Head-to-head: Vanderbilt vs. Florida

Vanderbilt hosts the Florida Gators tomorrow night at Vanderbilt Stadium. VandyMania.com's D.T. Yates compares the two teams head-to-head and makes a prediction on the final score.

Vanderbilt passing offense

VS.
Florida passing defense  

Edge: Florida

Vandy's passing offense currently ranks 80th in the country, gaining 212.60 passing yards per game.  The Commodore receiving corps is led by Jordan Matthews--who is currently No. 1 in the SEC in receptions (35), with 486 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns.

Vanderbilt signal caller Jordan Rodgers got his first win on the road last week at Mizzou.  Though the numbers might not reflect it the redshirt senior has played well in his most recent outings at Georgia and Mizzou, completing 27 of 47 pass attempts for 400 yards passing. 

Vandy's second leading receiving is redshirt sophomore Chris Boyd with 18 catches for 368 yards receiving.  Recently at Mizzou, Boyd had three catches including a clutch reception in traffic for 40 yards on third-and-13 that put the 'Dores on the Mizzou 5-yard line.

Matt Elam was phenomenal against LSU last week with 7 tackles, including 1 for a loss.  The junior safety helped Florida take over the game when he turned a long LSU completion and forced a fumble the Gators used to take a 14-6 lead.

Florida's passing defense ranks 17th in the country allowing opponents 180.2 passing yards per game.  Senior Josh Evans leads the Gators at safety with 31 tackles and a sack.

Vanderbilt rushing offense

VS.

Florida rushing defense  

Edge: Florida

Vanderbilt's rushing offense ranks 75th in the country, gaining 153.6 rushing yards per game.  Zac Stacy leads the 'Dores with 413 yards rushing on 75 carries with 3 scores. Stacy had a career-high 29 carries and a hard fought 72 yards and 2 scores against Mizzou last week.  Speedy true freshman Brian Kimbrow is second on the team in rushing yards (183) with an 8 yard per carry average and a score.  Redshirt junior Wesley Tate rounds out the ground game with 47 yards rushing on 25 carries and 2 touchdowns.

The Gator run defense ranks 16th in the country with opponents gaining 103.8 yards per game against them.  Last week Florida held the Tigers to 42 total yards rushing.

Senior linebacker Jon Bostic has been superb in the middle with 28 tackles, a team-high 5 tackles for loss, 2 sacks, an interception, a pair of pass break ups and quarterback hurries, and a forced fumble.

Redshirt senior Omar Hunter leads the defensive front at nose tackle with 19 tackles and 2 pass break ups.

Florida rushing offense

VS.

Vanderbilt rushing defense 

Edge: Florida

Florida's rushing offense ranks 24th in the country, gaining 214.8 yards rushing per contest.  The Gators definitely favor the run game with 236 rushing attempts to just 97 attempts through the air.

 

Senior Mike Gillislee leads the SEC in rushing yards per game (109.6) with 548 yards rushing and 7 scores.  Gillislee had a career high (34) number of rushes last week against LSU with 146 rushing yards and two touchdowns.  Though Gillislee is the Florida work horse, Trey Burton rushed for two touchdowns and 91 yards rushing against the Vols.

The Vandy run defense is currently 80th in the country with opponents gaining 179 yards rushing per game against the 'Dores.

Junior Chase Garnham has been a force over the last few weeks and leads the linebackers with 32 tackles--including 3½ for a loss--2 sacks, and 2 quarterback hurries.

Karl Butler has played impressive disrupting the opposing backfield with 5½ tackles for a loss, a quarterback hurry, a forced fumble, and a fumble recovery.

Florida passing offense

VS.

Vanderbilt passing defense  

Edge: Vanderbilt

The Gator passing offense ranks 111th in the country, gaining 158.6 passing yards per game.  Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel has completed 63 for 91 pass attempts for 759 yards passing and four touchdowns.  The sophomore signal caller had a fumble that resulted in a LSU field goal last week and is second on the team with 149 yards rushing with a score. Florida quarterbacks have completed 69.2 percent of pass attempts this season.

