Fresh off a tough loss to the Georgia Bulldogs in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party, the Florida Gators (7-2, 4-2) have a chance to rebound against the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-6, 1-4) Saturday afternoon in The Swamp.
Florida, of course, took a 24-17 loss to Georgia last week, likely derailing their SEC Championship hopes, barring a pair of unlikely Georgia losses down the stretch. The Gators did, however, place #10 in the first College Football Playoff rankings of the year, the highest among all the 2+ loss teams, and two spots above 8-0 Baylor. Clearly if Florida is able to continue winning the rest of the season, they’ll be in a favorable position come bowl season. Interestingly, if the Gators win the rest of their regular season games, or win two of the three plus their bowl game, they’ll have their first back-to-back 10 win seasons since 2008 and 2009. The point of all this is simple: despite Florida’s SEC Championship and College Football Playoff hopes being dashed, there’s still a lot to play for.
Something else to monitor over the next few weeks will be the continued development of quarterback Kyle Trask. Trask has shown flashes of brilliance this year, passing for two or more touchdowns in each game he’s started. He’s presumably Florida’s starting quarterback next season, so they’ll want to see all they can of him going forward. Florida is the SEC’s third-best passing offense and Vanderbilt is the SEC’s second-worst passing defense, so it’s likely that Trask will have a field day, yet again.
As for Vanderbilt, they’ve had the season we all pretty much expected, as they’ve struggled mightily to replace the departed Kyle Shurmur at quarterback. Vanderbilt quarterbacks are a combined 149-274 for 1,530 yards and seven touchdowns to go along with seven interceptions. Compare that to Shurmur’s 2018 totals of 254-406, 3130 yards, and 24 touchdowns to six interceptions, and you see the issue. Riley Neal has taken the bulk of the snaps at quarterback, but suffered a concussion last week against South Carolina and will be with the team in Florida, but not starting. That will be Deuce Wallace, who is 33-76 on the year with no touchdowns and three interceptions. It could be a long day for the junior QB against the vaunted Gators secondary.
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