Tale of the Tape: Florida vs. Vanderbilt

Every week, Gator Country will take a look at the previous game’s film to make note of things that may not have stood out on the initial view of the game.

We’ll do our best to point out any interesting notes, facts, figures and trends that stand out on a week-to-week basis to provide you with a better idea of what took place on Saturday.

Today, we review the game film from Florida’s win against Vanderbilt and hand out some awards for the most impressive player on film and other players who stood out.

Tale of the Tape: Vanderbilt

OVERVIEW: Things looked a lot more like the first month of the season than the second against Vanderbilt for the Gators, at least in the first half.

Florida finally was able to establish a running game, churning out more yards against Vanderbilt than the team did in the previous four games combined.

Part of the increase in production was due to the installation of the pistol, which allowed the Gators to operate with their normal running game instead of the pass-heavy package the team used against Georgia.

Florida ran a lot of its tradition I-formation plays from the pistol formation, and the extra split-second of delay in the handoff actually seemed to improve the running backs’ ability to find a hole and hit it in the running game.

Some of that was simply due to Vandy missing a handful of tackles near the line of scrimmage that a better team might have made, but it looked a lot like the improved vision and bigger holes had something to do with that extra split-second.

Hunter Joyer also had a bigger impact in the running game than he has in a few weeks. He had some terrific blocks throughout the game, freeing up a couple big runs.

While Florida will likely return to almost exclusively running from the I-formation when Brantley is healthy again, it’s worth at least giving the pistol a look in the future, as some backs may run more effectively out of it than the I-formation.

If nothing else, the pistol gives Florida a temporary solution to Brantley’s ankle injury, while giving opponents something else to look at on tape.

The ability to run out of the pistol also opened up a lot of play-action passes for the Gators. Brantley nearly doubled his completion percentage from a week ago, hitting a little less than 67 percent of his passes.

Brantley was able to work the ball to several different receivers, hitting eight targets in the game.

The wide receivers were actually much more involved than normal, making eight of Florida’s 17 catches in the game, with three receivers catching multiple passes.

Andre Debose showed the ability to get open over the middle, which is something he has now done in a handful of games. If he can do that consistently, he can become a much bigger part of the offense.

On the other hand, the tight end position was a little more of a mixed bag in terms of results.

Jordan Reed had a poor game aside from recovering the crucial onside kick, while freshman A.C. Leonard put together his best performance of the year.

Leonard snagged one pass, but also had a number of key blocks, including the pivotal inside seal block on Jeff Demps’ clinching 52-yard touchdown run to the left side.

The issue so far this season for Leonard has been mental mistakes, as he’s had a few bonehead penalties and route-running problems. There were no signs of those against Vanderbilt.

The offensive line played a pretty good game, although there were a few individual breakdowns.

The most obvious concern was the trouble snapping the ball center Jon Harrison had. Several of his snaps were high before he eventually launched one over Brantley’s head for a 21-yard loss.

He was replaced by Sam Robey, who did a better job of snapping the football. How Florida plays the center position this week will be interesting to watch, because Harrison has been one of the top blockers on the line throughout the season.

Left guard Dan Wenger also left the game early after seemingly aggravating an injured left foot, and Kyle Koehne took over in his place. Koehne was very good throughout the game, showing few breakdowns and getting a couple really nice blocks in the run game.

Koehne has played well throughout the season and has been Wenger’s equal or better, at least in my eyes. Wenger obviously adds a lot in terms of knowledge of the offense, though.

Xavier Nixon played a better game up front, though he was called for a false start penalty again early in the game. Matt Patchan had a very good game on the right side.

Defensively, Florida came out playing almost exclusively in the nickel package with Matt Elam at the nickelback spot.

That was likely in part due to both Jelani Jenkins and Lerentee McCray being out for the game, but it was also clearly an attempt to get Elam closer to the line of scrimmage.

Elam has excelled at the line and has been better than any of Florida’s linebackers making plays behind the line of scrimmage this season. His play has been outstanding all season.

With Florida almost exclusively in the nickel, Darrin Kitchens didn’t play quite as much as expected in place of Lerentee McCray. There wasn’t a whole lot to evaluate in terms of his play.

Mike Taylor played extensively in place of Jelani Jenkins, though. While he was around the ball constantly and finished with a team-leading seven tackles, he also missed a number of tackles after overpursuing that were costly.

Taylor missed four tackles in the game and was outrun to the sideline on one 10-yard run by the Commodores.

Jon Bostic didn’t have a very noticeable impact on the game in one of his quieter outings. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but he didn’t really stand out, either.

Florida’s defensive line played well once again, though gap containment was an issue on a handful of plays that allowed Vanderbilt quarterback Jordan Rodgers to scramble for good yardage.

Ronald Powell continued to apply good pressure off the edge. Though he was completely ineffective a handful of times, his effort continues to improve and he’s becoming more consistently disruptive.

Sharrif Floyd had another big game, and Dominique Easley blew up a number of plays despite narrowly missing the tackle on most of them. His ability to penetrate often leaves teammates the beneficiary of some easy tackles behind the line of scrimmage.

The secondary play was a little concerning for Florida, as Vanderbilt receivers were able to get open with some regularity.

Part of that was simply Rodgers’ ability to scramble and extend plays, as a few big gains came on plays that lasted a good four to five seconds.

However, a recurring issue for the secondary was having good coverage but failing to make a play on the ball as it arrived to the receiver.

