GAMEDAY: In-depth head-to-head matchup vs. Vandy

It seems like forever since Foley handed Coach Zook his pink slip. But, it was little more than a week ago. The Florida football team rode the wave of emotions and gave Top 5 Georgia a challenge. The Gators are looking to halt a two game skid, and work toward becoming bowl eligible. Something positive to take away from all of those weeks of getting up early for summer conditioning. A fun filled bowl week to temporarily forget a season in hell and use as a springboard for next season.

For several years, Vanderbilt has served as the doormat in the rough and tumble Southeastern Conference. The Commodores were always the team that you pulled for when they played a Florida opponent. In a totally unexpected move, the Gators could lose to 'Dores and have a losing record going into game 10. They're playing for pride folks.

Florida offensive line vs Vandy defensive front

C- #68 Mike Degory 6'6 306 Jr. 		DT- #99 Matt Clay 6'2 302 Sr.
LG- #72 Lance Butler 6'7 298 Jr. DT- #96 Robert Dinwiddie 6'5 280 Sr.
RG- # 61 Mo Mitchell 6'7 370 Sr. DE- #54 Theo Horracks 6'4 270 Fr.
LT- # 78 Jonathan Colon 6'7 315 Sr. DE- #91 Jovan Hayes 6'3 280 So.
RT- #74 Randy Hand 6'6 305 Jr. SLB- #4 Herdley Harrison 6'2 236 Jr.
MLB- #47 Jonathan Goff 6'4 240 RFr.
WLB- #30 Moses Osemwegie 6'0 225 Jr.

The offensive line has been one of the Gators consistent points this year, just ask Ciatrick Fason. Penalties withstanding, this group traded punches with a very strong Georgia defensive front last weekend in Jacksonville, putting up 458 yards of total offense. Florida is second in the Southeastern Conference in both scoring offense (33.8) and total offense with 428.6 yards per game.

While the Gators rank ninth in the SEC in rushing with 162.8 yards per game, the reality is that Florida is only three Fason carries per game from being fourth. Florida's backs are averaging 4.8 yards per carry and have scored 17 touchdowns, both good for second in the conference. Those statistics occur when holes are being opened up front. The line has a goal of 1,300 yards for Fason.

The Gators have allowed only 11 sacks. However, four of those were against the Bulldogs. Only Alabama (9 sacks) and Arkansas (10 sacks) rank higher than the Florida front in that category, but barely. Factor in that Bama (103) and the Razorbacks (85) have thrown fewer passes than Florida though. Keeping the 'Dores from getting to Leak could possibly allow them to reclaim their stake as the league's best all around offensive line.

In Nashville, the Commodores run defense is a pathetic 11th in the league giving up 193.2 yards per game. Ditto total defense. When Leak drops back to pass, he should have a level of comfort that he didn't last weekend. The 'Dores have tallied only 11 sacks this season with strongside linebacker Herdley Harrison leading the way with three. Reserve defensive tackle Ralph McKenzie has a pair of sacks. Vanderbilt has had a strong tradition of outstanding middle linebackers, who make a splash in the NFL. Moses Osemwegie continues that fine tradition as he leads the Commodores with 81 tackles.

The 'Dores and Gators faced a common opponent in the latter part of October in the Georgia Bulldogs. The Dawgs found tremendous success on the ground running for 273 yards. Tailbacks Danny Ware and Thomas Brown each ran for over 100 yards. Quarterback David Greene wasn't touched all day. Last weekend the 'Dores were scorched for 273 yards rushing by LSU.

Analysis: The Florida offensive line had some costly penalties against Georgia. Offensive lineman Lance Butler addressed those concerns in Tuesday's media day, and vowed that the line will correct those mental mistakes. Fason and Thornton should have a banner day against a pitifully weak run defense. To note, should Degory, Butler, and Hand all elect to return for their senior campaigns with Rissler, Miller, Tartt, Trautwein, Washington, and Medder battling it out for playing time….the '05 Gators could be lethal. BIG EDGE: Florida

Florida skills positions vs Vandy secondary

QB- #12 Chris Leak 6'0 195 So.		CB- #7 Bill Alford 5'9 185 Sr.
FB- #42 Billy Latsko 5'10 230 So.		CB- #10 Dominique Morris 6'1 195 Jr.
TB- #4 Ciatrick Fason 6'0 215 Jr.		FS- #36 Andrew Pace 6'1 210 Jr.
TE-#84 Tate Casey 6'6 219 Fr.		SS- #12 Kelechi Ohhanja 6'1 210 Jr.
WR- #11 OJ Small 6'1 226 Sr.		NB- # 31 Ronnie Swoopes 6'2 205 Jr.
WR- #5 Andre Caldwell 6'1 195 So.
WR- #81 Dallas Baker 6'3 205 Jr.

Chris Leak had a solid performance against the Bulldogs completing 22 of 34 for 247 yards and a touchdown. He leads the SEC in passing (259.8) and ranks fourth in passing efficiency at 147.6. However, Leak has been inconsistent, seemingly performing very well every other game. He did not perform well against Mississippi State two weeks ago, LSU four weeks ago, or Kentucky six weeks ago. The sophomore has playing well in-between these games.

What about Ciatrick Fason can I possibly add that hasn't already been written. Well, he may need some help on gift ideas for his offensive linemen after the season? Fason is one of the most personable guys on this team. His production is widely known throughout the conference. The former Neptune Beach Fletcher grad ripped the Dawgs for 139 yards and 8.1 yards per carry. He also hauled in five passes for 35 yards. Fason leads the SEC in rushing and needs only 120 yards to reach the 1,000 yard plateau.

