Florida vs. Vanderbilt score: Takeaways as No. 10 Gators register shutout in bounce-back win

By Adam Silverstein
November 9, 2019
Florida vs. Vanderbilt score: Takeaways as No. 10 Gators register shutout in bounce-back win

Image Credit: GatorsFB / Twitter

There’s nothing like a get-right game to help a team overcome a tough loss, and that is exactly what the No. 10 Florida Gators pulled together on Saturday in a dominant 56-0 obliteration of the Vanderbilt Commodores. While Florida (8-2, 5-2 SEC) may have taken a bit to get going — thanks at least somewhat to some more head-scratching officiating — it ultimately found little blockage as it ran through Vanderbilt (2-7, 1-5 SEC) at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Florida, on Saturday.

With the win, the Gators officially became bowl-eligible. (They had played two of their first 10 games against FCS competition.) They also picked up their first shutout over a Power Five or SEC team since 2012 (vs. Kentucky), beat the ‘Dores by the biggest margin since 2001 (71-13) and scored a shutout in annual showdown for the first time since 1993 (52-0).

Let’s take a look at what went down in Saturday’s game and what it means for Florida as it looks to close the 2019 regular season strong.

1. The offense is humming: Florida shook off its struggles from last week to the tune of 560 yards, including 410 through the air and 5.2 yards per carry on the ground. Redshirt junior Kyle Trask became the first quarterback since Tim Tebow to eclipse 360 yards passing, totaling 363 on 25 of 37 throwing with three touchdowns and two interceptions, one of which should have been called back due to pass interference (but was not). Trask and redshirt freshman Emory Jones (2 of 3, 47 yards) completed passes to 11 different receivers. The Gators spread out their 29 rushes across nine players, including both QBs, with Jones scoring three times on five keepers. Junior wide receiver Trevon Grimes led all pass catchers with four receptions, 95 yards and a score.

It was an impressive offensive performance top to bottom with Florida outscoring Vanderbilt 28-0 in the third quarter and 42-0 in the second half. That continues a strong trend for the Gators this season as they have now outscored all opponents 203-66 in the second half and 108-28 in the fourth quarter.

2. The defense bounced back, too: It was not a surprise to see Florida’s defense play better against Vanderbilt than Georgia, but it feasted on Saturday. The Gators allowed just 128 yards (many of them in garbage time) and held the Commodores to 3-of-15 on third down. Consider that Vandy ran 61 plays (2.1 yards per play) and that is even more impressive. Not only that, Florida managed three turnovers, including two interceptions by junior defensive back Donovan Stiner and an 80-yard fumble return touchdown by graduate transfer defensive end Jon Greenard. That followed a tremendous strip sack by freshman linebacker Mohamoud Diabate, who dominated all game with three sacks while in for the team’s injured players at the position. Junior DB Shawn Davis also showed out in the game with six tackles (four solo), including a couple of big-time hits.

While the Gators played great Saturday, it is necessary to put the performance in perspective as this is a relatively bad ‘Dores team. Still, they did everything you could ask from a defense, including seeing a shutout through to the finish and thwarting the lone red zone opportunity in the game. Vanderbilt only had 12 first downs on the afternoon, in large part due to six sacks and five tackles for loss.

3. Not all was perfect: It’s tough to poke holes in a performance like this, but sophomore kicker Evan McPherson’s missed 40-yard field goal was certainly a low point. The running game was efficient, particularly with Trask and Jones, but the team’s four actual running backs only had 28 yards on 10 carries. There was also head coach Dan Mullen’s confusing decision to continue playing Trask as his main quarterback deep into the fourth quarter with the team up 42-0. It seemed to be a prime opportunity for Jones to lead nearly a full quarter of offense and get some passing reps under his belt. Instead, he did not have that chance until a singular late series.

4. Odds and ends: Florida is now 41-10-2 all-time against Vanderbilt and 22-2-1 in The Swamp with wins in 28 of the last 29 meetings, including six straight โ€ฆ the Gators are now fourth nationally with 14 interceptions โ€ฆ UF is 14-2 against unranked teams under Mullen โ€ฆ Florida is 12-0 when scoring first, 14-0 when leading after the third quarter, 13-0 when allowing 20 points or fewer and 14-0 when outrushing its opponent under Mullen โ€ฆ the Gators have scored 24+ points in 13 of their last 14 games โ€ฆ UF has scored in 395 consecutive games, an NCAA record

5. What’s next? Florida will play its earliest start of the season next week when it travels to Missouri for a noon ET (11 a.m. local time) kickoff. The game will air live on CBS. The Gators should have a revenge mindset against the Tigers after being blasted 38-17 in The Swamp last season. This is a must-win game for Florida if it wants to keep its slim SEC East title hopes alive.

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