NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Florida’s issues that surfaced against Tennessee showed up again Saturday at Vanderbilt.
The No. 23 Gators needed a late interception by safety Nick Washington to hold on for a 13-6 victory over the Commodores. UF had two scoreless quarters and was outgained by Vandy in total yards.
The 33-yard pass from quarterback Austin Appleby to tight end C’yontai Lewis in the fourth quarter. It was the longest play of the game and ignited a stagnant offense. The drive resulted in an Eddy Pineiro field goal and gave the Gators a seven-point lead.
Florida was expected to have a bounce-back performance against the Commodores, with the defense re-establishing its dominance and the offense being more productive. Neither happened. The Gators only gave up 6 points, but Vanderbilt gashed them for several big plays and a better team would have scored more. Offensively, UF started the game with consecutive three-and-outs and struggled to move the ball throughout the game. Appleby had an opportunity for a big performance against the SEC’s worst passing defense, but he missed several open receivers and did not run the offense well.
Since Florida’s 45-7 win over Kentucky, UF has not looked like a good team. Their offensive line just isn’t cutting it and the defense is suspect in a few areas. But more than anything, the Gators aren’t playing with confidence or intensity. If that doesn’t change, they will be doomed by another noon start and lose to LSU. When will the coaching staff ditch the running back by committee and feature Jordan Scarlett? He’s clearly the best player at the position, but he’s going entire quarters without seeing the field and his absence is hurting the offense. Scarlett is also their best back in pass protection.
For the second straight game, Florida’s offense was awful in the third quarter. The Gators only gained 19 yards after having just 8 last Saturday at Tennessee.
What it means:
UF could have regained its swagger with a dominant win over the Commodores and carried that momentum into LSU week. Instead, Saturday’s game gave more cause for concern heading into an important matchup with the Tigers.