Florida Gators – Vanderbilt Commodores: Next Day Reactions

Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

It certainly was not pretty and it might have been the ugliest football game played this year. However, as we are all aware, a win is a win. Now, let me break down the “good, the bad, and the ugly” from the Florida Gators 13-6 victory over the Vanderbilt Commodores.

The Good

Our defense was back to its dominant ways after the onslaught it was handed by Tennessee. A week after giving up 498 yards of total offense to the Volunteers the Gator defense held the Commodore offense to 265 yards. Junior cornerback Jalen Tabor was a catalyst for the Gator defense with a first quarter interception that really enabled the Gators to regain confidence on defense.

Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

I liked the play of our linebackers, especially with the multitude of injuries the Gators have on the defensive side of the ball. Jarad Davis and Alex Anzalone really went above and beyond to help out the very lack luster defensive line for the Gators. The pair of linebackers stepped up in a big way with Davis recording a career-high 15 tackles and Anzalone recording six tackles of his own. Anzalone was constantly in the face of Vanderbilt quarterback, Kyle Shurmur forcing three hurries and one pass deflection.

Special teams were another positive for the Gators, especially punter, Johnny Townsend. The redshirt, Junior punted seven times for a total of 363 yards and an average of 51.9 yards. In an ugly game that saw four consecutive punts on the first four series for the Gators, Townsend won the field position battle with his leg by pinning Vandy inside their own 20 on three different occasions. Such a performance prompted a Tweet that suggested Johnny Townsend as a Heisman candidate.

Also on special teams, kicker, Eddy Pineiro was a big contributor, accounting for seven of the Gators 13 points. He made two field goals, an extra point and his longest field goal of the day was 42 yards. Another solid outing for young Eddy Pineiro.

The Bad

I’ll say this, I wrote about it in the Florida and Vandy preview, yesterday. Today, I am going to reiterate the complete and utter disappointment I have with Coach McElwain and his four running back experiment. I know Mac said that he feels like he gets the most out of all of his backs in “spurts” but man, I just can’t see the benefit for these guys. Especially a guy like Jordan Scarlett who has pretty much been the “featured” back for the Gators and I use the term “featured” loosely.

Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

Yesterday, Scarlett carried the ball only 12 times and recorded a total of 55 yards rushing with 1 touchdown. His longest run of the day was for 24 yards and he averaged 4.6 yards per carry. Scarlett is a productive back and by sharing carries with Perine, Cronkite and Thompson it is only hurting his max production value. In order to get a better rushing attack, Coach McElwain has to go to a two back system that features Scarlett and Perine with Jordan Cronkite as a passing option out of the backfield.

I know Appleby is QB No. 2 but it was very apparent against Vanderbilt why Luke Del Rio was named the starter at the beginning of the season. I also get that our offensive line is really just not good and it is very difficult for Appleby to have time to read through his progressions, but he definitely should have been better yesterday. There were multiple times where Appleby had time and simply sailed a throw over a receivers head or made a poor decision with the football. Like, in this case with Antonio Callaway.

As you can see, Appleby had enough time to find Callaway but decided to launch a football into the back of the end zone. Brutal.

Whatever, we get back Del Rio next week, so Vanderbilt should have been the last of Appleby. He finished the game 19-28 for 144 yards and no touchdowns.

The Ugly

Now, before anyone can say, “well the offensive line is absolutely garbage!” I get that! The ugly was definitely the play of the offensive line. The O line rarely gave Appleby enough time to adequately progress through his reads and make the smart throw, and they seem to be unable to block side to side for cutback runners. The success for the offensive line  was from a straight up, power football blocking scheme. It seems like the offensive line is just not good enough to put in any stunts or have a side to side running game. At least against Vanderbilt the line was not good enough, not physical enough and that is on the coaching. The coaching has got to do better and work with what the Gators are capable of doing. Power football is the answer if they want to succeed on the ground.

Moving On

Next Saturday, The LSU Tigers will make their way into the Swamp to take on the Gators in another SEC battle.

Kickoff is set for noon.