Whitley At The Half: Gators letting Commodores hang around

David Whitley
Gator Sports
Vanderbilt Commodores wide receiver Cam Johnson (7) pushes off of Florida Gators cornerback Jason Marshall Jr. (3) in the first quarter.The Florida Gators played the Vanderbilt Commodores Saturday afternoon, October 9, 2021 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL. [Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun]2021

Gainesville Sun sports columnist David Whitley provides first-half analysis of Saturday's Vanderbilt vs. Florida game at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium:

Geez, didn’t Vanderbilt get the memo? It was supposed to roll over, play dead and let the Gators work out their kinks in front of a Homecoming crowd.

Instead, we have arguably the most misleading 21-0 lead in football history. The Commodores had TD catch overruled just before halftime. They missed 39-yard and 41-yard field goal attempts. One Vandy drive ended on an interception by 308-pound defensive tackle Daquan Newkirk.

That was weird, but not as weird as Vandy running 49 plays to Florida’s 31. The Commodores have almost a 10-minute edge in time of possession.

Throw in five penalties and slew of missed tackles, and this definitely is not that kind of performance Florida needed after last week’s loss at Kentucky.

How is it 21-0?

Deep Thoughts

The Gators have barely tried to throw deep this season. Then again, they haven’t been playing against Vanderbilt’s defense. That’s allowing Emory Jones to try to work on the 6.5-yard-per-completion average he brought into the game.

He got to work fast, completing a 32-yarder to Trent Whittemore on the first drive. Whittemore had two steps on the Vandy defender and made a nice adjustment to catch the underthrown ball. One play later, the same duo tried to hook on a post pattern in the end zone, but that pass was long.

Jones also overthrew a wide-open Rick Wells on the next drive. Those kinds of misses won’t matter today. They will against teams like LSU and Georgia.

• Vandy punter Harrison Smith did provide the crowd a moment of levity and a football. He had a season-low 6-yard punt on the Commodores’ second possession. The ball shanked off his foot, wobbled over the UF bench and ended up in the fourth row.