I am not going to talk about the Vanderbilt-Florida game from 2018. If Ke’Shawn Vaughn is injured in the virtual game, I might blow a gasket, rip off a stream of expletives, and go full rogue with Kyle Shurmur going over 100 yards rushing. Honestly, that might be the most entertaining thing that can happen, but I was given some rules. None of the rules will stop me from two-stepping and chest bumping may way to victory. I need a Gator Chomp celebration button though. The Florida players do it automatically in the game.
With the game (wrongly) in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, Vanderbilt comes out in the “Stormtroopers” because the Florida sun needs no black. Florida is in their orange helmets with blue jerseys and pants. Florida has the better team ratings in overall (90-86) and defense (90-83), but Vanderbilt does have the offensive advantage (90-88). The Commodores loses the toss and will receive under a partly cloudy evening sky.
Kyle Shurmur comes out firing a quick pass to Kalija Lipscomb for 5 on an option route. Ke’Shawn Vaughn takes an inside handoff for 3 yards. Lipscomb makes a second catch on a play where he runs a slant over another slant, with the underneath route clearing space for the catch to be made just before contact to gain 19. Marco Wilson dropped an easy pick on a pass Shurmur should not have attempted. Oops. Kylan Johnson doesn’t drop his chance on the next play. Double oops.
Florida starts at their 40. Tyrie Cleveland cannot make the lunging catch after getting a half step on Joejuan Williams. Jordan Scarlett carries inside for 6 yards. Williams tries and fails to knock the ball loose, and Cleveland makes an 8-yard reception. Trevon Grimes somehow makes a 7-yard catch over Wiley. Feleipe Franks throws the next pass away. Josh Smith sees the HB screen coming, but Scarlett goes over him for the first down. Wiley just gets his hands in to break up an out route. Scarlett back inside for 3. Josh Hammond drops a pass he should have caught. Evan McPherson makes the 48-yard FG for the first points with 2:50 played.
Ke’Shawn Vaughn runs for nearly 10 yards between the tackles but leaves 2nd and inches. A power run Vaughn earns the first down and 4 yards. Jared Pinkney gets 3 after a catch in the flat. Shurmur waits too long and takes a big sack to derail the momentum. Shurmur throws the ball way inside when Lipscomb has tons of space away from the safety, but Kalija still makes the catch for 17 and a first down. It was a scary moment when he released the pass. Khari Blasingame catches for 1 in the flat. Again, the routes take too long, and Shurmur takes a sack. CJ Bolar refuses to jump on a corner route and lets the DB knock the ball down. Okay? In a rare moment where a punter causes excitement, Parker Thome rugby punts the ball down and out at the Florida 1!
Van Jefferson gets 10 right off the bat for a refresh on downs and breathing space then gets 12 on a repeat of the play. Charles Wright breaks up the same play thrown to a different receiver. Donovan Sheffield makes the easy pass breakup but should have gone for the pick. Hammond runs an out that turns into a 15-yard reception. Joejuan Williams jumps a curl and misses, so Van Jefferson goes for 53 yards to the Vanderbilt 9. Cameron Tidd knifes into the backfield and gets the first hit then Dare Odeyingbo finishes the sack of Franks. Scarlett shakes off one tackler then carries another for 9 yards to end the first quarter. The Gators have 3rd and goal at the 8. C’yontai Lewis gets only 5 though. The chip-shot FG is good to make it 6-0 Florida with 6:34 left in Q2. The defense gave up much too yardage, but it was key to hold the offense to only another FG.
Chris Pierce catches a shallow corner for 23 including holding off a defender for the last 6 or so before getting 11 more on a slant. Vaughn catches on a wheel for 7. Unfortunately, a play action pass run against a blitz ends with Shurmur on his back. The game plan needs to be tweaked to protect the QB. A LB drops into an underneath zone and nearly has a pick. The decision making is also not great. Thome’s punt goes through the corner of the end zone 2 yards deep. It was nearly another beauty.
Scarlett grinds inside for back-to-back 6-yard rushes. Jefferson has a catch for 12 but gets walloped by Williams. The ball goes back to Scarlett for 6 more followed by 3. Scarlett’s backup Malik Davis gets 5 to keep the Gator ground game grinding out yards. Franks keeps for 7 after the defense keys on the RB. Franks gives to Davis for no gain. Back to the air, Sheffield and his man battle, and the ball falls incomplete. McPherson just nicks the upright and the 48-yard FG is no good. 2:52 to halftime and 3 timeouts for Vandy.
