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Florida 38, Vanderbilt 24: Vanderbilt couldn’t get Florida’s offense off the field

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Florida went 7-of-16 on third down and 3-of-3 on fourth down. That’s... suboptimal.

NCAA Football: Vanderbilt at Florida Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
FIVE FACTORS Vanderbilt Florida
Plays 60 74
Total Yards 306 463
Yards Per Play 5.10 6.26
Rushing Attempts 19 47
Rushing Yards 51 223
Rushing YPP 2.68 4.74
Passing Attempts 41 27
Passing Yards 255 240
Passing YPP 6.22 8.89
Rushing Success Rate 21.05% 46.81%
Passing Success Rate 39.02% 37.04%
Success Rate 33.33% 43.24%
Avg. Field Position 20.4 31.6
PP40 6.00 5.43
Turnovers 0 0

There’s a reason why I take a deep dive into the box score for our Sunday feature, and it’s not because I’m a nerd. (Well, not just that.) It gives me a better idea of how the game played out. Sometimes, it confirms what I saw watching the game and what I picked up from an initial glance at the box score.

And sometimes, well, it doesn’t. This is one of those times. In my initial reaction to the game, I saw that Florida averaged 4.74 yards per carry — not a great performance by the defense, but hardly disastrous -- and saw Florida’s 8.89 yards per pass play, and I remembered plays like the tipped ball that wound up in a Florida receiver’s hands, and I figured Vanderbilt mostly held the line against the run but got burned by a few big pass plays.

The latter was mostly true: in fact, once “backup” QB Feleipe Franks came on in relief of injured starter Luke Del Rio, Florida had a 46.67% passing success rate and averaged 12.3 (!) yards per pass play. But Florida also had a 46.81% rushing success rate for the game. The rather low yards per play were largely a reflection of the fact that Florida didn’t have too many big running plays — before a goofy 39-yard touchdown run by Malik Davis on 4th-and-1, Florida’s longest running play of the game went for 15 yards. And granted, a lot of those “successful” running plays went for 3 yards or less. Still, Florida mostly got the yards they needed running the ball. They just didn’t get anything more than what they absolutely needed.

And third down. Oh, third down. Florida went 7-of-16 on third down and 3-of-3 on fourth down, meaning that when Vanderbilt’s defense got Florida to third down, the Gators converted 10 times out of 16. That’s ... bad.

Even more damning: Vanderbilt got Florida to 3rd-and-5 or longer on eleven occasions. Counting fourth-down conversions, the Gators converted five of those. Converting 3rd-and-5 (or longer than that) should really be a lot less than a 50-50 proposition, right?

That said — well, the box score shows a game that really shouldn’t have been that close. For the fifth game in a row, Vanderbilt couldn’t run the damn ball. That left the offense super-reliant on big plays, and fortunately Kyle Shurmur delivered enough of those to keep Vanderbilt in the game: Vanderbilt had five pass plays of 20 yards or longer and six more that went at least 10. Shurmur only completed 18 passes (on 41 pass plays), but 16 of those completions were a success. And the Commodores didn’t turn the ball over or miss opportunities to end scoring drives. But a huge disadvantage in starting field position (seriously, Florida’s punter might well be their MVP) meant that Vanderbilt was already starting behind the 8-ball.

On the one hand, the deep dive into the box score corrected my initial sense that the run defense hadn’t been all that bad. On the other, the deep dive challenged my initial sense that this was a game Vanderbilt could have won. On further review, Vanderbilt was quite fortunate to have a chance to tie the game late if they’d recovered an onside kick.

PASSING Comp Att Comp % Yds TD INT Sacks Yds Lost Net Yds Success Rate YPP
Kyle Shurmur 18 40 45.0% 264 3 0 1 9 255 39.02% 6.2

Aside from the decision to abandon the run (for the most part), this game also showed a different Kyle Shurmur than what we’d seen in the first three games. There were relatively few short passes and lots of attempts to challenge the defense deep, many of which found success: again, 18 completions, 16 of them successful. Shurmur misfired quite a bit — but when he hit, he hit. That’s honestly a hell of a lot more useful than a guy who completes a lot of passes that go nowhere.

RUSHING Att Yds YPA TD Success Success Rate
Ralph Webb 11 29 2.6 0 2 18.18%
Trent Sherfield 1 11 11.0 0 1 100.00%
Jamauri Wakefield 1 11 11.0 0 1 100.00%
Khari Blasingame 4 0 0.0 0 0 0.00%
Kyle Shurmur 1 0 0.0 0 0 0.00%

There were some changes along the line this week, with Saige Young and Egidio DellaRipa both getting their first career starts (replacing Ean Pfeifer and Jared Southers at the guard spots), and the running game still didn’t do anything.

But while Vanderbilt ranked 127th nationally in opportunity rate (meaning, the frequency at which the line opens holes, more or less), Ralph Webb just isn’t doing anything when he does find room to run, either. This is just an inexplicably awful unit across the board. One curiosity is whether Vanderbilt will start using Jamauri Wakefield more often; Wakefield only had one carry on Saturday, but that gained 11 yards.

RECEIVING Targets Catches Yds TD Catch Rate Yds/Target Yds/Catch Success Rate
C.J. Duncan 8 5 75 0 62.5% 9.4 15.0 62.50%
Kalija Lipscomb 6 3 50 1 50.0% 8.3 16.7 50.00%
Trent Sherfield 8 2 39 0 25.0% 4.9 19.5 12.50%
Donaven Tennyson 4 1 35 0 25.0% 8.8 35.0 25.00%
Caleb Scott 3 3 27 1 100.0% 9.0 9.0 66.67%
Khari Blasingame 2 1 21 0 50.0% 10.5 21.0 50.00%
Jared Pinkney 3 2 10 0 66.7% 3.3 5.0 66.67%
Nathan Marcus 1 1 7 1 100.0% 7.0 7.0 100.00%
Sam Dobbs 2 0 0 0 0.0% 0.0 N/A 0.00%

While there were some low catch rates from the receiving corps, I don’t remember there being a ton of drops. Trent Sherfield only caught 2 of the 8 passes that were thrown his way, but that might well be that Shurmur threw a lot of passes in his general vicinity that weren’t catchable.

But that’s to be expected when you’re going deep a lot. Are we sure Karl Dorrell didn’t call a few plays in?

Notes

  • As mentioned, Saige Young and Egidio DellaRipa got their first career starts, though the participation report shows that Ean Pfeifer, Jared Southers, and Bailey Granier all saw the field. I don’t think we’re done shuffling at the guard spots.
  • On the defensive side of the ball, Tre Herndon was out with an injury, though Taurean Ferguson returned from a suspension.
  • After pulling Chris Pierce’s redshirt last week, it looks like Dimitri Moore’s redshirt came off this week (assuming the participation report is correct, which I’ve been told it’s sometimes not.) This is some really weird timing to be burning redshirts, to say the least.
  • Redshirt freshman Kenny Hebert saw the first action of his career and, I believe, so did Austin Quillen (unless I missed him earlier.)

What’s Next

It doesn’t get any easier for the Commodores with the Georgia Bulldogs coming to town next Saturday. Georgia did a good thing yesterday, beating Tennessee 41-0, but, well... they’re 5-0 and ranked #7 in the country, and that’s probably going to go up next week. On the other hand, maybe we can get a big win! Kickoff will be at 11 AM.