Florida-Vanderbilt Preview

Sandwiched between contests against top-five opponents, Florida

faces a Vanderbilt team it hasn’t lost to in nearly a

quarter-century.

While the matchup has the making of a potential trap game, Will

Muschamp insists his team is not about to overlook the Commodores,

especially after surviving a close call against them at home a year

ago.

Coming off an emotional victory, the fourth-ranked Gators go for

their 22nd straight win over Vanderbilt on Saturday in

Nashville.

Florida (5-0, 4-0 SEC) moved up six spots in the latest poll

after defeating then-No. 4 LSU 14-6 last Saturday. Mike Gillislee

ran for a career-high 146 yards and two touchdowns while the

defense limited the Tigers to 200 yards in avenging last season’s

41-11 loss in Baton Rouge.

“They beat us down last year,” said safety Matt Elam, who

forced a key fumble. “We had something to prove.”

The Commodores (2-3, 1-2) are fully aware of what it’s like to

be beaten down by an SEC rival, having dropped 21 straight to the

Gators since a 24-9 win in 1988.

Despite the one-sided series with Vanderbilt – loser of 15

straight against ranked teams – and a home contest versus No. 3

South Carolina next weekend, Florida is focused on the task at

hand.

“Our guys have worked hard and I don’t see a whole lot of

difference in how they approach every day and how they’ve

approached each game so far this year,” Muschamp said. “We’re not

going to put any more hours in as coaches this week than we did a

week ago, we’re not going put any less, either. We’re going to

prepare very similar to what we’ve done thus far in the season, as

far as what we’ve got to do to be successful and that’s winning the

football game.”

Winning came easy for the Gators against the Commodores from

2007-10, with the games decided by an average of 30.0 points.

It was a different story last season, though, as Florida pulled

out a 26-21 victory. Vanderbilt’s Jordan Rodgers threw for 297

yards and two touchdowns and also scored on an 8-yard run.

“He’s a guy that’s very effective throwing it but he will pull

down in any spot and run the ball, so pass rush discipline is going

to be key.” Muschamp said. “He hurt us with his legs last year and

he hurt us throwing the ball. He’s a guy that in every call you

have to understand that there could be an option situation.”

Rodgers didn’t have one of his better games last Saturday

against Missouri, finishing with a season-low 182 passing yards and

an interception, but Vanderbilt’s defense came up big in a 19-15

victory.

The Commodores did have the advantage of facing a redshirt

freshman quarterback after the Tigers’ starter got injured. Though

they won’t be lined up against one of the nation’s premier passers

this week, stopping Gillislee poses a whole other set of

challenges.

The Gators make no secret about running the ball – their 47.2

attempts per game are among the nation’s most – but the combination

of a physical offensive line and Gillislee’s ability to hit the

hole makes it hard to stop.

Jeff Driskel attempted just 12 passes against LSU and Florida

ran on its final 25 snaps, but the Tigers still couldn’t stuff

Gillislee. The senior, who leads the SEC with 109.6 rushing yards

per game, didn’t finish with a negative run on any of his 34

attempts.

“I think that’s where talent, size and power come in,”

Vanderbilt coach James Franklin said of Florida’s ground game.

“They have a really good offensive line that has grown and matured,

and they have a really good back who can make plays.”

The Commodores have had little luck stopping the run in their

two games against ranked foes, surrendering a combined 507 rushing

yards against South Carolina and Georgia.