Opponent: Florida Gators
Date: November 9, at Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium (yup, that’s the full name)
All time Series Record: Florida Leads 40-10-2
Last Meeting: This was the one where Vandy was up 21-13 at half and 21-20 at the end of 3Q before UF stopped turning it over and Vandy’s offense couldn’t score but six points in the second half. Then I wrote a piece about how maybe UF was just better and the first 3Q were the result of crazy luck for the Commodores.
Last Year: 10-3 (6-2), 9th in S&P
Cousin Eddie Dan Mullen (10-2; Second Year)
I’ve recently moved my family back to the Sunshine State. As a native Floridian, I couldn’t be more pleased, but I realized my son, who is only two years old, had never seen lizards like we have down here. Whenever he sees one, he says, “yucky lizards.” My goal is to teach him to say that when he sees Gator paraphernalia around town.
It is my pleasure to bring to you this totally biased and hate filled preseason preview of CFB’s luckiest team in 2018. There is a 100% chance I have edited this multiple times to delete the chorus of obscenities that poured forth via my keyboard. It’s just really hard not to mother**** or g****** when I get going. Feel free to insert your own.
Anyways, Dan Mullen is a hell of a coach and learned how to build a consistent and sometimes elite program out of perennial SEC West bottom dweller, Mississippi State. After trying to leave almost every year he was down there, he finally got his shot after the shark humper got canned in Swamp Town.
Mullen is familiar with UF as he was OC there for Urban the Pious. The prolific offensive numbers were courtesy of Mullen’s brilliant mind. I mean that genuinely. He is a great football mind, and he puts his players in a position to succeed. He has a system, but if last year was any sign, he fits his system to his players, then coaches an absolute hell of a game.
Mullen legit scares me in the East. It is very easy to win at UF if you don’t self implode (tons of money, fertile recruiting ground, state university) and 10 wins in the first year after a disastrous 4-7 campaign from Yellow Teeth the prior year, Mullen has GatorNation (*pukes*) believing the hype.
I mean, he turned the last four seasons of 7-5, 10-4, 9-4, and 4-7 with recruiting classes of 21, 12, 11, and 14 (thanks 247) into a 10-3 season and a #7 end of the year ranking. How’d he do it?
It started up front. Last year, The Gators had five returning OL starters. They lost four of the five for the 2019 season. They were the rock for the offense, especially RBs Malik Davis and Lamical Perine. Davis was the starter until he broke his foot and Perine stepped in and ran for 996 yards. I suspect the ground game will be as important this year as it was the last.
QB Feleipe Franks had a great 2019, for his standards. He threw for 58% completion rate and only 26 times a game. That’s not a lot of confidence in the passer. But, when he completed, it was for big gain. He averaged 13 yards per completion and with 24 TD’s and only six picks. He also ran the ball for 350 yards and seven TD’s. Aka Dan Mullen knows how to use him.
They return three seniors in the WR core and a 6’6” flex TE, Kyle Pitts. The receivers are not traditionally speedy UF receivers but they are experienced in Mullen’s offense.
On defense, they return eight of their 11, including all their DB’s and three of the DL. They finished last year 17th in Defensive S&P, helped by ranking 6th in field position, and winning the efficiency battle (allowing less than 50, 70, or 100% of the yards needed to gain for a first down on first, second, or third down, respectively).
In a big Stephen A Smith voice, “However,” the Gates had some of the best turnover luck in the country last year. They forced 26 turnovers last year and only lost 14. Essentially, fumbles are 50/50 shot when they hit the ground. UF recovered 12. That’s almost one a game. That’s best for T-10 in the country, with only four Power Five teams ahead of them.
They were 3-0 in one score games (games decided by 8 points or less), which are statistically considered coin flips, and lost to Kentucky and Missouri. They weren’t that good! I feel like I’m taking crazy pills. Maybe Vandy really should have beaten them.
I hate UF. I hate Tim Tebow and Jack Jackson and Emmitt Smith and The Swamp and their campus and their dirty hog town they call a home. I hope they receive NCAA sanctions that shut down all their programs and the state legislature defunds the University. Well, except the medical programs, which are awesome and help all sorts of people... and their environmental conservation efforts are commendable. Well, and they have a great vet school. But other than that, no more diplomas!
**Sigh** Once again, they’ll rely on defense, possession, and field position. If they get turnovers, they’ll win games. If they don’t it’ll be a war of attrition, and Dan Mullen will figure out a way to win.
Yucky Lizards, indeed.