Instant Analysis: Gators overcome sluggish start to defeat Commodores

Nov 21, 2020 | 0 comments


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Saturday’s matchup between No. 6 Florida and Vanderbilt was one of those rare SEC games where the result was pretty much a given long before toe ever met leather. The Gators are on track to win the SEC East and possibly contend for a spot in the College Football Playoff. The Commodores, meanwhile, are on track for their first winless season in school history.

The real storyline in this game was how quickly the Gators would put the Commodores away. Would they take care of business early and let the backups get some extended playing time, or would they get off to another infamous slow start in Nashville and let Vanderbilt hang around for a while?

The latter proved to be the correct answer. The Gators overcame an inauspicious start and eventually pulled away to defeat the Commodores (0-7), 38-17.

Here is our Instant Analysis.

It Was Over When: With the game tied at 10, the Gators took over at their own 15-yard line with 2:34 to go before halftime. Kyle Trask led the Gators on a quick seven-play touchdown drive, with Trevon Grimes scoring a 34-yard touchdown on an impressive catch between two defenders.

Florida’s defense held to finish the half, and the Gators got the ball first in the second half. They then went on a methodical 12-play, 75-yard scoring drive. The drive was keyed by a 36-yard catch and run by Kadarius Toney and punctuated by a 1-yard scoring plunge by Dameon Pierce.

The pair of scores to bookend halftime gave the Gators control of the game after a rocky start.

He Stole the Show: Trask turned in another 350-yard passing game. Ho-hum. He recovered from some early struggles where his accuracy and decision-making appeared a bit off to complete 26 of 35 passes for 383 yards and three touchdowns. He now owns the SEC record for the most touchdown passes through seven games with 31.

Oh, What A Play: On first-and-10 from Vanderbilt’s 34-yard line late in the second quarter, Grimes beat his man off the ball on a go route and raised his hand to get Trask’s attention. Trask lofted a pass too far to the inside and gave the safety a chance to make a play.

Instead, Grimes skied into the air, made the catch and held onto the ball while hitting the ground hard. It was his second highlight-worthy touchdown grab in the last three weeks.

This Stat Mattered Most: Both quarterbacks had their way for the most part, but a statistic that shouldn’t be overlooked is the rushing production. Florida finished with 173 rushing yards and 4.3 yards per carry, while the Commodores finished with just 87 rushing yards and 2.6 yards per carry.

UF’s ability to run the ball allowed it to extend drives better than Vanderbilt’s offense and helped them wear down a pesky Commodores defense.

This Matchup Proved Key: While the Gators’ passing game got off to a slow start, the receivers and tight ends eventually turned things around and made some excellent plays against tight coverage.

Grimes made his contested catch for a touchdown, Kadarius Toney juked a defender out of his shoes on a 27-yard touchdown catch in the first quarter, Justin Shorter made a 46-yard catch on a scramble play and Kemore Gamble caught touchdown passes of two and 30 yards.

Vanderbilt did a nice job of keeping UF’s explosive and versatile passing game in check for about 1 ½ quarters, but Florida’s offensive talent proved to be too much in the end.

Up Next: Florida (6-1) returns home next Saturday for a noon date with Kentucky. The Gators have won 32 of the last 33 games in the series, but four of the last six meetings have gone down to the wire. The Gators’ magic number to clinch the SEC East is now two.

Tags: Event

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