Florida ia back on the road on Saturday, as they travel to Nashville to face off against Vanderbilt. The Gators have had plenty of success against the Commodores, beating them nine of the last ten games.
"Going into this game against a team that a year ago we had to rely on a last-second field goal to win," said Florida head coach Jim McElwain. "I love watching the way [Vandy Head Coach] Derek's [Mason] teams play. They're really disciplined. They play the game the way it should be. They're very sound."
Mason and company are coming into the game on quite the high. Vanderbilt is hoping to string two consecutive wins together after beating Western Kentucky 31-30 in overtime, while the Gators are hoping to avoid their own streak starting and will try to shake off their loss against Tennessee.
The Commodores had a few bright spots in the win over the Hilltoppers, however, they still have plenty of questions to answer on both sides of the ball.
Vandy's offense is led by junior running back, Ralph Webb. Webb was instrumental in Vanderbilt's overtime win over Western Kentucky last weekend, where he rushed for 95 yards and three touchdowns. He is the one of the SEC's most productive running back and is second in the conference with rushing 472 yards-LSU's Leonard Fournette is first.
"You know, when you watch him his legs are constantly moving, and he runs behind his pads," said McElwain. "Now what do I mean by that? His body is lean, his quickness in his jump cuts, especially in the power game, in the inside running game, that's very impressive. And when he gets to the second level, he can go ahead and give you a leg and take it away. He's a hard guy to tackle and get clean shots on and I think that's what really separates him and makes him what he is."
This is not the first time McElwain and the Gators have faced off against the running back, however, Mac notes that this season's Webb is bulkier than the one the team faced in the past.
"You can see it on film as you go to, obviously, pull everything together from year to year. You can see just size-wise, one of the guys thought maybe they got tighter uniforms."
The passing game has been very inconsistent and unimpressive for Vanderbilt. Kyle Shurmur seemed more comfortable under center in the win over Western Kentucky last weekend, however. The quarterback helped his team rally against the Hilltoppers and went 8-for-12 for 155 yards and a touchdown in the fourth quarter and overtime; he finished the game with 279 yards for one touchdown and one interception. He has completed 60 percent of his passes in the last two games, but there are still questions at the receiver spot for the home side.
At the moment, Vandy has targeted true freshman Kalija Lipscomb the most. The wide out leads the team with 11 catches for 146 yards and two touchdowns.
The Vandy defense has struggled lately. In the last six contests, the Commodores have yielded an average of 450 yards of offense. Vanderbilt has only recorded three sacks in the last four games, and its run defense has been providing plenty of holes with the Commodores allowing 6.2 yards per carry.
Although those numbers don't inspire a lot of confidence in the defense, Vandy does have a front seven made up of plenty veterans. One player to keep in mind is linebacker, Zach Cunningham.
"Arguably the most underrated guy in the conference in their linebacker (Zach) Cunningham," said McElwain. "This guy just makes a lot of plays and he shows up and he's around the ball. This will be one of those deals where it will give us an opportunity to go see who we are and go out and play."
Last season Cunningham led the team with 103 tackles. Another linebacker to know is Nigel Bowden. Bowden missed Vandy's last game against Western Kentucky, however, was listed on this week's depth chart and is expected to return.
In the secondary, Torren McGaster is among the best in the SEC. McGaster and the Commodores forced three turnovers last weekend against Western Kentucky. McGaster had a forced fumble, while cornerback Tre Herndon had an interception and a fumble recovery. But the numbers are not pretty against the passing game for Mason and company. Vanderbilt is allowing over 270 yards per game in the air per contest, which is the worst in the SEC.
Kickoff in Nashville between Florida and Vanderbilt is scheduled for noon.null