Undisciplined football leads to 31-24 loss to Vanderbilt


Despite Anthony Richardson having a big game from a statistical standpoint, this entire team quickly reverted to their old ways in Saturday’s loss to Vanderbilt.

It wasn’t the outcome many expected, and you could argue this team looked the worst they have all season. Florida’s running game, which has been the strength of this football team, was non-existent Saturday. Montrell Johnson and Trevor Etienne combined for 41 yards on 15 carries, while Anthony Richardson rarely used his legs as he finished the night with 25 rushing yards on four carries. 

However, the story of Saturday’s game was the lack of discipline and urgency. On top of constant missed tackles on defense and rarely executing on either side of the football, Florida finished the day with 80 yards on seven penalties. 

“I think some of the penalties are technical, but I also think that we lost our composure at times today,” Napier said on penalties. “I think we retaliated one time. We played a little bit beyond the whistle. I do think there are some technical penalties there, that are bang-bang. Not necessarily undisciplined penalties, outside of those two that I mentioned. I think those are decision-making in the moment. They’re technical things that we can do better. We’ll look at those and certainly evaluate them.”

This Florida team didn’t do the little things Saturday, and the Gators know that. There’s a lot this football team still needs to get a grip on from a consistency standpoint. 

Although the momentum has been shot, the Gators have a big game to prepare for next week. 

“Well, it’s a setback,” Napier said on Saturday’s loss. “There’s no question about it. Problems are often opportunities in disguise. I think it’s a little bit of a reality check to some degree, that we got to do these things. We got to take care of the ball. We got to eliminate the penalties. We have to rush the ball effectively. We exposed some of our depth issues.”

“There’s lots of things that this can teach us. Ultimately, that’s what’s important here – that we learn from the experience. I think our group is well-versed on what winning football looks like. We did not do what is required to win today,” Napier said.

With the Gators traveling to Tallahassee next Friday to face the Noles, this team is already focused on cleaning up their issues in order to win that football game. 

“It’s very difficult when you lose the game. We play football. Nobody loves to lose. We love to win, but it’s very difficult just knowing that we didn’t play well today. We know why we lost, that wasn’t our best ball and we have to put this aside tomorrow and come out next week to try to win that game,” Amari Burney said on the outcome of Saturday’s game.

The stakes are still the same and this staff and team have a lot to fix if they want to beat Florida State. For many, it may seem very unlikely for the Gators to escape Tallahassee with a win, but this team is very capable of playing winning football.

Anthony Richardson and the running game can’t be left back in Gainesville again, and this defense can’t continue to play the way they have for most of the season.

If those two things happen next week, Florida State is going to make Florida look a lot worse than Vanderbilt did in Saturday’s first loss in Nashville since 1988.

Gentry Hawk
Gentry Hawk is a student at the University of Florida studying sports journalism. He is a writer and reporter for GatorCountry. You can find most of his work on Twitter @gentryhawkgc, or right here on Gator country.