Jaylen Watkins has been particularly guilty of this throughout the year, but he turned in arguably the best half in coverage of any Florida defensive back this year during the second half after being beaten a couple times in the first half.

Freshman Marcus Roberson had some issues turning his head around and locating the ball, and he also missed a tackle that resulted in a couple extra yards. He had probably his worst game of the year, which is a positive considering it wasn’t awful, either.

The safety play was about on part with the rest of the year, with both Pop Saunders and Josh Evans beaten once or twice.

Josh Shaw played a pretty good game rotating in with both of the other two, and he played very well closer to the line of scrimmage in run support.


For the second straight week, the nod here for player of the week has to go to Matt Elam. Elam blew one play in coverage, but continues to be the most consistent player on the defense.

His ability to play near the line of scrimmage is unparalleled on the team right now, and he consistently makes plays in the backfield and takes away opposing teams’ lateral running games to his side.

Elam is a sure tackler, racking up five tackles with three for a loss against Vanderbilt. He also strung out another play or two toward the sideline and forced a throw out of bounds from Rodgers on a quick blitz on one play.

He’s been Florida’s best player so far this season, and there’s a marginal gap between him and the next guy.

Honorable Mention: RB Jeff Demps, FB Hunter Joyer, DT Dominique Easley


While he had the most important play of the game when he pulled down the onside kick, the pick this week for most disappointing player is tight end Jordan Reed.

Reed has been targeted more than anyone lately, but he has had his share of drops for a guy who is supposed to be able to make the tough catches over the middle.

He was targeted a game-high seven times against the Commodores and came up with three catches. The problem was that each of the other four passes was catchable. Three hit him squarely in the hands and should not have been dropped.

The fourth would have been a tough catch on a ball thrown behind his body, but he was still able to get his hands on it and just couldn’t come up with it. Let’s put it this way, if Deonte Thompson had dropped those same four passes, fans would be screaming to the high heavens for him to find his place on the bench.

He also missed an opportunity to fall on Omarius Hines’ fumble in the end zone on the opening drive.


  • Florida was finally able to get the running game going after a month of futility, and the Gators rushed for more yards against Vanderbilt than they did in the entire month of October combined with a 197-yard rushing performance. Florida also averaged its highest yards per carry since the Kentucky game, averaging 4.3 yards a pop.
  • The Gators also had more success running to the left than they’ve had in the past month. The left has been the strong side for runs this season, with Florida averaging 6.6 yards per carry on runs left, 3.7 yards per carry on runs to the middle and 5.5 yards per carry on runs right.
  • Florida threw its fewest amount of passes down the field in a game Saturday against Vanderbilt. The Gators only attempted one counted pass attempt more than 20 yards from the line of scrimmage, though Jacoby Brissett threw one late in the game that drew a pass interference penalty that was deep down the right sideline. The only other game Florida attempted only one deep pass in was the Tennessee game.
  • On the season, the Gators have thrown 22.8 percent of their passes behind the line of scrimmage, 39.7 percent from the line of scrimmage to 10 yards downfield, 22.8 percent from 10 to 20 yards and 13.8 percent more than 20 yards from the line of scrimmage.
  • Of the 12 zones tracked, the Gators have completed 23 passes from 0-10 yards on the right, 22 passes behind the line of scrimmage on the left and 21 passes from 0-10 yards over the middle.
  • In the last five games, tight end Jordan Reed has been targeted more than any receiver on the roster has been throughout the course of the season. He has been targeted in the passing game 34 times in the past five games for an average of 6.8 targets per game. He has 14 catches in that span.
  • Florida’s targets are as follows: Jordan Reed (40), Chris Rainey (34), Deonte Thompson (30), Trey Burton (25), Frankie Hammond Jr. (21), Andre Debose (17), Jeff Demps (16), Quinton Dunbar (15), Gerald Christian (7), Omarius Hines (4), Solomon Patton (3), Hunter Joyer (2), A.C. Leonard (1).
  • Defensively, Florida had its best game against the run since the Tennessee game. The Gators gave up less than 100 yards rushing for the first time since playing the Volunteers back in mid-September, allowing the Commodores to rush for just 80 yards.
  • The Gators also kept the Commodores to just 2.4 yards per carry, the best since allowing -0.4 yards per carry against Tennesse. The 2.4 yards per carry average was the third-best total of the season, behind only Tennessee and Florida Atlantic.
  • Despite the improved numbers against the run, the Gators were worse against the pass. Florida has been beaten with some consistency deep down the field over the past four games. After giving up only one completion on a pass thrown more than 20 yards from the line of scrimmage in the first five games, the Gators have given up eight such completions in the past four games.
  • Vanderbilt connected on 4-of-5 passes thrown more than 20 yards from the line of scrimmage, by far the highest percentage of any team this season. Only LSU had managed to complete more than 50 percent of its deep attempts against the Gators, with the Tigers connecting on 2-of-3.
  • Even with the improved deep-ball numbers for opposing teams over the past few games, Florida is still giving up just a 38.5 percent completion percentage on passes thrown more than 10 yards from the line of scrimmage this season.

All statistics cited above are unofficial based upon review of the game film from Florida vs. Vanderbilt. Below you can find an unofficial play-by-play breakdown and offensive statistics beyond the standard NCAA statistics. All statistics compiled by GatorCountry.com.

Unofficial Play-by-Play Breakdown

Unofficial Statistics