Scouting Vandy Defense, Special Teams

While Vandy is one of the weaker offensive teams Florida has seen this year, the Commodores are very sound defensively with enough good players to make it interesting. Vandy ranks just 10th in the SEC in total defense, allowing 323 yards, but they generally have limited big plays and been very good in the red zone.

Georgia gained 425 yards against them but scored just 24 points. Ole Miss gained 385 yards but put only 17 on the board. If they played a more "bend but don't break" style against those guys you can expect more of the same when the Gators come to town.

The D-line is solid overall; good at defensive end, not so good at defensive tackle. Broderick Stewart and Steven Stone combine for nine quarterback sacks from the end positions. Greg Bullinger is their best tackle and gets okay push from the inside. Vandy has 25 QB sacks on the season and had a lot of success pressuring Auburn and South Carolina but managed no sacks of Georgia's Matthew Stafford.

Vandy has two very good linebackers with MLB Chris Marve (68 tackles) and WLB Patrick Benoist (70 tackles). Both not only make a lot of tackles; they will blitz and each has two QB sacks. The SLB is weak so Florida could have success running strong side and throwing to the TE.

The secondary is pretty good and very opportunistic. The four starters have combined for 11 picks on the season and each has at least two. They grabbed four picks in the win over Ole Miss. The best player is strong safety Reshard Langford who is third on the team in tackles (50) and has two of those interceptions. Free safety Ryan Hamilton has three picks and returned one against Ole Miss 79 yards for a touchdown. I think both cornerbacks D.J. Moore and Myron Lewis are good players, and each has intercepted three passes.

Vandy is the second best team in the SEC in red zone defense and it will be a challenge for the Gators to maintain their incredibly high success rate when they get chances to score. The Commodores try to make a living off turnovers and have 18 takeaways.

Vandy Special Teams --- Bryant Hahnfeldt is a solid place kicker and the school's all-time leading scorer. He is 7-for-10 on field goals with a long of 48 yards. He is also a decent kickoff man. The ‘Dores are okay on kick coverage, but Ole Miss did return one for a TD. Their punter Brett Upson is a good one with very little return yardage. Their kickoff return has not been very good, but DJ Moore is a good PR man (16.4). Vandy has one blocked kick (FG), but they have had two (FG, punt) of theirs blocked.

Florida's keys in this game are to dominate early to calm the crowd and execute in the red zone on both sides of the ball. Since Vandy thrives on takeaways, that's another key factor. Florida turned it owner three times in the loss to Ole Miss and three times in the other seven games combined.

It's been 20 years since the last time the Gators lost to the Commodores. This would not be a good time to end that pattern.


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