Fundamentals Key to Win Against Florida

The Vanderbilt Commodores will take their fourth shot at win number six on Saturday against the Florida Gators. Win number six will not come easy against this Gator team that is scoring 42.9 points per game and only allowing 11.6 points per game.

To win this game the Commodores will need to return to the same form that gave them their 5-0 start. That starts with winning the turnover battle. It is obvious that Florida has no trouble scoring points so the last thing the Dores can afford to do is give them a short field with an easy scoring opportunity. Vandy will also need to force some turnovers to give themselves some easy scoring chances against this tough defense.

They will also need to play really well in special teams. The Gators have excelled on special teams this season. Brandon James is averaging 20.2 yards per punt return and 28.3 yards per kickoff return. Look for Brett Upson to do a lot of the rugby style punting that keeps James from getting the ball in his hands. For Upson to get those rugby style kicks off, the Vanderbilt punt team will need to keep the pressure out of his face. Florida is very aggressive against punts, and they came up with two big punt blocks against Kenutcky.

The Black and Gold will also need to minimize the penalties that are called against them. Penalties that kill drives for their offense or extend drives for the Gators' offense will put the Commodores in too deep of a hole.

Early in the season the Vandy defense was giving up a lot of yards but not giving up a lot of points. They will need to play a similar "Bend but Don't Break" style of defense against Tim Tebow to keep him from hitting the big plays down the field. Stopping the big play starts with containing Percy Harvin. Harvin comes into this game averaging 7.1 yards per carry with 4 touchdowns rushing and 16.6 yards per reception with 7 touchdowns receiving. He is the most dangerous when he has the ball in space. It will be important for the Commodores defensive backs to be able to make tackles against him in the open field.

The Gators offense now has another dimension besides Tebow's running and throwing and Harvin's running and receiving in Jeffrey Demps. Demps has been arguably the most dangerous weapon for Florida this season. He has 37 carries for 376 yards this season. The key to stopping him will be getting multiple defenders to him when he has the ball to get him on the ground.

The biggest key for the offense, other than taking care of the ball, will be playing keep away from the Gators' offense. Jared Hawkins will need to have a big game for Vandy to win this one. If Hawkins can give them four yards per carry it will allow the Dores to keep the chains moving and keep Tebow on the sideline holding his helmet.

This is no doubt a tough game for the Commodores, but it is not a game that they cannot win. They just need to get back to the fundamental football that they played so well in the first five games of the season.


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