A middle screen to Kalija loses 1 against man coverage. Shurmur misses the 2nd down throw while rolling left the completes to Lipscomb underneath for 8 but is still 4 yards short. Florida takes a timeout with 2:00 on the clock. Another rugby punt from Thome goes out at the Florida 17.
Feleipe Franks throws the pass away with all options covered. Hammond catches underneath and sheds Haynie to gain 13 before adding 10 on a curl. A blitz frees Dayo to sack Franks. Haynie helps Hammond drop the next pass. Grimes holds on for a first down and 21 yards with Daley making hard contact. Sheffield is beat by Van Jefferson for 42 yards. The drive ends when an option pitch to Scarlett turns into a 3-yard TD. The score is 13-0 Florida with 49 seconds until halftime.
The drive starts, and, oh, look, Shurmur sacked again. He responds with a pass to Pinkney for 9. I take a timeout with 19 seconds left. Uh…why? It worked! Pinkney left alone up the seam for 36! He is down to the Florida 48. A deep pass to Tennyson is nearly picked, but a throw to Pierce on a corner route gets 19 to the Florida 29 and out of bounds with 5 seconds to go! Guay answers our prayers and nails the 46-yard FG! Vanderbilt has life as the score becomes 13-3 with 1 second left. A short kickoff to an upback ends the first half.
At halftime, Vaughn has next to nothing, so that needs to change. Runs from spread formations have been more successful by spreading out Florida’s front. The offense cannot finish drives and has given up too many sacks. Meanwhile, the defense is doing okay but has given up a couple of big plays.
Florida starts the half by giving the ball to Jordan Scarlett up the middle for consecutive carries of 12 and 7. Blitzers had come up the middle both times but were not effective. Finally, Griffin gets home before Dare cleans up to make it 3rd and 5. More pressure up the middle forces Franks to throw rolling to his left. Daley knocks the ball away from Lewis, and Charles Wright wins on the tip drill to make the information!
Kyle Shurmur gets to start the drive at the Vanderbilt 33 and hits Bolar on out for 8. Vaughn catches a pass in the flat then sheds the first tackler after a few yards then shakes off another 10 yards later before tacklers 3 and 4 gang tackle him after 22 yards gained. Bolar is left alone by the zone coverage for 4 yards. Pierce runs a corner from an option route for 21. Kyle Shurmur goes right back to Pierce for 11 on a slant to the 1. Vaughn punches in for a TD via a dive play. 13-10 with 2:20 played in 2nd half.
Florida’s drive does not last long. A coverage mix-up leaves Lewis open on an out. Wiley whiffs while Hammond blocks Williams then Lewis shrugs off Daley’s tackle attempt en route to a 75-yard TD. The Gators get the 7 points right back and bring their advantage to 20-10 with 4:28 left in Q3.
The attempt to claw closer starts well when CJ Bolar makes a catch for 15 yards on a dig route. Vaughn gets the ball twice in a row with nothing gained on a zone then 2 yards on a draw. The run game sputters at the worst times. Play action does get Pinkney free for 18, thankfully. Of course, on the next play, no receivers get open, and Shurmur throws the ball away. Jared Pinkney comes up big again for 29 on a post while Lipscomb on a go route outside him draws away the safety. Back to the ground, Vaughn hits for 5 on a counter. Blasingame steps in and takes the handoff on a stretch play. He powers into the end zone to cap off a 10-yard run! Vanderbilt is within 3 again at 20-17 with 2:19 left in 3rd.
The Gators come out throwing, but Hammond drops a tough catch. Grimes remedies that with an 18-yard reception while falling out of bounds. Wright and Smith blitz from the edges and sandwich Scarlett for a loss of 2. The ball goes right back to Scarlett on a cutback for 14. Van Jefferson catches a screen then Sheffield blows him up to send the ball skittering free! Daley dives on the fumble at the Florida 49.
