I am old, fat, and don’t work out, yet I don’t have heart problems except for three hours every Saturday of this fall. I wonder of Urban Meyer is just messing with guys like me and likes to make these games closer than they need to be. The Gators went to Nashville Saturday and clearly outmatched Vanderbilt only to make a game that could and should have gotten out of hand a heck of a nail biter.
At 22-6 just after half it looked like it was about to be a steam roller of a game. Fast forward to Vanderbilt attempting an onsides kick with a chance to recover and snag the lead from the Gators with just two minutes to go in the game, this became just another win for the Cardiac kids in Orange and Blue.
On a day that saw the Gators air it out more and take some chances with the deep ball, they faired pretty well when the ball was completed. The Gators had nine plays over 15 yards which is a significantly high number. Six of those came through the air. Likewise, the Gators had seven bad plays in the passing game, giving up three interceptions and four sacks.
One could say that the running game wasn’t good (2.9 average), but the statistics are a little deceiving. There were 30 lost yards on four sacks and an errant option pitch that lost 12 yards. The fact is the two main rushers in DeShawn Wynn and Tim Tebow both averaged over 4 yards per carry for the game. The offense just saw a better shot at making the big play via the air and they were probably right. One negative note was Wynn’s tap dancing on the next to last series when the Gators were trying to run the clock, he certainly could and should have had a first down on a couple of runs in that series.
The offensive line switches may have had some thing to do with the problems, but the open receivers were there all day.
Quarterback Chris Leak needs to be held responsible for the last interception. He threw that one into good coverage. I give him a pass on the two previous as he was hit from behind on one and a linebacker made a great drop into coverage on the other. Still, on those two extra care needs to be taken when in the red zone so the team can get some kind of points.
Speaking of some kind of points, it was good to see Chris Hetland make a field goal for only the second time this season. The ship shot may not be enough to cure his psyche, but he hit it solid and down the middle.
I really thought the Gators were on their way to having a field day on offense and leaving 14 or so points on the field by turning it over in the red zone sure dampens that. Vanderbilt should be given a little credit as they made some good defensive plays in the game and never allowed the momentum to really stay on the Gators side.
The Gator defense did the two main things they needed to do to win. They kept quarterback Chris Nickson in the pocket and rarely let him beat them with his feet and they only gave up one big play to star wide receiver Earl Bennett. Still, this was most likely the defenses’ worst game of the year and again a lot of credit has to go to the Commodores for making some big plays.
It was an excellent game called by the Commodores, they knew the Gators were going to have to provide the rush from the outside with Marcus Thomas being held out, so they used a package of short screens and draw plays to take advantage of that outside rush. Vandy had three draw plays of over 12 yards including a 30 yard run in the second half.
The Gator’ defense held them in check for almost the entire first half (only one score). The pressure was relentless from the outside and the mobile Nickson was running a lot for his life. A Ryan Smith interception and constant bad field position due to special teams kept Vanderbilt at bay.
The defense also got burned a few times on the slant pass in long yardage situations. The last touchdown was a slant pass that got away.
Special teams were pretty special. Two blocked punts, 1-1 on field goal attempts, and a long punt return from Brandon James—all which had a chance to be huge in the game and all played their parts in the win one way or another. With all of that, it is just amazing this game was still as close as it was.
I may have to get a new medication for the end of the season. The cardiac kids just want to make a game out of everything. A frustrated Meyer kind of summed that notion up after the game when he told Sun Sports TV, “If we don’t turn it over, there is no momentum on that other sideline.”
Sure coach, but how fun would that be? Maybe we all just like to pull our hair out and yell at the television wondering what in the world this team has to do to have a not so close win. Or maybe not.
Time to call the doctor and see if there is a weekend medication he can prescribe for the rest of the season…