NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- If you’re a regular to GatorZone.com, you’ve probably read my esteemed colleague, Scott Carter, and his weekly look at 10 things to watch heading into each Florida football game.
Well, here we are in the Music City and today’s editions of The Tennessean obviously break down tonight’s key Southeastern Eastern Division game from the Commodores perspective.
There’s a feature story comparing the strides made by the program’s two second-year coaches, UF’s Will Muschamp and Vandy’s James Franklin, but also a sidebar by Tennessean beat writer Jeff Lockridge breaking down “Five Key Things for Vanderbilt.”
Here you go:
1. Driskel over Gillislee: If Vanderbilt’s defense is forced to pick its poison, it must pick the pass. RB Mike Gillislee is coming off a 34-carry, 146-yard day against LSU and is averaging 110 yards. Vanderbilt must load the box and force QB Jeff Driskel to throw for an offense attempting only 19.4 passes per game.
2. Roger, Rodgers: Jordan Rodgers’ completion percentage remains at 55 — a number coach James Franklin wants in the upper 60s. But the senior QB has improved his decision-making recently and is putting very few balls where they can be intercepted. He needs to play his smartest and most efficient game yet.
3. Carryover effect: The Gators aren’t the only team with some positive mojo. Vanderbilt has last week’s win over Missouri to draw on, as well as a second-half comeback in Gainesville last year that fell just short. The Commodores have to turn that momentum into an early score and let Florida know it’s in for a fight.
4. Feeling special: Punter Richard Kent is giving the Commodores the kind of superb season they expected, but kicker Carey Spear’s resurgence has offered a second strong option on special teams. Vanderbilt could sure use something big from its return game, where nothing too special has happened.
5. Packed house: Vanderbilt will be playing before its first sellout crowd since Tim Tebow visited in 2008, so it’s important to give the fans a reason to come back. Feeding off the energy from a full house will be necessary to get its first win over a ranked team since 2008 and over the Gators since 1988.