Starting on the right side of midfield down 3 with 1:41 in the 3rd, the Commodores are in prime position to get the game tied or take the lead. The Florida DB makes an athletic play to knock away Shurmur’s throw on a corner for Lipscomb. With all 4 WR tight, split 2 and 2 on either side of the line, Bolar goes straight up the seam on a LB. Shurmur lobs it deep and right over his shoulder with only green grass to go! Bolar drops it. My controller nearly goes through the TV. Lipscomb catches a curl for 13 on 3rd and 10. I would have been livid if we did not at least convert there. Vaughn gets a little space outside for 6 yards. Pinkney catches on an under route and gets 10 where a gang of Gators tank him down. The ball is just inside the 20. Vaughn is finding a little success now and carries twice for 7 and 6 yards to get the ball to the Florida 7. Bolar drops another pass, but the incompletion was forced by heavy contact at least. The 3rd quarter ends with Vanderbilt threatening. A stretch behind Dobbs and Pinkney gets 5 to the 2. On 3rd down, Vaughn goes off tackle and breaks a goal line tackle attempt for the points! Vanderbilt has taken the lead 24-20 with 6:29 to play!
Cameron Tidd busts straight through Florida’s offensive line, but Franks shrugs him off and immediately darts one to Hammond for 6. A broken play (yeah, it happens) results in Franks tucking the ball and only getting back to the LOS. The QB intentionally keeps on speed option and gets dropped by Wiley 3 yards deep to make it 4th and 7.
Vanderbilt starts at their own 36 after a modest return by Ellis. The crucial drive gets off to a poor start when Tennyson drops a corner for no reason and Shurmur is forced into a throw away to avoid a sack. The pressure recognition proves to be important as Pierce catches for 12 on a slant-and-corner. Mo Hasan enters for the new set of downs near midfield. The first play is a called run to Vaughn for 6 after the defense loaded the option side. The next play is another give after reading the DE for 11. Florida’s DE sets again, knowing what Mo is in the game to do, and Vaughn gains 13 more. Hasan keeps but a breakdown at the line means he loses 1. Shurmur re-enters after the negative play. The situational quarterback proved useful in gaining valuable yards and churning the clock. Shurmur zips a dart between zone defenders then Lipscomb sprints up the middle of the field for a 22-yard TD. The starting QB seems comfortable with the arrangement. Vanderbilt is up 31-20 with 3:29 left in regulation.
Trailing with very little time when needing two scores, Franks’s arm will be crucial. Can Vanderbilt’s defense hold their own to get the victory? The first pass goes to Hammond underneath for 3. Back to the same receiver, Hammond catches an out and turns up field where he is met by Joejuan Williams, but he breaks his tackle even though LaDarius Wiley is diving on Hammond’s back and Tae Daley is also grabbing at him. The strength is impressive or might just be some bad luck with animations. Charles Wright finally makes the tackle after 47 yards at the Vanderbilt 25. The next play is thrown away with no one within 20 yards. Is that not intentional grounding? The QB was on a straight drop. A four-man rush ends with Josiah Sa’o getting a sack. Florida faces 3rd and 15. Tyrie Cleveland comes up with a 16-yard reception, unfortunately. C’yontai Lewis gets 7 on a quick throw before pressure and coverage force another throw away. Kenny Hebert eats up a speed option 2 yards behind the line. The pressure is back on Florida with 4th and 5 at the 9 and 1:55 to play. Failing to convert here will end any hope. Dan Mullens decides the proper personnel is 4 WRs and a TE. The decision is interesting with so little space. The defense goes with press man coverage across the board with 6 pass rushers. Caleb Peart is the free man with only 5 blockers, and Sa’o joins him to make sure Franks goes down!
Vanderbilt takes over at their own 16 with 1:44 standing between them and a very rare win in The Swamp. Florida does have all 3 timeouts. Vaughn only gets 2 on a stretch to start the drive, and Florida takes their first timeout. The play took 4 seconds. Not wanting to be too conservative, Shurmur drops back to pass and has Pierce coming open but is hit just before releasing the pass to cause an incompletion. A completion would have been a first down. The junior QB will throw again and completes to Pinkney but only for 5. Florida’s second timeout of the half comes with 1:34 left and a Vanderbilt punt upcoming. Thome sticks with the rugby punt to prevent a return but miskicks and only gets 37 yards out of it.
