Florida’s dismal second-half performance at Tennessee carried over into the Vanderbilt game. After showing some positives against the Vols (296 passing yards and a few deep balls), quarterback Austin Appleby regressed in Nashville and missed several receivers running free, including a wide-open Antonio Callaway on third down in the red zone. Once again, the offensive line got whipped up front and UF coach Jim McElwain wasn’t reserved in his criticism of the unit, which he had been previously. The only real bright spot on offense was Jordan Scarlett (12 carries, 55 yards and a TD), but he did not touch the ball nearly enough despite clearly being the best back.
UF allowed only 6 points and made a couple stops late in the game to clinch the win. However, the Gators got gashed on the ground and made Vanderbilt’s offensive line look better than Florida’s, which never should be the case. If Ralph Webb can run for more than a 100 yards on this defense, LSU’s backs could have a field day against a Florida front seven that has a few starters out or are limited because of injuries. The secondary played well for the most part, save for a few third-down completions. Jalen Tabor and Nick Washington had some timely picks.
Special teams: B
Nothing from the Gators in the return game, but they covered kicks and punts well. As good as Callaway was as a punt returner in 2015, it may be time to try someone else. Johnny Townsend flipped the field a handful of times and averaged 52 yards per punt. Eddy Pineiro’s 7 points were the difference in the game.
The lack of carries for Scarlett was an inexcusable move by the offensive staff. Rotating four backs is fine, but you don’t go away from the hot hand. Scarlett scored Florida’s only touchdown midway through the second quarter and didn’t touch the ball again until the fourth, when he led the Gators on another scoring drive. He had more yards (28 on four carries) in the first half than the offense had in the third quarter (19).
Florida has way more talent the Commodores, but beat them only by a touchdown. The Gators are lacking energy and execution, especially on offense. Some questionable coaching decisions are also holding them back. But at some point, you have to wonder if some of these players just aren’t good enough to consistently play at a high level. If UF doesn’t get its act together this week, LSU will end Florida’s chances of winning the SEC East.