Report Card: Vanderbilt vs. Florida

The game is over now: Florida 55, Vanderbilt 14. analyzes every element of the Commodores' performance and assigns a grade to each area.




Vanderbilt tried but could mount little success versus the heralded Gator passing defense. For the second straight week Larry Smith finished with less than 30 yards passing. Smith completed 7-of-18 passes for 28 yards, no interceptions and no touchdowns. Jared Funk came in the game late in the fourth quarter and in eight attempts (3-of-8) surpassed Smith in passing yardage (35 yds) but gave up an interception. Funk helped the offense avoid its second shutout of the season when he found Jordan Matthews on the right side of the end zone for a one-hand scoring catch. In the third quarter Funk had a nice 21-yard reception to Mason Johnston. Johnston made two catches during the game. The Vanderbilt offensive line gave up four sacks.
Things just keep getting worse for the Commodore running backs. Last week the team lost Warren Norman and this week Wesley Tate and Zac Stacy went down fighting. Stacy was taken off the field on a cart after he was hit and then coughed up a fumble which was returned for a Florida score. Robbie Caldwell later said that Stacy was going to be okay. As of Sunday it was not certain whether or not Stacy would play against Kentucky. Stacy had a rough outing finishing with 10 yards rushing in 10 attempts. Tate had some decent success although many of his carries came against the Gator second and third teams. Tate finished with 41 yards in seven carries, an almost six yard per carry average.
It was certainly not the worst passing defensive effort of the season. John Brantley and Jordan Reed combined to complete 22-of-37 passes for 277 yards, 3 touchdowns and an interception. Brantley had two long passing touchdowns in the second quarter. The first was deep pass for 40 yards on a flea flicker play to Chris Rainey. It's questionable whether Rainey even caught the pass but the play was not reviewed. The second was a short catch and run 39-yard score to Frankie Hammond. Hammond should have been tackled for about a 10-yard gain on that one. Reed had gotten things rolling at the beginning of the second quarter with a 31-yard scoring toss to Deonte Thompson. Reed had mostly been used as a running quarterback before that play so he may have caught the VU defense off guard. The Vandy defensive line came up with four sacks; Chris Marve had two of those. True freshman Karl Butler's interception in the fourth quarter gave the VU offense a chance to score their only points of the game. The Commodore secondary could have had at least two more interceptions during the game but couldn't come up with them.
The Commodore defense gave up 203 yards rushing to a team that isn't a very strong running team. Again, a running quarterback dusted the Commodore defense. This time it was Jordan Reed that picked up 84 yards on the ground. Mike Gillislee busted loose on a 43-yard scoring run in the third quarter. Florida had 58 rushing attempts. The majority of those came in the second half. There were maybe about five plays of between 10 and 40 yards that really hurt the Commodores the most. Marve led the Commodore defense in tackles with 10.
What an up and down performance by the Commodore special teams. The Commodores blocked two kicks (van Rensburg and Stokes) during the game yet gave up two blocks as well. Eric Samuels had FIVE (5) fumbled kickoff returns, luckily none were recovered by the Gators. Richard Kent had 10 punts for a 44 yard average. His longest went 60 yards. Andre Hal had a couple of nice kickoff returns. John Cole could get little in his punt returns going against the best punter in the nation.
The team continues to struggle offensively. Yes, the injury bug has hit but there are almost 100 players on the roster that were recruited to the team by this staff. Missed tackles, fumbles, dropped passes, the inability to throw an accurate pass or block all point to either poor coaching or poor recruiting. A very questionable call on one of the Florida passing touchdowns was not challenged.
For the second straight week and third of a last four weeks the Commodore nation was embarrassed. Now the team has what were once thought to be three winnable games coming up. However, the players appear to be easily demoralized and will likely throw in the towel after the first big play by their opponents.

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