For entertainment purposes only, the staff here at GatorCountry.com each put together five predictions for the No. 4 Florida Gators’ game at Vanderbilt, which kicks off at 6:02 p.m. Saturday on ESPNU. The Gators are 5-0 overall and 4-0 in Southeastern Conference play while the Commodores are 2-3 and 1-2.
Several of the predictions involve Jeff Driskel, Mike Gillislee and whether the Gators’ defense will continue its season-long, fourth-quarter shutout streak as well as how it will handle facing another mobile quarterback in Vanderbilt’s Jordan Rodgers. Our staff also has some predictions on Jeff Dillman as well as the play of Matt Elam, Sharrif Floyd, Jaylen Watkins, Jordan Reed, Kyle Christy and others.
We put these in alphabetical order by each staffer’s last name, in order not to play favorites and also find another way to keep Gator Country recruiting analyst Andrew Spivey down. He’ll say we saved the best for last, but in reality, his seat is at the back of the bus.
Now, on to our game-day predictions:
1) At least 10 “Aaron Rodgers” references via the telecast when Vandy is on offense. Gators baseball fans are used to being inundated with the name of former New York Yankees shortstop Bucky Dent whenever UF third baseman Cody Dent plays. Today will be no different when ‘Dores signal-caller Jordan Rodgers take the field. Yes, his older brother is Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers … Say, did you know Cody Dent is Bucky Dent’s son?
2) The Gators will stop Jordan Rodgers’ legs. After Texas A&M dual-threat quarterback Johnny Manziel shredded Florida’s over-pursuing defense in the first half of the Gators’ 20-17 win on Sept. 8, UF will get its second opportunity to see an athletic quarterback and will not need any “halftime adjustments” to stop him.
3) Mike Gillislee will be held under 100 yards. Gilly is coming off a career-high 34 carries in last week’s 14-6 win against LSU. If the Gators grab a two-score lead early, the 5-foot-11, 209-pound key to their offense should be on the sidelines as soon as possible. While Gillislee’s toughness should not be questioned, we really don’t know how durable he is at this point. He can match his 5.3 yards per carry mark in this game, but he will only have up to 15 touches.
4) Matt Elam will make another GIF-worthy hit and taunt. *Gators coach Will Muschamp has been giving quite a few examples lately of people he believes are “Will Muschamp guys.” So far, inexplicably, Elam has not earned that badge of honor from his coach. While third-person characterizations are never a good thing, Elam has been playing like a man-possessed this season and will not let up against Vanderbilt. It would be no surprise if he eventually does put someone to sleep. (courtesy of ThrowtheFlagBlog.com).
5) Florida finally will give up a point in the fourth quarter. Yes, the biggest statistical source of pride for this year’s Florida defense will end. Though Vanderbilt may not start fast or be an offensive powerhouse, the Commodores do have a reliable running back in Zac Stacy (414 yards, 5.5 yards per carry) and are not anemic passing the ball. Whether the Gators are still playing their starters or not, the Commodores will get at least a field goal in the final quarter today.
1) Florida will win. I cannot believe only one of these other yahoos predicted that one. The last betting odds I’ve noticed had the Gators as 8.5-point favorites, and they easily cover that margin.
2) Instead of establishing the run early, the Gators get the passing game going. They actually have more passing yards than running yards (117 passing, 115 rushing) in the first half, just to keep defenses guessing and to get some quality work in on the passing game. They may need it to win a bigger game down the road.
3) Jeff Dillman will yell at a Gators player. This prediction takes the “Master of the Obvious” title.
4) Sharrif Floyd comes up with his second career blocked field goal to preserve the shutout. I figured I’d throw in at least one somewhat bold prediction after the Dillman one.
5) Mike Gillislee breaks the 100-yard mark with his final run of the first half, a 27-yard touchdown. Hunter Joyer blocks all 11 defenders on the play. Oh wait, that bonehead Spivey predicts this, too. So, instead, I say either Caleb Sturgis misses a field goal or Kyle Christy shanks a punt — proving they’re human — because the forecast calls for windy conditions.
1.) Jeff Driskel will have a huge day through the air. The sophomore is primed for a breakout game in the passing department, and with Vandy’s defense sure to be keying on Mike Gillislee, Driskel will definitely be forced to make some plays with his arm.
2.) The player benefitting the most from Driskel’s passes will be — Jordan Reed. Reed was awfully quiet against LSU, possibly by design considering the success of the Gators’ ground game. However, Reed will go over 100 yards receiving as Vanderbilt will have no answer for the talented tight end.
3.) The defensive line will have a huge game. While the defense has played well this season, Florida is still tied with — ironically, Vanderbilt ¬– at 11th in the conference in sacks with nine. With an improved secondary this season, the Gators’ line could be the beneficiary of a flustered Jordan Rodgers, leading to a few sacks.
4.) The atmosphere will be electric … for at least a quarter anyway. With this being Vandy’s first home sellout in four years, the Gators should be in for a frenzied atmosphere to start the game. The Commodores have had a few electric atmospheres in recent history, including 2008 when College Game Day originated from Nashville and saw the ‘Dores upset No. 13 Auburn. Vanderbilt also had an impressive crowd for its season opener against South Carolina earlier this season.
5.) A true freshman will have a big game. With the Gators at the midpoint of the season, the contributing true freshmen finally have a handle on how to approach game-week preparations. Look for one of them have to breakout game. Specifically on the defensive side of the ball. (cough, Dante Fowler).
1) Jaylen Watkins records his third interception in as many games. On a pass intended for Jordan Matthews, Watkins flips the field position for the Gators before halftime.
2) Lerentee McCray records two sacks in the game. Tied for the team lead coming into the game, McCray doubles up on Rodgers to take a two-sack lead over Jon Bostic.
3) Quinton Dunbar catches his second touchdown of the season. Similar to his touchdown reception against Kentucky, Dunbar goes over the middle to haul in the score.
4) The streak ends. With Florida ahead comfortably, Vanderbilt kicks a late field goal to snap the Gators’ fourth-quarter shutout streak.
5) Matt Elam turns into the Incredible Hulk. OK, not really, but he will do something that makes you stop and say ‘Wow.’
1) Andre Debose makes a least one boneheaded play during the Vanderbilt game.
2) Kyle Christy gets the Gators out of two tough jams near their own end zone by punting a few bombs in the 50- to 60-yard range.
3) The Gators will get off to a slow start and not pull away for the victory until the 3rd quarter (but let’s be honest … what else would you expect?)
4) Jeff Driskel will have 200 passing yards (the same amount of points scored between West Virginia and Texas Tech).
5) Matt Elam picks off two passes, leading the Gators to a big day defensively.
1) Mike Gillislee runs for a 100 yards in the first half against a bad Vanderbilt rush defense. Gillislee will not see much time in the second half as Muschamp will give Mack Brown and Matt Jones some reps.
2) Three turnovers created by the Florida defense. The pressure created by Florida will force Rodgers to throw the ball quicker than he wants and the defense will have three turnovers.
3) Jacoby Brissett throws his first touchdown this year in the fourth quarter on a third-down-and-long play that Brent Pease allows him to throw.
4) Several freshman will see significant time due to a blowout win and the coaching staff wanting to rest their starters for next week’s South Carolina game.
5) A 30-point victory for the Gators and they move to 6-0 with South Carolina heading to Gainesville next week.