Looking to rebound from a week full of criticism and questions, the No. 1 Florida Gators (9-0, 6-0 SEC) did little to quiet their critics even though they rolled to a 27-3 victory over the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-8, 0-6 SEC) Saturday night at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Florida extended its winning streak to a nation-high 19 games but continued to struggle on offense even through all of their personnel were healthy and active.
Senior quarterback Tim Tebow scored the 52nd rushing touchdown of his career in the third quarter and threw one that was tipped by senior wide receiver Riley Cooper to redshirt senior David Nelson with 9:22 remaining in the fourth quarter. Tebow ran 16 times for only 27 yards and went 15-for-20 for 208 yards through the air, including a 64-yard catch-and-run by sophomore tight end Aaron Hernandez in the fourth quarter. The Gators also scored on a 25-yard run by sophomore Jeff Demps in the first quarter and two field goals by sophomore kicker Caleb Sturgis of 27 and 45 yards in the first half.
Florida’s defense did not lose a step without senior middle linebacker Brandon Spikes, giving up only 199 yards of total offense to the Commodores. Redshirt senior linebacker Ryan Stamper grabbed an interception in Spikes’ stead. The special teams, however, did allow Vanderbilt’s senior punt returner Alex Washington to gain the first return yards on junior punter Chas Henry all season.
One week after finally showing signs of life by putting up 41 points on the Georgia Bulldogs, the Gators offense once again looked anemic, just as it did four of the five weeks prior. Along with Spikes, Minnesota Vikings WR Percy Harvin and Oakland Raiders WR Louis Murphy watched from the sideline as both are on their team’s respective bye weeks.
Florida goes on the road to Columbia, SC, next week for its final Southeastern Conference regular season game this year against the South Carolina Gamecocks (6-4, 3-4 SEC) at 3:30 p.m. on Nov. 14. Full coverage will be available throughout the week here on OGGOA.