(6) Florida -31 over Vanderbilt:
The 6th ranked Gators (5-1 5-1) will look to build on last week’s ambush of Arkansas when they travel north to Vanderbilt (0-6 0-6) who is looking to pick up their first victory of the season. Last week in the swamp, Kyle Trask (23/29 356 6 TD) set a single game team record throwing 6 TD passes to a variety of receivers, and also complemented their air attack with 208 rushing yards in a 63-35 rout of the Razorbacks. Trask threw scores of 9 and 14 yards in the first half to Trevon Grimes (6-109 2 TD) and also found Keon Zipperer (3-47 2 TD) twice more in the end zone as the Gators racked up 593 yards of total offense. Florida’s defense sacked Feleipe Franks 5 times and forced 2 lost fumbles as the Gators cruised to a 35-14 halftime lead only initiating the rout in the second half. The Hogs did their best to keep up with Florida’s high powered attack, but it wasn’t nearly enough for their defense to contain. Treion Smith (8-118 14.8 1 TD) had an 83 yard TD run, and Rakeem Boyd (12-56 4.7 1TD) added a 12 yard run. Mike Woods (2-129 2 TD) was the recipient of 82 and 47 yard TD bombs from Franks. Zachary Carter returned a fumble 35 yards to paydirt. Florida notched 36 first downs and dominated the time of possession 39-21. Meanwhile in a spirited effort, the Commodores stayed close pretty much throughout but fell to Kentucky 38-35 at Kroger Field. Chris Rodriguez (13-149 11.5 2 TD) rushed for scores of 3 and 74 yards, Terry Wilson (13/15 110 2 TD) was responsible for 3 Wildcat scores adding a 32 yard TD calling his own number on a draw, and Kentucky racked up 308 total rushing yards. Vanderbilt played a turnover free game, limited a stingy Kentucky defense to just 2 sacks, and almost stood toe to toe in yardage from scrimmage by just 51 yards. Despite the losing effort, Ken Seals (21/32 225 2 TD) hooked up with Chris Pierce (3-53 1 TD) on a 34 yard score and then found Cam Johnson (4-17 1 TD) on a 7 yard toss.
Trask (148/211 2171 28 TD 3 INT) will no doubt have a bright future at the next level in the upcoming draft and in the NFL next season, as the senior has one of the more efficient TD to INT ratios. He has been sacked only 6 times this season, has fabulous pocket presence with a gun for an arm on the run and in play action dropback situations. TD Kyle Pitts (24-414 8 TD) is a top target over the middle as is Kadarius Toney (36-397 6 TD) and Grimes (19-303 5 TD) completing a three headed monster in the aerial attack. Considering Trask’s success is pretty remarkable since they are dominant through the air and not even close to their success in running the ball. Pierce (61-290 4.8 2 TD) is the lone workhorse despite lacking depth in their second preference when it comes to play by play. Florida averages nearly 48 ppg ranked 4th in the county with a top 10 passing game to the tune of 512 scrimmage yards on average overall. That does not bode well in the least for Vandy, who remains winless despite mounted efforts against quality competition. The Commodores allow nearly 36 points per contest and are in the bottom three quarters in the nation giving up 259 yards on average and are also near the bottom against the rush. Anfernee Orji and Jaylen Mahoney each have 38 tackles, but Vandy has just 9 sacks all season, 4 by DL Dayo Odeyingbo with just 1 INT. Florida and head coach Dan Mullen can play this anyway they want against a defense that lacks personnel and creativity to make plays, but you know they will relatively stick with the game plan and look to strike through the air early and often.
Seals (131/196 1291 8 TD 8 INT) has shown flashes of efficiency and isn’t as bad as other winless teams which sport a lower echelon of talent under center, however most of his success surrounds around shorter routes when he does take more chances. Clearly the achilles heel lies in the lack of the running game where they average a season worst 38 yards per contest on the ground and only 4 rushing TD. Needless to say, expect few carries engineered by either team. The Commodores average under 17 points per game and are 103rd in the country in rushing offense. And despite a valiant effort last week, don’t possess the same talent and tempo as their opponents Saturday. Florida isn’t exactly a defensive powerhouse surrendering 30 ppg, but their margin of victory is nearly 18 points positive, and come out of the gate so quickly that opponents are mercifully playing from behind. Still, DC Todd Graham week to week is always looking for room for improvement no matter who the opponent may be. they do rank among the leaders in team sacks with 20, including 3 each by Carter and Brenton Cox Jr. Ventrell Miller is a force to be reckoned with thanks to his team high 42 tackles and his discipline to press the issue when it comes to pressure or staying at home between the blocks.
This will be the first true away game for the SEC East-leading Gators since they suffered their only defeat of the season in a 41-38 thriller at Texas A&M on Oct. 10. Florida has been full steam ahead since that loss. Vanderbilt’s secondary has one interception on the year and over the last three games it allowed Ole Miss, Mississippi State and Kentucky combine to hit 82% of their passes. Trask is easily one of the top frontrunners for the Heisman Trophy as he has thrown for 28 TDs through 6 games, and the Vanderbilt defense hasn’t seen anything like him this season. The Florida offense will put up points at will against the Commodores, and I don’t think Vanderbilt has the offensive firepower to stay close despite the fat number. Give all day.
I’ll have a second Saturday selection upcoming.