Florida starts at their own 39 with no room for error. The clock reads 1:29, and the scoreboard has them trailing by 11. Van Jefferson keeps Gator hope alive with a snag that gains 22. Vanderbilt’s coverage was too soft. Recognizing the error, Vanderbilt brings pressure on the next play, but Jefferson catches again, this time for 14, as Franks flees the pass rushers. The pressure works on the next play as Drew Birchmeier gets the sack! Florida saves the timeout but spikes the ball to leave 3rd and 17 with 1:03 to play. Franks checks down to Davis for 7 yards. On 4th down, Vanderbilt’s defense gets caught changing coverages, and Jordan Scarlett catches for 14 yards and a first down. On 1st down, Franks gets the ball away just as two Commodores drag him down with the ball falling incomplete. Joejuan Williams drops a chance to seal the game with an end zone interception. Grimes beats Daley for a TD to give the Gators a glimmer of hope. The touchdown leaves Vanderbilt up 31-26 with 27 ticks on the clock, and Florida is going for 2. Cleveland drops the pass. I guess Florida wanted a chance to win on a FG instead of going to OT as the home underdog.
CJ Bolar easily handles the onside kick attempt. Shurmur kneels on the Gator logo, and Florida takes their final timeout with 25 seconds remaining. The QB gets to kneel at midfield again to let the clock run to all zeroes. Chomp. Chomp.
|3rd Down Conv.||7/11||7/14|
|4th Down Conv.||0/0||1/2|
The big names for Vanderbilt made the big plays. Kyle Shurmur was 26/39 passing for 343 yards with 1 TD and 1 INT but was sacked four times and kneeled twice to leave him with -47 yards rushing. Ke’Shawn Vaughn carried the ball 16 times for 83 yards and 2 scores. Mo Hasan only had 1 carry for -1 yards. Khari Blasingame’s lone carry was the 10-yard TD. Jared Pinkney and Kalija Lipscomb both had 7 catches with Pinkney gaining 106 yards while Lipscomb had 83 yards and a TD. Chris Pierce caught 6 passes for 97 yards. CJ Bolar snagged 3 tosses for 27 yards. Vaughn chipped in 2 receptions for 29 yards. Blasingame had 1 catch for 1 yard. Defensively, several guys had big plays even if the team gave up a ton of yards and too many points. LaDarius Wiley led the way with 7 tackles, all solo efforts, with two being tackles for loss. Josh Smith had 6 tackles, also all solo, with 1 being for loss. Charles Wright had the important interception along with 4 tackles, of which 3 were unassisted. Josiah Sa’o had only 2 tackles but both were sacks. Dare Odeyingbo had 1 sack and another TFL along with 2 other tackles, all of which were solo. Dayo Odeyingbo’s only contribution was 1 sack. The same was true for Cameron Tidd. The reliable Parker Thome punted 4 times for 186 with a net of 166 and 2 downed inside 20. Ryley Guay made his lone attempted FG from 46 yards.
On the recruiting trail, a very important offensive tackle with an overall of 74 will be on campus for a visit. Joining him will be a diamond in the rough athlete who is listed as a 77 OVR with lots of potential to be a great CB. His ratings include a 90 in speed, 92 in acceleration, 89 in man coverage, and 81 in press, but his 81 in agility is concerning and could keep him at safety. Sadly, Michigan has made a late push and might swoop him. In general, a few JUCO stop-gaps look likely, but any help on the offensive line has been tough to sway. The other needs should be filled well though.
The two visitors will be in for an interesting matchup. Vanderbilt is ranked at #16 in the Coaches Poll and #15 in both the Media Poll and BCS rankings. Meanwhile, Kentucky is #10. The recruits would surely love to see a win over a conference foe who is ranked above their potential school Furthermore, the win against Florida means beating the Wildcats will clench Vanderbilt’s place in the SEC Championship Game.
Team Rankings Preview
|Points Per Game||31.7 (#19)||28.0 (#41)|
|Total Offense||366.0 (#52)||392.3 (#28)|
|Rush Offense||86.1 (#124)||206.8 (#21)|
|Pass Offense||279.9 (#6)||185.6 (#65)|
|Total Defense||409.4 (#120)||308.0 (#27)|
|Rush Defense||76.7 (#1)||149.6 (#48)|
|Pass Defense||332.8 (#126)||158.4 (#24)|
|Turnover Diff.||10 (#3)||4 (#31)|
Kentucky has a very good, run-first offense. Their defense is similarly competent with a particular ability to stop opposing passing attacks. Of course, they will likely use a spread attack and use their slot receivers and tight ends to rip apart the Vanderbilt defense while their running game is held in check except for one or two big runs. The team stats rarely matter with the lack of variation in most in-game schemes.
With the season winding down and most of my ideas put forth and voted on, there is no poll this week. Your ideas are always welcome though! And, remember, THEY are coming up after Kentucky if you want to put some ideas for that game to vote.