Gators Gameday: 3 questions for Florida football for Saturday's game with Vanderbilt
Three questions for Florida heading into Saturday's matchup with Vanderbilt (noon ET, SEC Network).
What to watch for:5 storylines to watch for Gators' game at Vanderbilt
Florida injury report:WR Justin Shorter back, Xzavier Henderson out vs. Vanderbilt
Can the Gators get off to another quick start?
Florida scored 21 points on its first three offensive possessions and held South Carolina to 37 yards of offense to build a quick 21-0 first-quarter lead. The Gators would love to get off to a similar start on Saturday at Vanderbilt, but challenges could come on the road in the cold weather in an early start. It will be up to Florida to bring its own juice.
Can Florida contain talented Vanderbilt wide receiver Will Sheppard?
Sheppard has 52 catches for 708 yards and 9 TDs on the season, including the go-ahead 8-yard touchdown catch in Vanderbilt's 24-21 upset win over Kentucky last week. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Sheppard is from Mandeville, La., and was evaluated by Florida coach Billy Napier when he was the head coach at Louisiana.
"He's got some height and length to him," Napier said. "Basketball athlete. Really developed later and I think it came down to Vanderbilt and Tulane and he ended up at Vanderbilt and I'm proud of the guy. He's really made the most of his opportunity and Vanderbilt and he's a matchup player, he's got height, length and speed."
Can Florida execute better in the red zone?
Florida is just 10 of 15 in red-zone scoring chances over its last two games with eight TDs and 2 interceptions. The Gators will look to avoid procedural penalties on the offensive line near the goal line that have hurt them in recent weeks.
Key matchup: Florida's run game vs. Vanderbilt linebackers
Vanderbilt's linebackers — led by Anfernee Orji (95 tackles, 2 sacks, 1 interception), C,J. Taylor (44 tackles, 1 sack, 1 interception) and Ethan Barr (33 tackles, 2 tackles for loss) — have been the most solid unit on the defense. All three will need to be on point handling a Florida running game that ranks 11th in the nation (225.7 ypg) and second in the nation in yards per carry (6.07). The Commodores rank 10th in the SEC in run defense, giving up 164.1 ypg