Florida receivers OJ Small, Andre Caldwell, and Chad Jackson are among the best in the conference. Small leads the conference in receptions with 44. He also ranks 6th in yards per game with 62. Caldwell ranks 10th in receptions with 29 and 7th in yards per game with 58.5. Jackson doesn't have the number of catches per game, but he ranks 8th with 55.4 yards per game. Jackson also leads the top ten averaging 23.3 yards per catch. It appears that the Gators are in the process of getting comfortable with tight end Tate Casey.

Vanderbilt has been torched in recent games by Rutgers quarterback Ryan Hart, who completed 31 of 40 passes for 344 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Scarlet Knights trialed 34-16 when Hart led his team to a furious 37-34 come from behind victory in Nashville. The Commodores were also lit up by Eastern Kentucky quarterback Josh Greco two weeks ago for 20 of 29 for 262 yards and a score.

Analysis: The Florida running game should be successful, which will open things up for the passing game. Quarterbacks have lit up the Commodore secondary deep like a Rockefeller Plaza Christmas tree. EKU had a 45 touchdown strike, LSU a 34 yard touchdown pass, and Georgia a pair of deep touchdown strikes. If Leak can ditch the erratic performances every other week, Florida should win big. If Leak is off, hand it off. BIG EDGE: Florida

Florida defensive front vs Vandy offensive line

DT- #58 Kenny Parker 6'2 298 Jr.		C- # 77 Trey Holloway 6'2 285 Jr.
DT- #44 Marcus Thomas 6'3 290 So.	LG- #76 Brian Kovolisky 6'7 295 Sr.
DE- #20 Joe Cohen 6'2 270 So.		RG- #63 Nigel Seaman 6'5 300 Jr.
DE- #57 Jeremy Mincey 6'4 258 Jr.	LT- #71 Justin Geisinger 6'4 330 Sr.
WLB- #47 Todd McCullough 6'5 230 Jr.	RT- #72 Brian Stamper 6'5 292 So.	 
MLB- #40 Brandon Siler 6'2 230 Fr.
SLB- #30 Earl Everett 6'2 224 So.

The Gators have been bitten by the injury bug. All-American Channing Crowder and Travis Harris will miss the contest dues to injuries. That means more playing time for Florida's young studs, Brandon Siler, who Coach Zook referred to as a veteran and Javier Estopinian.

Georgia tailback Danny Ware ran for 103 yards on just 18 carries last weekend. A week prior Mississippi State tailback Jerious Norwood ran for 174 yards on 29 carries and two touchdowns. Often in 2004, the defensive tackles at Florida are better on paper than they are in person. Too often they are caught out of position or struggle to get off of blocks. Other times they look like everyone expected them to look. Who knows what we'll get.

The Commodores are not known for their running game. They are averaging 137.8 yards on the ground, good for 11th in the conference. They have scored 12 touchdowns via the ground attack. Vanderbilt is last in the conference in protecting the passer. The 'Dores have given up 25 sacks. Pretty disturbing considering Vanderbilt has thrown fewer passes (194) than anybody in the league except Alabama and Arkansas.

Analysis: Siler has played extremely well for a first year guy. The Gators will miss Crowder and Harris. Can the defensive line take charge? The left side, Kovolisky and Geisinger are the cream of this crop. Both are stalwarts of the Commodore front. However, their supporting cast has not been reliable.

EDGE: EVEN

Florida secondary vs Vandy skills positions

CB- #15 Dee Webb 5'11 190 So.		QB- #12 Jay Cutler 6'4 225 Sr.
CB-#35 Reynaldo Hill 5'11 185 Sr.		FB- #28 Matthew Tant 5'11 236 Sr.
FS- #46 Jarvis Herring 5'11 201 Jr.	TB- #1 Kwane Doster 5'11 190 Jr.
SS- #7 Cory Bailey 5'11 191 Sr.		TE- #84 Dustin Dunning 6'5 250 Jr.
						WR- #80 Brandon Smith 6'1 192 Sr.
						WR- #2 Erik Davis 6'1 185 Jr.

Florida's secondary ranks 9th in pass defense. The Gators have given up 12 touchdowns through the air. Senior Cory Bailey has simply struggled this season, without explanation. The Florida coaches obviously don't have the confidence in allowing the players to play a little man defense.

The Gators are in lock down on the quarterback. Just as it was with Shane Boyd and Matt Jones, the Vanderbilt signal caller sets the tone. Jay Cutler is the Commodore offense. He is their leading passer. He is their leading rusher. Cutler is best when the 'Dores are able to effectively run the football and capitalize on field position due to turnovers, as they did against Mississippi State. He is 6th in the SEC in passing. Cutler has only thrown six touchdown passes on the season.

Tailbacks Kwane Doster and Norval McKenzie have run for 556 yards. They average 4.34 yards per carry and have scored only one touchdown despite combining for 128 carries.

Vanderbilt receivers Brandon Smith (31) and Erik Davis (26) rank 8th and 9th respectively in receptions. Davis also ranks 10th in the league with 51.6 yards per game. Their 57 combined receptions account for nearly 50% of the Vanderbilt passing offense.

Analysis: When dependent upon throwing the ball to get back in ballgames VU is PU. Vandy couldn't begin to overcome big leads by South Carolina, Georgia, and LSU. They've only scored 7 points in the fourth quarter throughout the 2004 season.

EDGE: Florida

Intangibles & Environment

The Gators are fighting for a berth in a bowl game. Remember…Scarlet Knights quarterback Ryan Hart led his team to three fourth quarter touchdowns for a 37-34 come from behind victory in Nashville. So much for the home field advantage.

EDGE: Florida


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