FOOTBALL: Grading the Gators vs. Vandy

The Monday Morning Armchair Quarterback grades the Gator's game vs. Vanderbilt University.

Florida got what it needed most on Saturday in Nashville, TN against the Vanderbilt University Commodores a 34 - 17 win. The Gators pretty much dominated the Commodores throughout the contest, had the Gators not committed 4 turnovers and numerous penalties in the first half, which allowed Vanderbilt to get an early 10 point lead and hold the lead though the first half, this game would not have been close. Give Florida credit, they could have folded early instead they cut down on mistakes and pulled away in the second half.

FIRST IMPRESSIONS

IMPRESSIVE: Ciatrick Fason, Chris Leak, Dee Webb, Alvin Butler (Hey, anybody that scores 1600 on the SAT and starts at linebacker is impressive)

SOLID: Offensive line, receivers, linebacking, defensive line, special teams

NEED WORK: Ball security, trainers to get our linebacking corps healthy,

THE GRADES

DEFENSIVE LINE: Led by the defensive tackles Ray McDonald and Marcus Thomas Florida was able limit the inside running game of Vanderbilt's option oriented offense. Thomas had 6 tackles and 2 sacks while McDonald added 5 tackles including a tackle for loss. Backups Steven Harris, Mike Hill, Kenny parker and Eric Holcombe provided solid support inside. Defensive end Jeremy Mincey was solid at defensive end with 4 tackles. GRADE B-

LINEBACKERS: Due to injuries, the Gators played with only two healthy linebackers on Saturday, Freshman Brandon Silar and walk-on redshirt freshman Alvin Butler. Rising star Silar, starting at middle linebacker for injured Channing Crowder, was solid with 10 tackles. Defensive back Corey Bailey was pressed into service as weak-side linebacker for injured Travis Harris while Butler manned the strong side for injured Earl Everett. While Butler and Bailey played hard, they clearly had trouble with Vanderbilt's option offense allowing the Commodores to turn the corner several times particularly in the first half. By the second half, both had settles down and played much better. GRADE C+

DEFENSIVE BACKS: Dee Webb had a fantastic game leading all Florida players with 13 tackles including one tackle for loss. Webb also broke up a pass and blocked a field goal attempt. Given the depleted nature on Florida's linebackers and Vanderbilt's option offense, the secondary, particularly safeties Jarvis Herring, and Kyle Jackson were call upon to help support against the run. Neither disappointed as Herring posted 10 tackles, while Jackson added another 5 tackles. Cornerback Reynaldo Hill was solid contributing 4 tackles. The Gators secondary allowed only 118 yards passing allowing only one Commodore to catch more than one pass. Job well done. GRADE A

OFFENSIVE LINE: While Florida's starts Jonathan Colon, Lance Butler, Mike Degory, Mo Mitchell, and Randy Hand, key reserves Steve Rissler and Anthony Guerrero would start on many other teams. Behind these seven players Florida pound out 193 yards on the ground, 500 yards total offense and allowed just one sack. Had the offense line not self destructed by committing several penalties in the first half, the Gators could have easily rolled up another 100 yards in total offense as the offensive line was dominant against the smaller Vanderbilt defensive front. GRADE B-

RECEIVERS: Balance was the key word for the receivers on Saturday against Vanderbilt's zone pass defense. Andre Caldwell led the way with 5 catches for 81 yards including a 30-yard reception off the bubble screen which help setup a touchdown, O.J. Small added another 5 catches for 46 yards several of which converted a first down, Dallas Baker had 3 catches for 67-yards including a 35 yard touchdown reception, Jermalle Cornelius and Chad Jackson added another 4 receptions as Florida's top 5 receivers all made the stat sheet. Tight-end Tate Casey has only three receptions all season but 2 on those catches have gone for touchdowns after Casey's 26-yard touchdown catch on Saturday. GRADE A

RUNNING BACKS: The only running back that mattered on Saturday was Florida's Ciatrick Fason. Fason became the seventh running back in Florida history to rush for over a 1,000 yards in a season after churning out 170 yards on 26 carries on Saturday. Fason scored Florida's first touchdown on the ground. Fason did fumble in the first period to prove he is human, but that was the only blemish to an otherwise impressive performance. C-4 demonstrated he has the total package by adding another 4 receptions for 52 yards through the air. Fason total 222 of Florida 500 yards in total offense on Saturday. GRADE A+

QUARTERBACK: Florida quarterback started the game by completing his first 10 passes before finishing with 22 completions on 29 attempts for 307 yards 2 touchdowns with just one interception. Leak seemed much more poised than the previous two games. Leak even used his legs to produce 16 yards on seven carries including a 2 yard score to end the first half. Leak's only real mistake came in the first period when he was stripped of the ball in the endzone, which the Commodores recovered for a touchdown. His second period interception, while not his best pass was tipped by Caldwell and possibly could have been caught. GRADE A

KICKING/SPECIALTY: Florida didn't have to punt all day. Matt Leach made all his extra points as usual and made two long field goal attempts, one of 48-yards and one of 47-yards. Coverage teams were solid allowing an average of only 15 yards per return. Add in Webb's blocked field goal attempts and you get a solid special teams performance. GRADE A

COACHING: Offensive coordinator Larry Fedora surely must be wondering how many points and yards his offense would have run up had they not spent the first half shooting themselves in the foot with turnovers and penalties. When Florida avoided mistakes the offense worked like a well-oiled machine moving efficiently up and down the field. With a shortage of linebackers defensive coordinator Charlie Strong had his work cut out for him. Strong's defensive charges struggled in the first half, but after some adjustments at half time came out and played better assignment football and manage to shutout the Commodores in the second half despite several long drives by Vanderbilt. Meanwhile, head coach Ron Zook managed to keep the players' heads in the game even when the fell behind early, given the last two weeks that couldn't have been a easy task. GRADE Offense A Defense B Overall B+

FANS: With no live television and having to watch the tape delay there was no way to get a feel for the fans. GRADE I

FINAL THOUGHTS

After the last two weeks it sure was nice to get a win. No offense to Silar, Butler and Bailey, but I hope Crowder, Everett, Harris and McCullough get healthy soon. Small looked to be down before he fumbled. Dallas would have had a huge day if a couple of his reception had not been called back due to penalties. Alvin Butler may have been the smartest player to start for Florida since Billy Kynes. OVERALL GRADE: A Randy Platt
The Armchair Quarterback
Later GATORS, after while the rest!


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