Looks like all is well in the land of Gator football once again- at least for now.
Treon Harris threw for 225 yards, ran for 53 more and the defense played lights out as the Gators avenged an embarrassing 34-17 loss to Vanderbilt at home last year by blowing out the Dores, 34-10. The win gives Florida five for the year, which eclipses 2013’s win total of four. The score is nearly identical to the one from last year, but it’s been flipped in our direction. Just felt like flinging a shot at Vanderbilt for fun, because that’s what most of this game was- fun.
Again, though, the Gators got off to a rocky start. And it was Vanderbilt having fun early.
Midway through the first quarter, McCrary guided the Commodores straight down the field and lofted a touchdown pass to Stephen Scheu to give Vandy a 7-0 lead. On the play, Jabari Gorman was caught badly out of position- another bust by this much maligned secondary. That capped a 7 play, 85 yard drive that left many Gators, including myself, thinking “Really? We’re really gonna do this again? Seriously?”
But that was where the Vanderbilt fun came to an end and the Gator fun began.
Florida responded to the Scheu touchdown with a methodical 10 play, 65 yard drive that ended with a sweet 13 yard run from Kelvin Taylor. The Gators then stopped the Dores again and got the ball back, and Treon Harris wasted no time burning the Commodores deep with a 49 yard bomb to Ahmad Fulwood. That set the Gators up with a 1st and goal at the Vanderbilt 3. Muschamp would waste that opportunity with the ridiculous decision to insert Jeff Driskel into the game for a power run on third and goal, and predictably, he got stuffed. But the Commodores turned it over right back on a Ralph Webb fumble, and Florida took the lead for good on a touchdown by Driskel.
From there, a Frankie Velez field goal made it 17-7, and Treon Harris delivered the knockout punch with a touchdown run 9 seconds into the fourth quarter. That run came three plays after a 60 yard bomb to Quinton Dunbar, and made it 24-7- game over with this defense. Vandy would add a field goal, but the Gators wanted no part of a close game and responded with another touchdown- Harris’s second rushing score of the game. Vanderbilt wasn’t done giving out gifts, however, as McCrary threw a pick to Vernon Hargreaves. Florida cashed that mistake in for a field goal to make it 34-10, which turned out to be the final score.
Amid the win are plenty of things for this team to work on. The Gators committed nine penalties (where have I heard that before?), including a silly personal foul by Antonio Morrison, and some of Muschamp’s decisions were questionable (read: stupid), like putting Driskel in the game at the goal line. Vandy knew all he would be put in for was run- he can’t hit the side of a Winn-Dixie with a pass- so that’s what they defended, stacking the box and blowing up the play. And on the fourth down play that got the touchdown, Driskel needed 24 inches, and got 25. Vandy knew precisely what Driskel was going to do, and they had the play stopped, but he got in by the skin of his teeth. A play action rollout with Harris with a run-pass option would have been a much better way to go, given Driskel’s propensity for fumbling and given that we hadn’t done it yet in short yardage situations up to that point, but luckily for Muschamp, it worked (more on that later in the week).
But I’m not complaining too much; a win is a win. And in the SEC, even against Vandy, each one is precious.