A year ago, on this same weekend, the Florida Gators found themselves in the same position.
A week removed from a devastating loss to the Georgia Bulldogs, the Gators were ready to return to The Swamp and get a much-needed bounce back win. They had a good week of practice preparing to play the Missouri Tigers on their home field.
But once the ball was kicked off, the Gators laid an egg.
They didn’t just lay an egg, they were embarrassed on their own turf. Missouri would go on to beat the Gators 38-17 and the Gators fell victim to the post-Georgia hangover once again.
That’s been a pattern around the program for years now. The week after the cocktail party in Jacksonville, the Gators seem to always come out flat and disappoint.
But this year, there was no hangover for No. 10 Florida. After another slow start, Florida’s offense would eventually spark and the defense was stifling, on their way to a 56-0 win over the Vanderbilt Commodores.
It was very much a statement victory for the Orange and Blue, after a tough loss a week ago. The Gators knew they had to come out and make a statement, but not for the world to see.
“Well, to me it was about making a statement to ourselves of making sure we get our edge back,” said Gators head coach Dan Mullen following the win. “There was disappointment off of last week, but if you’re a competitor you compete.”
After the first quarter, things were surprisingly all squared at zero. That would obviously change, as the Gators would string on 56-straight points, which included 28 of those coming in the third quarter.
After struggling in Jacksonville a week ago, it was a career day for quarterback Kyle Trask. He went 25-for-37 through the air for a career-high 363 yards. He added three scores through the air, one on the ground, but did have two interceptions.
“It’s great to get back on track,” Trask said post-game. “At the end of the day, we have to control what we can control and that’s one day at a time.”
A statement was made by Trevon Grimes early in the third corner, when he caught a 4-yard pass from Trask then took it all the way to the house for a 66-yard touchdown.
“We knew we had to come out and make a statement, and I feel like we really did that,” Grimes said post-game. “We came out and executed on offense, defense, as well as special teams.”
The Gators did in fact execute on all three phases of the game Saturday. It may have been a slow start for the offense, but the defense took care of business from the first possession they took the field.
The Gators defense picked up their third shutout of the 2019 season, doing so in dominant fashion. For what it’s worth, Vanderbilt isn’t the best offensive team as it is, and they were starting their third-string quarterback. But, the Gators still didn’t take them lightly and shut them down for four quarters.
Going into the fourth quarter, the Commodores had 78 yards.
Florida’s defense was stout all game, only giving up 128 total yards. A big part in that was slowing down Commodores running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn. You may recall a year ago that Vaughn gashed the Gators defense to the tone of 130 yards in the first half alone. But that wasn’t the case this time around.
Vaughn only had 28 yards on 15 carries.
A week ago, Florida’s defense couldn’t get off the field on third-down. Georgia went 12-for-18 on third, but the Commodores wouldn’t have the same luck.
They would only convert on three of their 15 third-downs, with the Gators getting after the quarterback on a number of those occasions.
Florida had six total sacks defensively, with half of those belonging to freshman Mohamoud Diabate. The Commodores offensive line had no answer for his speed which lead to three sacks, one of which being a strip sack resulting in a 80-yard Jonathan Greenard touchdown. Diabate made a statement and showed he’s going to be a playmaker on this defense for the year’s to come.
“I feel like we got our edge back,” Diabate said following the defense’s shutout. “We played the way we expect to play.”
This time around, there was no hangover for the Gators following a loss to Georgia.
Now, they’ll look to get rid of the bad taste left in their mouths from the hangover last year, when the Missouri Tigers came into their stadium and beat them by 21-points.