Vanderbilt Commodores scouting report

David Whitley
The Gainesville Sun
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Vanderbilt (2-3, 0-1 SEC) vs. Florida (3-2, 1-2)

When: 12 p.m. Saturday

Where: Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

TV: SEC Network Radio: 103.7-FM, AM-850

Last Week: After Vanderbilt blew an 11-point lead in the final minutes, Joe Bulovas kicked a 31-yard field goal as time expired to give the Commodores a 30-28 win over Connecticut. The Huskies were 0-5 and considered perhaps the worst FBS team in America. But Vandy had lost eight consecutive home games and was coming off a 62-0 desecration by Georgia, so nobody in Nashville was complaining about the close escape against UConn.

Takeaways: No. 23 Kentucky Wildcats stop No. 9 Florida Gators

Best Offensive Player: Being Vandy, it’s hard to find a standout. But wide receivers Will Sheppard and Chris Pierce have combined for 51 receptions and almost 600 yards. Shepard had two TDs Saturday night in the win over UConn. Sophomore QB Ken Seals is coming along, but the offense still largely resembles the one that failed to score more than 17 points in seven games last season.

More:Florida Gators not finger-pointing after loss in Lexington

Best Defensive Player: Linebacker Ethan Barr leads the team with 40 tackles, but again, there’s not much to choose from. New coach Clark Lea was the defensive coordinator at Notre Dame and stopping opposing offenses is his calling card. But as countless predecessors have discovered, it takes a while to get things in order at Vandy. The fewest points the Commodores have allowed so far is 23 against FCS opponent East Tennessee State, and they lost that game by 20.

Fun Fact: Vanderbilt won two straight Southern Conference championships in 1922 and 1923. Those were the last league titles for the Commodores and represent the longest such drought in college football history. Though the odds of winning an SEC title are about 5 million to one, there are no current plans to commemorate next year’s 100th year of the streak.

Series: Florida leads 42-10-2, a mark that included a 22-year winning streak that ended in 2013 at UF’s Homecoming. For what it’s worth, this year’s game is also UF’s Homecoming.

Quote: “As much as there's gonna be improvement needed, and for as ugly as that one was at times, we'll take an ugly win. Especially one where I feel like the character of this football team shone through in the finish." – Clark Lea after the victory over UConn.

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