Quick hits: No. 10 Florida Gators escape Vanderbilt, clinch first SEC East title since 2009

By Adam Silverstein
November 7, 2015

No. 10 Florida Gators football (8-1, 6-1 SEC) was chewing its collective nails throughout the game Saturday but left Ben Hill Griffin Stadium as the 2015 SEC East division champions after escaping a tough Vanderbilt Commodores team 9-7 on a late field goal by redshirt junior kicker Austin Hardin.

It is Florida’s first SEC East crown since 2009 and the first time the Gators won a game with fewer than 10 points scored since 1968 (Florida State).

OnlyGators.com will be back with more later, but here are five immediate takeaways from Florida’s latest victory.

Much-maligned benched starters come through: Between Hardin and junior wide receiver Demarcus Robinson, some of the Gators’ biggest plays Saturday came from players that had lost the confidence of head coach Jim McElwain.

The coach chose senior walk-on Neil MacInnes over Hardin for the early missed extra point and faked a field goal later only for Hardin – who boomed his three kickoffs out of the end zone – to nail a career-long 43-yard game-winning field goal with just over two minutes to play. Hardin is now 4-of-8 this season and 15-of-30 in his career.

Similarly, Robinson was also UF’s standout offensive player. He was the only pass-catcher to haul in more than one reception, corralling nine for 106 yards on the afternoon. Of course, Robinson also committed a costly fumble (more on that below), but Florida would not have won without his contributions.

What a mess: The Gators played their worst game of the season on Saturday. Despite crossing the 50 on every drive first-half and starting three of their first four offensive possessions on the Commodores’ side of the field, Florida only managed six points. UF was stopped on fourth down deep in the red zone, missed an extra point on its lone touchdown and saw both freshman defensive end CeCe Jefferson and sophomore quarterback Treon Harris fumble in VU territory (Jefferson took a fake field goal toss for a first down before being stripped). Harris also threw a late interception, and two plays later, Vanderbilt running back Ralph Webb took a touch 74 yards into the end zone for a touchdown to put the visitors up 7-6 at the break.

In the second half, the Gators totaled -23 yards of offense in the third quarter and did not come alive until its first drive of the fourth quarter. Florida gained 57 yards and drove down to Vanderbilt’s 12 only for Robinson to fumble the ball into the air while fighting for additional yardage. Even on the final series of the game, after UF had taken a two-point lead, the Gators committed a holding on a fourth-down play that was an incomplete pass and were called for targeting (yes, a questionable call) on another important play that extended Vanderbilt’s drive loger than it needed to be.

Taylor made: Junior RB Kelvin Taylor scored a three-yard touchdown in the first quarter, his 11th rushing score of the season and ninth in SEC play. In doing so, he became the first player since his father, Fred Taylor, to rush for nine touchdowns in SEC play (1997) and first since Trey Burton to cross the end zone on the ground 11 times in a season (2010).

Unable to finish: UF saw six of its 11 drives begin in VU territory. Florida at least stepped foot on Vanderbilt’s side of the field on 11 of its 11 possessions and found the red zone on five. In those five possessions (including the first four of the game), the Gators scored six points and fumbled the ball thrice.

Twitter reaction:


  1. SCroud says:

    A gutty win!! Sometimes games go like this, but they never gave up and the D kept them in it all day.
    I am proud of this team.
    I hope Hardin gets out of Mac’s doghouse after this, I really get the feeling he was down on him but man, he saved the day today!

  2. 1974Gator says:

    Must have been the helmets faults. Couldn’t have been anything else.

  3. Michael Jones says:

    Love Mac but hated the 4th and goal from the 7 decision to go for it. I think we got a little cute with our coaching today but, hey, we won.

    We’re going to have to be able to pass the football at some point. Too bad Gator Nation ran off Jeff Driskel.

    • senuod says:

      Driskel was ruined goods. His transfer was the best thing for everyone involved. Glad he’s doing well at another school.

    • 305Gator says:

      Agree with you that it seems Treon can’t pass the ball but disagree about Driskel. Driskel had to go just like muschump

  4. Michael Jones says:

    And yes, Bobby McCray, the telecast was brutal.

    • 1974Gator says:

      Had to mute it in the 1st quarter. Who were those dweebs? Her voice grated on my ears. Way too much uninteresting commentary.

  5. caligator says:

    The fake inside hand off and roll out because Treon can’t see over the line play has run it’s course–Plan B? GO GATORS

  6. Sharon Milner says:

    This came was three quarters of anxiety. But we won.

  7. Suedawgue says:

    First time I ever watched most of a game on mute. How do they screen these kinds of announcers?

  8. Fernzpat says:

    What telecast? After 30 seconds of that crap fest got Mic Hubert on the smartphone… Oh My!!!

  9. Gatorlegs says:

    I’m not trying to be ticky tacky, but I sincerely hope UF is submitting a video of the officiating and submitting it to SEC this year. It’s been consistently terrible. Terrible. That Vandy coach was a total jacka$$. He had ever single call and replay go his way, including a called back touchdown

  10. G2 says:

    Think we had a hangover from cocktail party the week before. Thought I was having a flashback to Mushchamp’s offense. Huge to get the W after play that badly. Hoping we can get it together for next week!

  11. SD Gator says:

    1. Burn the helmet. It looks like Miami.
    2. Highly curious about the refs. They were trying to ruin the UF.
    3. Offense was terrible. Hope it gets fixed.
    4. Bama was brutal…..

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