Gators hope to rebound against Vandy

Gators will be back at "The Swamp," for the first time in over a month.

Gators will be back at “The Swamp,” for the first time in over a month.

The Florida Gators (4-4, 3-3 SEC) will return home for the first time in over a month to take on the Vanderbilt Commodores (4-4, 1-4 SEC) this Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium. Kick-off is scheduled for noon and the game will be televised on FSN/Sun Sports.

Florida is coming off a heartbreaking 23-20 loss against rival Georgia in Jacksonville. Vanderbilt was off last week after suffering a 56-24 loss to Texas A&M in College Station.

Although Vanderbilt is not the pushover it once was, Saturday’s game should provide Florida with a good opportunity to right the ship, as the Gators have won 22 straight games against the Commodores. Florida has not lost to Vanderbilt at home since the schools first ever meeting all the way back in 1945.

Here are a few things to keep an eye on throughout Saturday’s game.

Watching the Georgia game, it became obvious that Florida’s offense has its most success when redshirt junior quarterback Tyler Murphy was on the move. Yes, Murphy finished the game with 10 carries for just 28 yards, but during the drive following the Georgia safety, Murphy had two carries for 39 yards and a touchdown that put the Gators within a field goal. Murphy is a true dual-threat quarterback, and with a patchwork offensive line that is losing players by the week, offensive coordinator Brent Pease should play to his quarterback’s strengths. Against Vanderbilt, Florida should look to run more zone-read plays to help open things up for Murphy in the passing game, or give him a chance to make plays with his legs.

Vanderbilt’s offense is not loaded with playmakers, but it does feature one of the best wide receivers in the Southeastern Conference, if not the entire country, in Jordan Matthews. Earlier this season the senior wide receiver became the SEC’s all-time leading receiver when he surpassed Georgia’s Terrance Edwards and has 216 receptions for 3,172 yards and 22 touchdowns for his career. With freshman quarterback Patton Robinette at the helm, expect the Commodores to look to their most reliable target even more. It will be up to Florida’s highly-touted cornerbacks Marcus Roberson, Loucheiz Purifoy and Vernon Hargreaves III to keep Matthews in check.

It seems that the Florida Gators football team can’t go more than a week without suffering a critical injury. And this week proved no different , with tackle Tyler Moore becoming the latest Gator to go down. Moore broke his arm in a scooter accident Tuesday night and is out for the season after undergoing surgery Wednesday. With left tackle D.J. Humphries already out with a MCL sprain, Moore’s injury leaves the Gators particularly thin at offensive tackle. It is a shame, because after struggling for most of the season, Moore and the rest of the line appeared to have turned a corner against Georgia. Look for left guard Max Garcia to move to Moore’s spot at left tackle and for the versatile Kyle Koehne to slide into Garcia’s spot at guard. Florida has allowed 21 sacks on the season, but if the offense is going to have any success, this patchwork unit will have to mesh quickly.

Prediction

Florida 23, Vanderbilt 14

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