Against Vanderbilt, the offense may not have been stylistically what Florida football fans wanted, but the Gators still put up 38 points. Tre Wilson and Arlis Boardingham had big days, and Graham Mertz continued his effective 2023 campaign.
But beating Vanderbilt is easy, everyone is doing that. Sustaining the momentum into this week against South Carolina is the far more challenging task, and what enabled Florida to be successful last week is no guarantee this week.
Florida Football: Wrap Up
Let’s do a blind test as to which game you think the Florida Gators won:
- 113 yards after the catch on 244 total yards receiving. The opponent had nine missed tackles.
- 258 yards after the catch on 280 total yards receiving. The opponent had 20 missed tackles.
Game two was Florida’s victory over Vanderbilt.
With Tre Wilson back in the lineup, Florida’s east/west passing game was unlocked and, at least for one day, looked like a viable offense. All eight of his catches were behind the line of scrimmage, and even though he finished with 64 total yards receiving, he was credited with 90 yards after the catch.
The performance was something Dan Mullen used to be great at, exploiting inferior opponents with a safe offense that put athletes in space that couldn’t be tackled. The problem with Mullen’s offense from time to time, and the challenge for Napier this week, is this style was prone to get blown up when facing better defenses.
South Carolina is a much better-tackling team than Vanderbilt. The Gamecocks have just 50 missed tackles on the season. Vanderbilt now has 78.
As a reference point, Kentucky is sitting at 68 missed tackles for the season.
So if Wilson, Boardingham, and Montrell Johnson can force the Gamecocks to miss (and Johnson had nine missed tackles against Vanderbilt, the pathway exists for Florida football to stay east/west and still move the ball.
And if they get stretched out across the whole width of the field, it weakens the box and better allows Florida to run the ball between the tackles.
But if in the first quarter Florida gets the ball to Wilson in the flat and he is wrapped up, the Gators will have to figure out how to get its vertical passing game going, or it will be a long day in South Carolina.