Redshirt junior Jordan Reed leads the Florida receiving corps with 19 catches for 223 yards with one score; the tight end led the Gators against LSU last week with just 3 catches for 30 yards.  Redshirt sophomore Quinton Dunbar is second on the team with 12 receptions for 124 receiving yards and a score.

Vanderbilt's pass defense ranks 10th in the country, holding opponents to 162.4 yards passing per game. Junior Kenny Ladler leads Vandy and is 7th in the SEC with 35 tackles, a sack, an interception, and 2 passes defended.  Opposite Ladler, Javon Marshall is a force in the secondary, leading the 'Dores with 8 tackles against Mizzou.  Cornerback Andre Hal had an outstanding game last week with 6 tackles, and a team-high 3 pass break ups.

 Special Teams 

Edge: Even

Florida punter Kyle Christy currently leads the conference averaging 46.5 yards per punt.  Andre Debose has handled punt and kick return duties for the Florida, averaging 9.6 yards per punt returns.  Second in the conference is Gator place kicker Caleb Sturgis--hitting 8 of 10 from field goal range.

Vanderbilt punter Richard Kent is 5th in the conference averaging 45.2 yards per punt.  Last week against Mizzou, the senior punter averages 45.2 yards per punt, with a long boot of 59 yards and two punts inside the Tiger 20-yard line.

Carey Spear leads the SEC with 9 field goals made in 11 attempts.  Jordan Matthews is currently fourth in the conference with 12.3 yards per punt return. 

Brian Kimbrow has returned kicks for Vandy and has always seemed like he's one miss away from taking one to the house.  The true freshman running back averages 21.9 yards per punt return with a long return of 43 yards.

Intangibles  

Edge: Even

The Gators have scored in 15 of 16 red zone trips with 10 touchdowns, and Vandy has found the end zone 6 times and is 13 for 18 in red zone trips.  In the last two seasons with head coach James Franklin at the helm, the 'Dores have a home record of 6-3.

Florida dominates the time of possession battle while leading the SEC with an average of 35:18 minutes per game.  Florida has yet to allow a single fourth quarter point and has outscored opponents, 78-13, in the second half. The Gators are not a team to get comfortable with a lead against.  Florida trailed in the second half against Texas A&M, Tennessee, and LSU this year.

Coaches  

Edge: Florida

Florida's defense has improved dramatically in less than two years under head coach Will Muschamp.  In five seasons as an SEC defensive coordinator at LSU and Auburn, he had defenses in the top 10 in total defense each year.  Muschamp's defense helped Texas get to the national championship game in 2010.  In 2003, while he was defensive coordinator at LSU, the Tigers won the national championship win over the Sooners.

In his first season at Florida, the Gators had a record of 7-6 and won the Gator Bowl against Ohio State.  This year Florida has been the surprise of the conference with a perfect 5-0 record and SEC wins over Tennessee, Texas A&M, LSU, and Kentucky.

Though the Gator offense favors the run game, Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease has been brilliant for a Gator team that averages 373.4 total yards of offense per game.  The win over LSU last week was Muschamp's first win over a top 5 team.

Vandy coach James Franklin is coming off the first SEC road win of his career and second road win in his time at Vanderbilt.  The bye week seemed to do some good for the 'Dores who took advantage of Missouri miscues and fought back just when you started to think momentum was gone.

Last season after the bye, there was noticeable improvement all throughout the team.  The offensive line in particular seemed to benefit the most from the extra week off with considerate improvement in both blocking and in pass protection.  If they can duplicate in any way the strides they made in 2011, then the brutal first half of the schedule--that includes three teams in the top 10--might long be forgotten five weeks from now.

Prediction: Florida 24, Vanderbilt 20


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