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

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?


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.


A little bit of Schadenfreude that I'm sure was mentioned yesterday

Alabama 66-Ole Miss 3
Holy shnikies, too bad we were the first game so we couldn’t have had the "well they beat Ole Miss by 63 so you can’t really hope for too much"

unless they smash the whole conference like that

all its going to do is drive them to say LOL MISSISSIPPI IS WORSE THAN VANDY

Of course, them smashing the whole conference like that isn't out of the question

I thought Mason was going to burn that Alabama footage

But giving it to the Titans works too, I guess.

certainly possible

I was just saying that maybe if Bama smashes the whole conferernce, the SEC will finally get off it’s butt and actually pursue them for NCAA violations

Thanks, Good Read.....Any technique issues along our O-line that bear mentioning by you and your X's and O's colleagues?

I don't know about you

but I take pride that in the most challenging FBS conference, VU has committed to compete every game without compromising its integrity. There’s an honor in that which goes beyond any 10 win season or trip to Atlanta.

You are exactly right

On defense and offense lines, long and lean is not getting it done.

We're not undersized on the OL

Our starting 5 average 312 pounds with the lightest being 300. There’s not a list for this season that I can find, but that would have been good for 5th heaviest in the SEC last year with Alabama’s line being the heaviest at 316.6 pounds. The average of our 2-deep is 309.6 pounds which would still have been the 5th heaviest last year. Whether it’s good, actually leaner, weight is not something I know. The DL is a bit small for a 3-4 though.

Athleticism is born

And at very high level athletics, basically anything you would watch on TV, athleticism (sometimes also called explosiveness) is a major advantage. Strength and size can be learned (you can’t "learn" to be taller but it is possible for a healthy human being to train their way into obscene strength), but what can be called the stretch-reflex action is basically limited by genetic factors. This is basically translated as the ability for the musculo-nueral network to go from starting at rest to peak force production in a very short amount of time. This is why the standing vertical jump is the simplest way to identify athletically-gifted individuals from a very young age. This is all very well established in the medical literature.

The point of this drawn-out medical lecture (aside from the fact that this is a Vanderbilt board) is that while all D1-P5 athletes can have stellar weight-training, nutrition, recovery equipment, individual instruction and team coaching, the most athletically-gifted athletes are going to win their one-on-one competitions with their athletically-less-talented competitors. That’s at the root of the fundamental difference between 4* and 5* recruits and the 3* and 2* guys that we make due with. You can’t teach athleticism.


You can train yourself to your athletic/genetic limit, and that may put you above the large majority of the population…
but in the end where that limit is decides everything in terms of getting into sports at this level and up.

Well, that and how quickly your body is willing to do it. Some people have a harder hill to climb than others in that regard.

Great explanation

thank you

I guess I need to clarify my statement about "undersized"

We almost certainly don’t have the best athletes on most SEC Saturdays. I just wanted to point out that where we used to be both much smaller AND less talented up front, we’re mostly just lacking the high-ceiling linemen that top programs have. We now have the outright bulk even if the ability isn’t there yet.

Admire you (honestly)

I wish I shared that enthusiasm. It simply isn’t something my family and I enjoy from a fan perspective. The good news is that my shallow support isn’t required to achieve the typical results over the last 30 years.

Webb Seems Off.

As you said, he hasn’t really done anything. To me, he seems to treat every carry as if they are trying to milk the clock to ice a victory – two hands on the ball, head down, run into the pile and don’t fumble. He seems a step or two slower as well. Obviously the run blocking is not nearly as good as it has been the past two years, but I think even then we knew his production came from making the most of what he was given on any play, but he was never a back who "made things happen," if that makes sense.

Wakefield in limited playing time just seems to have a different level of intensity when he runs the ball. Head up, looking to find room to run, kind of like Blasingame but with more speed and agility. Of course, all we know of Wakefield is the coaching staff’s effusive praise for his work in practice and that one great run on Saturday.

I’m sure it is very rare for a decorated Senior to lose playing time to a younger RB, but maybe a little more distribution of the carries to Wakefield is a necessity at this point. Whatever they are trying with Ralph hasn’t worked against anyone and has gotten us nothing, and I don’t see him suddenly making something of nothing.

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