VANDERBILT (2-6, 1-4) vs. FLORIDA (5-3, 3-3)
11:21 a.m. (CDT), Saturday
Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville
TV: SEC TV (Comcast, Ch. 14) Radio: WRQQ-FM 97.1
About the Commodores:
• They have allowed an average of 362 passing yards over their last three games, including 417 to Arkansas in last week’s 49-14 loss.
• They have the most punts (60) in the SEC. Tennessee (44) has the second most. Richard Kent averages 39.8 net yards per punt, which ranks third in the SEC.
• Placekicker Ryan Fowler hasn’t had a chance to be much of a factor this season. Fowler has attempted just four field goals and has made three of them. He last attempted a field goal Oct. 9 against Eastern Michigan. Every other team in the conference has attempted at least eight field goals.
• With running back Warren Norman having season-ending surgery Tuesday for a dislocated wrist, tailbacks Zac Stacy, Wesley Tate and Kennard Reeves and quarterback Larry Smith will all see their carries increase. Norman led the team with 459 yards and four touchdowns on 77 rushes. Stacy (56 rushes, 321 yards, three TDs) and Smith (75 rushes, 205 yards, three TDs) have already been big contributors to a rush offense that ranks ninth in the SEC.
About the Gators:
• They have averaged 194 passing yards over their last three games and have failed to eclipse 300 yards passing in a single game this season.
• They have the third fewest punts (28) in the SEC. Chas Henry’s 43.8 net yards per punt ranks first in the SEC.
• Henry also has dabbled in the placekicking duties this season. He nailed a 37-yard field goal in overtime on Saturday to defeat Georgia 34-31 and earned SEC special teams player of the week honors. He has filled in for the injured Caleb Sturgis, who hasn’t played since Sept. 25. Henry had missed four straight before making his last two against Georgia. The senior is 4-of-8 this season.
• Like Vanderbilt, they enjoy a crowded backfield. Jeff Demps leads the way with 488 yards and three touchdowns on 78 attempts. But wide receiver Trey Burton has shown he can be dangerous, with 10 rushing touchdowns and 248 yards on 49 carries. Emmanuel Moody (48 carries) and Mike Gillislee (37 carries) also play into the mix.
Something to consider:
• Florida has won 19 straight against Vanderbilt. A 24-9 victory in 1988 was the last time the Commodores defeated the Gators.
• Last week’s game against Georgia marked the first time under coach Urban Meyer that Florida had been unranked. The Gators have been in the top 10 a total of 62 times under Meyer, who is in his sixth year at Florida.
• Florida is tied with Air Force for playing the most true freshmen (17) in the country. Vanderbilt has 13 true freshmen that have seen action this season.
“Some of their freshmen were some of the most sought after recruits in America so it does make a little bit of a difference,” Vanderbilt coach Robbie Caldwell said. “(Florida’s freshmen) seem to be getting ready now, getting prepared and feeling the system so they are going to be pretty strong.”
Vanderbilt doesn’t have to play a ranked opponent this week – both South Carolina and Arkansas were No. 19t in the AP poll when the Commodores played them the last two games. But Florida is coming off a big win against Georgia, which ended a three-game losing streak.
Quarterback John Brantley is no Tim Tebow but the Gators still have playmakers on offense, such as Burton and Demps. Plus, Florida leads the SEC with 20 turnovers, including 16 interceptions. That is not good news for Vanderbilt, which comes in without Norman and is in just its second game under new offensive coordinator Des Kitchings.
Like most of their games this season, the Commodores might hang tight early, maybe even show a scoring burst like it did against Arkansas last week. But the offense hasn’t proved it can play a whole game and this week shouldn’t be any different.
Florida 27, Vanderbilt 14