Nik's Commodore Keys: Florida

With the Vanderbilt Commodores (5-3 2-3 SEC) only needing one win to become bowl eligible, they travel to the infamous Swamp to take on the eighteenth ranked Florida Gators (5-3 3-3 SEC), who are the defending their national championship. With bowl hopes on the line in the next few games, what will the Dores need to do to pull out another big win on the road?

Stop the QB

      This will be a big day for all-American linebacker Jonathan GoffFlorida's quarterback Tim Tebow has thrown for nearly 2,000 yards and 18 touchdowns, while only throwing 3 picks.  He also leads the Gator rushing attack with 563 yards and 12 touchdowns.  Goff will need to stop Tebow from running the ball through the Vandy defense and will need to apply pressure to Tebow when he decides to throw the football.  Goff may need to drop back into coverage to try to confuse Tebow.  If Goff is on his game, this could be a huge day for the Commodores, and they would once again play the role of the spoiler. 

Running Game

      After picking up 290 rushing yards against Miami (OH) last week, the Commodores will need a good effort out of Cassen Jackson-Garrison and Jared Hawkins, who were both impressive.  Also, if Mackenzie Adams is healthy, he will need to provide plenty of yards to make the defense spy him and open up for some tailback runs or long passes.  Vandy needs to get four players involved heavily in the ground game to defeat an injury plagued Florida defense that only has three defensive linemen in playing shape.  If Vanderbilt can cram the run into Florida, control time of possession, and keep Florida's offense off the field, Vanderbilt will have an excellent chance to pull off another big upset.   

Get the Ball Downfield

      In this game, it is imperative that Vanderbilt take some shots downfield.  Florida has a young defense, and one that is injured.  Vanderbilt needs to burn Florida on a couple of big pass plays to get momentum swinging onto their side.  Hopefully, Mackenzie Adams will be healthy enough to play, but if not Richard Kovalcheck must step up and make some big throws to get Vandy into Florida territory.  If Vandy can not do this, they will likely be unable to keep Florida's defense off balance.  The primary reason for Vandy's early game success against South Carolina was the ability to keep the Gamecock defense guessing what they are going to do.  Vandy must make Florida respect the pass more to open up the run game. 

It'll be interesting to see how…

      The offensive line plays.  Anchored by all-American Chris Williams and all-SEC player Brian Stamper, this offensive line needs to wreak havoc with the Gator defensive line and linebackers.  If the Commodore offensive line can open up holes for Vandy to run through, they could have success.  Equally important is the ability to protect the quarterback.  If Adams is not at quarterback, Kovalcheck needs time to throw.  If he gets that time, he is an accurate passer and will make some big throws.  Either way, the offensive line is the key for a Commodore victory.

Last Meeting: Florida 25  Vanderbilt 19 (2006 In Nashville) Top Stories