards a game) and 12th in scoring defense. Vandy also is giving up 257.8 passing yards a game. There’s a good chance the Heisman Trophy momentum Trask generated last week could continue today.
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2. No Pitts again, but …
The Gators will be without game-changing tight end Kyle Pitts for the second straight game. But as Trask and Co. showed last week in a 63-35 victory over Arkansas, the Gators still have plenty of weapons and playmakers to keep things rolling right along. Mason certainly has noticed. He said earlier in the week that UF has one of the best sets of dynamic playmakers in college football. “It’s (Trevon) Grimes, it’s (Kadarius) Toney, it’s the other tight ends that they have at their disposal,” Mason said. “And then you look at the running backs. They probably have as many catches as the receivers. Among the group (of skill players), they’ve all got speed and dynamic ball skills.”
3. Juice with your breakfast?
The Gators seemed half asleep in Nashville two years ago with the 11 a.m. kickoff (Central time), falling behind 21-3 in what certainly was an alarming start. UF eventually woke up and pulled away for a 37-27 win, but that was a little too close for comfort. So, the Gator goal this morning is to get off to a quick start and then keep the foot on the gas. “Now this year, we're going to be looking to obviously get to a faster start," Trask said. "They're not going to have many fans, but this whole entire season we haven't really been used to having a lot of fans anyway. We’ve been having to create our own energy for every single game. It's just going to be another week of creating our juice from the inside out."
4. Today’s game questions
• Two years ago in Nashville, the Gators fell behind 21-3 in the first half. Will they come out slow again or get off to a fast start this time?
• Will Kyle Trask throw for four or more touchdowns for the seventh game in a row?
• Does the defense tighten up, or do the Gators give up more long scoring plays like the past two weeks?
• Can the UF defense put steady pressure on Vanderbilt freshman quarterback Ken Seals?
• Vanderbilt running back Keyon Henry-Brooks has rushed for more than 100 yards in each of the last two games. Does that streak continue?
Click back Sunday for Andreu’s answers
Florida 45, Vanderbilt 21
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5. Key matchup
Florida run defense vs. Vanderbilt running back Keyon Henry-Brooks:
The Gators have gone through stretches in games where they’ve been really sound stopping the run. At other times, they’ve been, well, horrendous. Like on the first play from scrimmage in the Georgia game, when running back Zamir White took a handoff, went around left end and raced 75 yards untouched for a touchdown. Then , last week, there was an even bigger bust and a longer touchdown run, one that covered 83 yards by Arkansas running back Trelon Smith, who like White, was never even touched — and his run was between the tackles. Today, the Gators will be facing another dangerous back, and one who is on a hot streak. Keyon Henry-Brooks is coming off back-to-back 100-yard rushing performances and is a home-run threat, especially going up a defense that has given up some long home runs. If the Gators don’t tighten things up, it’s going to set up the play-action passing game for the Commodores, who have been improving steadily on offense with Henry-Brooks and freshman quarterback Ken Seals.