Florida at Vanderbilt

The Sports Xchange

October 10, 2018 at 5:34 pm.

KICKOFF: Saturday, noon ET
SITE: Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville, Tenn.
SERIES: Florida leads 39-10-2. Florida won 38-24 in 2017.
RANKINGS: Florida No. 14


–QB Feleipe Franks won the biggest came of his Florida career, completing 12 of 27 passes for 161 yards with one touchdowns and one interception against LSU. With Florida down 19-14, Franks led the Gators on a nine-play, 75-yard TD drive early in the fourth quarter that allowed the Gators to regain the lead. For the season, Franks has completed 84 of 153 passes for 1,112 yards with 13 touchdowns and four interceptions.

–RB Lamical Perine continued his strong season with 17 carries for 85 yards and two TDs against LSU. The 5-foot-11, 227-pound Perine also had one catch for 7 yards in the win. For the season, Perine has rushed for 255 yards, averaging 5.5 yards per carry, with two rushing touchdowns. Perine also has caught four passes for 49 yards.

–LB Vosean Joseph earned SEC Defensive Player of the Week honors after recording 14 tackles, 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks against LSU. The 6-foot-1, 226-pound Joseph has a team-high 42 tackles, including 6.5 tackles for loss and three sacks.

–S Brad Stewart returned an interception 25 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter to seal UF’s 27-19 win over LSU. The sophomore has a team-high two interceptions to go with 26 tackles, two pass breakups and one forced fumble.


–QB Kyle Shurmur hasn’t played well the last three games. VU will have little chance of upsetting Florida without its senior (187 attempts, 60.4 percent completions, 1,400 passing yards, nine touchdowns, four interceptions) playing well.

–TE Jared Pinkney has just three catches for 40 yards the last two games. The Commodores need the 6-foot-4, 255-pound junior (19 catches, 323 yards, two touchdowns) more involved this week.

–DE Dayo Odeyingbo has been inconsistent, but the Commodores’ most athletic lineman could be important this week in dealing with Florida QB Felipe Franks, who has 152 net yards rushing.

–ILB Jordan Griffin, Vanderbilt’s leading tackler (50 stops, 27 solo), should be in the midst of a lot of the action against a UF offense that runs (208 attempts) more than it throws (159).


Hard to believe that in a season that included a loss to Kentucky in the second game that overconfidence would ever become an issue for Florida, but that is what first-year coach Dan Mullen is guarding against as the No. 14 Gators visit Vanderbilt Saturday.

Kickoff on ESPN is noon ET at Vanderbilt Stadium in Nashville.

The Gators (5-1, 3-1 Southeastern Conference) have won four in a row, the latest a 27-19 win over then-No. 5 LSU, since that early loss and will be up against the slumping Commodores (3-3, 0-2 SEC). The ‘Dores have lost three of their last four and struggled against Tennessee State for that one win.

Being on the road concerns Mullen.

“I’ve played in games up there,” said the former Mississippi State coach. “It’s going to be a different atmosphere than what we’ve seen. It doesn’t have to affect our performance on the field and how we play and how we execute and how we practice all week. It’s not going to affect that.

“For our guys to have any thought except for how hard I can go on the next play would be us taking a step backward as a team. That has to be the focus of everybody within the program.”

Vanderbilt has had its moments. The Commodores trailed Georgia 7-3 midway through the second quarter last week but the Bulldogs tacked on two more touchdowns and the Commodores couldn’t covert a key fourth-and-1 at the Georgia 14. Despite gaining 230 first-half yards against a talented defense, Vanderbilt trailed 21-6. It got worse from there.

“We’re so close,” Commodores starting offensive lineman Bruno Reagan said. “We’re unbelievably close. It’s just about playing better. We’re right there. We saw that in the UGA game. We were driving up and down the field against a really good team.”

Florida is mostly getting it done with defense. The Gators are third nationally in passing efficiency defense (96.04 rating), eighth in scoring defense (14.8 points allowed per game) and 19th in total defense (321.0 yards per game).

Defensive back Chauncey Gardner-Johnson is 28th on the Big Board of NFLDraftScout.com senior analyst Rob Rang. Linebacker Vosean Joseph is the reigning SEC Defensive Player of the Week after recording 14 tackles, including 3.5 tackles for loss and two sacks, against LSU.

Defensive end Jachai Polite has six sacks and four forced fumbles. And defensive end Jabari Zuniga is flourishing as an edge rusher in defensive coordinator Todd Grantham’s scheme with 7.5 tackles for loss, including 4.5 sacks.

Florida leads the SEC with 20 sacks and will be taking aim at Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur, who is 32-of-66 passing in two SEC games this season. In between games against South Carolina and Georgia, he was intercepted twice in a narrow 31-27 win over FCS opponent Tennessee State.

Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason suggested that running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn and his 6.8 yards per carry could get more time this week. Vaughn has only 65 carries in six games, but Tuesday, Mason referred to him as the “bell cow” among the team’s runners.

“Best players are going to play,” Mason said. “Other guys are going to get their touches intermittently. What we have to do is make sure we get the ball to our best players.”

Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks has already shown he can handle hostile road environments, leading the Gators to back-to-back wins at Tennessee and Mississippi State in late September.

Franks, a redshirt sophomore, completed 12 of 27 passes for 161 yards with one touchdown and one interception against LSU. With Florida down 19-14, Franks led the Gators on a nine-play, 75-yard TD drive early in the fourth quarter that allowed the Gators to regain the lead.

“The biggest thing is to not let our improvement that we keep making slip up,” Florida junior receiver Josh Hammond said. “We’ve got to continue to get better, get better, get better and let that propel us into the game on Saturday.”