Johnson: Gators', Vandy's offenses similar

Urban Meyer's offense may be the one that gets all the attention, but Vanderbilt coach Bobby Johnson is quick to point out there will be two versatile offenses on display at The Swamp this weekend.

"They have the capability of doing a lot of things," Johnson said at his Monday news conference. "I think we're in the same boat. We have the capability of doing a lot of things. Our quarterback can run, pass, and we understand option football. To me, we're not a lot different."

The stats back up that assessment: Vanderbilt is sixth in the SEC in total offense, while Florida is seventh.

Meyer was hailed as an offensive genius at Utah as he guided the Utes to an undefeated season and a BCS berth behind quarterback Alex Smith. When the Gators outfought Notre Dame for his services in the offseason, Meyer was expected to bring that same type of production to the talent awaiting him in Gainesville.

But things have not been as smooth as planned in Year One of the Meyer era. Analysts have speculated the SEC defenses are too fast to be beaten by Meyer's spread option. Other have said quarterback Chris Leak is not a good fit because he is a reluctant runner.

Whatever the case, the Gators sputtered a bit early, and Meyer changed things up considerably in the Georgia game.

"They ran the ball with two backs and had a lot more power stuff, which is pretty impressive because Georgia does not give up a lot of yards when people run right at them," Johnson said. "They challenged them and did a good job of controlling the ball and scoring points early."

Florida scored touchdowns on its first two possessions, and those 14 points held up against a Georgia team playing without quarterback D.J. Shockley. The Gators slimmed down the playbook and limited the spread option.

"I don't know why they went back to the game plan they did against Georgia," Johnson said. "It certainly worked for them early in the game. There is no telling what they will do."

One thing Vanderbilt will continue to do is look for freshman Earl Bennett. The wide receiver made 16 catches for 204 yards and a touchdown in the Dores 35-28 loss to South Carolina, setting a school record for catches in a season for a freshman with 46. Bennett is Vanderbilt's leading receiver for the season with 46 catches and 535 yards.

"Earl is a good athlete," Johnson said. "He is faster than he looks. He's a long strider. He has great running skills when he gets the ball. He makes people miss and adds yardage after the catch."

The Commodores carry a four-game losing streak into Saturday's game and are well-aware of what is one the line Saturday night at the Swamp.

"This team wants to go to a bowl game," said quarterback Jay Cutler. "As a team, we know we need to get two victories. The guys are working harder than ever. We want to go to a bowl game. If we don't, we're not going to be satisfied."


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