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Huh, So Yeah. About that UF Loss

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Florida v Vanderbilt Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Last week I wrote that I no longer had hope for this Vandy team because of they way they were losing. They’d blow a lead or just not show up competitively. At times, they appeared to be out coached. My hope for their key components on offense to find match ups against (even superior) defenses was dashed. The UF game confirmed this for me. Maybe the other teams are just better, and the losses are confirmation of that despite how it happens.

Tom’s Statistical Postmortem is awesome. The numbers show the clear result of a Vandy team getting some turnover luck and leveraging it’s best players on offense against a stunned UF defense. Then it all changes.

The Gator offense looked like it was playing to who they thought they were. They were behind and didn’t have the ability to throw the ball. Then it switched. As Tom pointed out, it wasn’t because of Vaughn’s injury.

In my estimation, it was because the Vanderbilt offense, while responsible for punching in three touchdowns, were not responsible for moving the ball or holding time of possession on those drives. The Commodore defense was gassed. Florida’s first two possessions went for a total of ten minutes of possession.

Florida v Vanderbilt Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

UF’s success rate on rushing attempts went up 60-64%. Passing success rate jumped jumped eight percentage points to 50%. Despite losing nearly 18 yards on average starting field position, they were able to score 34 (34!) points on 458 yards.

Numbers are a result of the play and do not take into account the emotion, energy, or strategery of the game. What could the offense have done to maintain a lead and eat clock to give the Dores their best chance at winning?

I thought they threw it too much and didn’t each clock. In reality, it was only on the first possession after going 21-3 that that happened. And for what it is worth, I appreciated Ludwig’s attempt to continue to score on a reeling UF team.

There were two incomplete passes in the first series after UF scored to narrow the gap to 21-10. The next possession was 8 plays for 44 yards and missed field goal. It was a nice mix of runs and completed passes that moved the ball down the field and ate nearly four minutes off the clock.

Still up 21-20, Vanderbilt’s next possession was for five plays and 2:35. Momentum (which doesn’t technically exist, but is a short hand way of saying one team has found a way to leverage it’s strengths against the opponent and the opponent cannot stop it) was on the Gators side. Vanderbilt had three runs, a completed pass, and an incomplete pass.

Florida v Vanderbilt Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

Then they went down 27-21, and the passing started. 20 of the 28 drop backs occurred after the team went down. UF pinned their ear back and went after Shurmur resulting in one sack, one false start, one holding call, and one interception.

Upon inspection, Vanderbilt built a lead by capitalizing on takeaways and leveraging their best RB to maintain possession. Both of those things stopped, and UF leveraged their stronger running game and better athletes on defense to gain the lead and force Vanderbilt into down and distance positions requiring a pass.

I really wanted to blame the coaches (they should have taken a few more fourth down chances) or blame the fans for not showing up or the administration for not funding things. But simply, UF is who we thought they were. We are who we thought we were. The Jimmies and Joes were better in orange and blue.

No game is perfectly called or executed (unless you are Lord Saban and his Sweet Hawaiian Prince). Sure, if an important pass wasn’t dropped or Vaughn didn’t go down with an injury, then it would have been a different game.

Unfortunately for Vanderbilt, the hardest thing to accept is just that the other team was better.