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Preview: Florida at Vanderbilt with Alligator Army's Andy Hutchins

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Florida has been a Jekyll and Hyde team all season. Which face will the Gators show Vanderbilt in Nashville? We turned to Florida Football expert Andy Hutchins to find out.

Spoiler: They probably didn't catch him.
Spoiler: They probably didn't catch him.
Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Florida football, to understate the matter, has had its share of ups and downs in 2014. The Gators have been on the happy side of a 38-20 rout over the #11 team in the country and on the depressing end of a 29-point loss to an uneven Missouri team. While their momentum is trending upwards after the aforementioned dismantling of Georgia, Vandy fans still don't really know what to expect when Will Muschamp comes to Dudley Field on Saturday.

To better understand Gator football in 2014, I enlisted the help of an expert. Andy Hutchins is the managing editor of SBNation's tremendous Florida blog Alligator Army. He's been riding Muschamp's roller coaster all season, and he's got all the answers to our questions about Saturday's matchup.

1. So what exactly happened in last week's cathartic win over Georgia? How did the Gators topple the #11 team in the country?

Andy Hutchins: To answer your first question: Florida ran it. And to answer your second: Florida ran it.

The Gators' game plan heading into that game was simple: Have Treon Harris hand the ball off and minimize mistakes, and we'll take our chances with our running backs. And that simplicity was brilliant: Georgia just couldn't stop anything, with Florida's blockers doing their jobs and Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor chugging along. It ended at 38-20, but it was 31-7 before Florida called off the dogs on defense late, and neither score was all that indicative of how dominant the performance felt.

2. Was last week's victory enough to save Will Muschamp's job? Can he survive if Vandy upsets Florida this weekend?

AH: Certainly, that victory puts Muschamp being retained back in the realm of possibility. I think Florida needs to at least win out up until Florida State (and possibly even challenge the Seminoles) for Muschamp to stay, but I am much, much more receptive to the idea of him staying now than I was in the immediate wake of Florida's loss to Missouri. And last week's win plus the installation of Harris at quarterback, which makes offensive struggles far more forgivable as "growing pains," really has seemed to change almost all of how most Florida fans felt about Muschamp.

But losing to Vandy, the consensus worst team in the SEC, and a team that lost to ... jeez, you lost to Temple? Man. Yeah, no, that's not gonna fly.

3. Treon Harris attempted a whopping six passes against UGA. Can we expect Florida to throw the ball more against a Vandy team with a young and unproven secondary?

AH: Yeah, I think we can expect that. I think Florida's own coaches expected him to throw more than six passes against Georgia ... but the running game was working at a historically great clip. Why mess with success, y'know?

Florida's probably going to come to Nashville with a run-first, run-second gameplan, but I'd imagine that the Gators will plan to get Harris more work, too. That running game won't be that good every week.

4. Vandy tailback Ralph Webb had his best performance of the year last week against Old Dominion - 31 carries for 166 yards. With the 'Dores likely to turn to him to keep the pressure off freshman QB Johnny McCrary's shoulders, how do you see the Gators dealing with Vandy's ground game?

AH: Ah, Ralph Webb, the sleeper back from Gainesville High who impressed me both times I saw him. Really wish Florida would've offered him.

Anyway! I think Florida's likely to be able to out-man Vandy up the middle, and force runs to the outside, where the Gators have significant lateral quickness. And I don't think McCrary's the kind of runner who can hurt Florida like Patton Robinette did last year, so that should play to Florida's strengths.

5. Let's go back to McCrary. He had a breakout game against ODU but has yet to prove himself against SEC competition. Who will give him problems on Saturday?

AH: Up front, it's the guy who gives every offense problems: Dante Fowler, Jr. Fowler has tremendous athleticism, and is incredible when he can shed blocks and get into space, so it's imperative that Vandy account for him and chip him; he can be neutralized with that strategy, but other teams have struggled against the rest of Florida's pass rush when Fowler is being doubled.

Behind him, it's Vernon Hargreaves, lockdown corner, on one side, and a slew of talented-but-green corners on the other side. McCrary would do well to avoid Hargreaves altogether, but Florida's other corners (and its safeties) have come along this year; it's been more than a month since Florida got torched by Alabama, and I'm not seeing the same mistakes, mostly.

6. Finally, what's your prediction for this year's matchup between the Gators and Commodores?

AH: I think Florida wins, and maybe wins going away. The newfound ground game is likely to control this one for the Gators, and Florida's defense should be able to keep the 'Dores in check. Give me a 34-14 win for the orange and blue.