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Florida Football

Defensive Notebook: Not taking Vandy or Shurmur lightly

October 8, 2018
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It’d be easy to call Saturday a trap game. With the No. 14 Florida Gators (5-1, 3-1) set to arrive in Nashville as a decided favorite against the Vanderbilt Commodores (3-3, 0-2), everything on paper lends itself to an easy win for head coach Dan Mullen and Florida.

The Gators defensive leader linebacker David Reese II says the players refuse to think of it as an easy game and for that matter a trap game.

“This is a team that is a veteran team. We can’t take them lightly," said Reese II. "They just got out of a dogfight with Georgia. If they don’t make mistakes in that game, they win the game. Notre Dame, if they don’t make mistakes in that game, they win the game. So this is a team with a good defense, a veteran quarterback that we can’t take lightly.”

That veteran quarterback, Kyle Shurmur, is throwing 60.4% (113-of-187) for nine touchdowns and four interceptions, averaging 233.3 yards per game, 50th in FBS. Over the last two seasons, he’s gone a total of 27-65 (41%) for 346 yards, three touchdowns and one interception.

In 2016, he had his worst game of the season against the Gators and in 2017, his third worst. Despite being generally neutralized against Florida though, Reese says they’re fully aware of what he’s capable of doing.

“The main thing about him, he’s just good at controlling the game. I’m pretty sure their offense and offensive line won’t make that many mistakes. He’s just a game controller, a leader on their offense.

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“And you know, I’ve played against him before. Just knowing that he has a lot of experience, and that O-line also does too. But I feel like it’s nothing we can’t handle. I feel like this game is more about us and the energy we bring to their stadium.”

That offensive line and what Shurmur can do behind it stands out to Mullen as well.

“Obviously a tough team in Vanderbilt with a very veteran quarterback, the league’s leading wide receiver. They’ve got one of the most veteran offensive lines in the league. They can hit you with explosive plays and they can play ball-control game. Excellent defense, and usually this game has been pretty close in years past.”

That wide receiver Mullen mentioned is Kalija Lipscomb. The junior receiver is in the top 45 in the nation, averaging 82.7 receiving yards per game and leads his team with six touchdowns. He can be a game changer for the Dores, on a team that Reese and Mullen assure won’t be overlooked. And a win on Saturday, says Reese, despite coming in the leagues smallest stadium, will come yet again thanks to Gator fans.

“I feel like this is a team that we can’t take lightly, and I feel like we understand that. You know, coach understands that too. He’s been honest with us the whole time of the way. You know, it’s gonna be 12 [11] o’clock at their stadium. You know, we mostly fill out that stadium with Gator fans. So it’s gonna be interesting, but we’re not gonna take them lightly.”

 
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