VANDERBILT PASSING OFFENSE VS. FLORIDA PASSING DEFENSE
Vanderbilt’s offense averages just 15.8 points per game and 360 yards total offense a game. The Commodores passing offense gains 204 yards a contest (87th nationally). Vandy QB Johnny McCrary has completed 141 of 249 passes for 1,499 yards, six touchdowns and 12 interceptions. Wide receiver Trent Sherfield is the Commodore’s top receiver with 41 catches. Tight end Steve Scheu and running back Ralph Webb each have 21 catches. Commodore blockers have given up 15 sacks this season. Vanderbilt freshman offensive lineman Justin Skule is out for the season according to head coach Derek Mason.
Florida’s defense is allow 192 passing yards per game, good for 29th nationally. In their 27-3 victory over Georgia last week the Gators limited the Bulldogs to just 154 yards on 15 of 34 attempts. Florida players have intercepted nine passes this season. Cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III leads the Gators with three picks. Gator defenders have sacked opposing quarterbacks 22 times this season.
VANDERBILT RUSHING OFFENSE VS. FLORIDA RUSHING DEFENSE
Vanderbilt averages 156 yards per game on the ground. Running back Ralph Webb, a Gainesville, Fla., native, has rushed for 693 yards and four touchdowns while averaging 3.9 yards per carry. He gained 99 yards in the loss to Houston last week. Darrius Sims has 223 yards in 27 attempts.
The Gators have a very strong rushing defense allowing just 111 yards per game (15th nationally). Last week in Jacksonville, Florida limited Georgia to just 69 yards on 22 attempts (3.1 ypc). However, earlier in the season the Gators gave up 254 rushing yards in a win at Tennessee. Safety Keanu Neal leads the Gators in tackles with 51. Middle linebacker Antonio Morrison has 47 stops.
FLORIDA PASSING OFFENSE VS. VANDERBILT PASSING DEFENSE
Florida’s passing attack is gaining about 238 yards per game (54th nationally). Quarterback Treon Harris has 44 completions in 78 attempts for 695 yards and five touchdowns. In the win over Georgia last week Harris completed 8 of 19 passes for 155 yards. WR Demarcus Robinson leads UF in catches with 36. Gator blockers have allowed 17 sacks this season. The Gators could be missing two starting offensive linemen. Both David Sharpe and Martez Ivey are questionable for the Vandy game.
Vandy’s defense has been fairly strong against the pass allowing 208.5 yards per game (50th nationally). Vanderbilt gave up 221 yards passing last week at Houston. Vanderbilt’s defense has intercepted just three passes this season with backup safety Jahmel McIntosh leading the way with three picks. Cornerback Torren McGaster has broken up nine passes this season. Defensive end Adam Butler leads the Commodores in sacks with three. However, Butler is questionable this week due to an injury he sustained during the Houston game. If he can’t go Torey Agee will pick up the slack.
FLORIDA RUSHING OFFENSE VS. VANDERBILT RUSHING DEFENSE
The Gators average 143 yards rushing per game good for 99th nationally. Running back Kelvin Taylor leads the Gators in rushing with 154 carries for 584 yards, and 10 touchdowns. Last week against Georgia the Gators gained 258 yards averaging over 5 yards a carry. Taylor had 121 yards on 25 carries and scored two touchdowns. Backup running back Jordan Scarlett, a freshman, has 22 carries for 165 yards.
Vanderbilt’s rushing defense is allowing 115 yard per game on average (18th nationally). Last week at Houston the ‘Dores allowed just 150 yards on 51 attempts (2.94 ypc). Middle linebacker Zach Cunningham leads the Commodores in tackles with 59, including 10 ½ for losses. Fellow linebacker Darreon Herring has 43 stops. Vanderbilt will have defensive end Caleb Azubike available for the first time in several weeks.
Vanderbilt’s Tommy Openshaw both kicks and punts. Last week at Houston he did not attempt a field goal. On the season Openshaw has connected on 12 of 19 field goals with a long of 49 yards. Openshaw averages 40 yards per punt with a long of 78 yards. Vandy has had one punt blocked this season. Vanderbilt’s Darrius Sims averages 21 yards per kickoff return with a long of 47 yards. He returned two kickoffs for TDs last season against South Carolina. Ryan White has 14 punt returns for a 9 yard average and a long of 36 yards. He’s muffed two returns this season. Vandy’s kickoff coverage teams have been sound allowing just 16.6 yards a return with a long of 27 yards. The punt coverage team however, gave up a 77 yard punt return against Georgia and averages 13.6 yards allowed per return.
Florida kicker Austin Hardin has connected on 3 of 7 field goals with a long of 37 yards. Hardin has had one kick blocked. Gator punter Johnny Townsend has 44 punts for 43.6 yard average and a long of 61 yards. Antonio Callaway has 13 punt returns for a 13.7 yard average. He had a 78-yard punt return against LSU. Return man Brandon Powell has 18 returns for an 18.9 yard average. His longest return has been for 39 yards. Florida’s coverage units have been solid with the longest kickoff return going for 37 yards and longest punt return spanning 22 yards.
Derek Mason is in his second season at Vanderbilt with a 6-14 (.300) (1-11 SEC) record. Prior to Vanderbilt Mason was a successful defensive coordinator at Stanford. In 2012 Mason was a finalist for the Broyles Award, given annually to the nation's top assistant coach. Mason has some NFL coaching experience serving stints with the Vikings, Raiders, Giants and Rams.
Florida head coach Jim McElwain is in his first season at Florida and has a 7-1 record with the Gators. Prior to Florida, McElwain was the head coach at Colorado State for three years. He led the Rams to bowl games his last two seasons with CSU. McElwain previously served as the offensive coordinator at Alabama where helped the Tide win a national title.
The Swamp in Florida is a very hostile home venue for the Gators with UF holding a 19-2-1 series advantage there but the Commodores won on their last trip to Gainesville in 2013. Florida is No. 2 nationally in turnover ratio (plus 1.63 per game) while Vanderbilt is No. 122 (minus 1.38 per game). Vanderbilt is fifth nationally in third down conversion defense (25.22%) while Florida is No. 22 (32.50%).
PREDICTION: Florida 23, Vanderbilt 9. Florida has played so well this season while the Dores have struggled to get three wins. The key is really turnovers. Florida has feasted on them this season while Vandy has given the ball up in bunches. With a very average turnover ratio of around zero Vandy would probably have a winning record right now.