Durkin sees Vanderbilt offense improving

The Vanderbilt offense has settled on a quarterback and has shown improvement in recent weeks.

The numbers on the Vanderbilt offense aren’t impressive. They’re last in scoring offense (19.9), rushing offense (117.9 yards) and total offense (295.2 yards). The Commodores are 12th in passing offense (177.3 yards).

Despite that, Florida defensive coordinator D.J. Durkin is keeping his group focused on what has happened lately.

Vanderbilt beat Old Dominion 42-28 last week in Johnny McCrary’s second career start. The redshirt freshman went 20-29 for 281 yards, five touchdowns and no interceptions. His first career start came against Missouri the week before, going 17-31 for 196 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

The Commodores are still searching for their first win in conference play after losing the first five, but Durkin thinks they’re improving under a first-year coaching staff.

“You definitely see improvement in what they’ve done,” Durkin said. “They’re playing better football right now than they were earlier in the year, probably like most teams. I know McCrary has played really well for them in the past couple of games. He’s a guy they like right now, they’re going with him at least for the start. We’ll be ready for all of them.”

The offense is led by a freshman the Florida staff is familiar with. Ralph Webb graduated from Gainesville High School but didn’t have a Florida offer and was forced to leave the state. He signed with Vanderbilt and took a redshirt last season, but he’s making up for it now.

Through nine games, Webb has 169 rushes for 760 yards and 4.5 yards per carry. He has handled 124 carries more than any other player on the team, and when the Commodores are moving the ball, Webb is often a big part of it.

Offensive coordinator Karl Dorrell has implemented a lot of pre-snap shifts and motions to create confusion for opposing defenses.

"They do a great job as a whole offensively just mixing up their scheme with shifts and motions and all kinds of things to get your eyes in the wrong place to get you misaligned,” Durkin said. “We;ve got to be locked in on what we're doing. They can easily get you misaligned, and that's when they hit you on a play. That's our emphasis from that.

“They run the ball well. McCray is throwing it with more confidence now. They throw vertically down the field. They can stretch you out. We have to prepared for all of these things."

Life for the Florida defense got easier against Georgia. The Florida offense was able to dominate the ball and control the clock. The more they ran the ball, the more time it gave the defense a chance to catch its breath on the sideline. That helped the defensive staff have time to break down what the opponent is doing.

“Anytime defensively when you can be on the side, get your rest, get your wind back and get to make adjustments and talk about it for a while, that helps,” Durkin said. “That was huge by our offense. They grinded it out and kept us off the field. You have time to talk through things and go through it.

“The best thing to do for a defense is being on the sideline. You’re not getting any points scored on you then.”

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