Back Stout Vanderbilt Against Short-handed Florida

Vanderbilt Commodores players walking

Rainman M.

Friday, September 29, 2017 1:03 PM GMT

Friday, Sep. 29, 2017 1:03 PM GMT

#21 Florida (2-1) hosts Vanderbilt (3-1) this Saturday at 12:00 PM ET. Florida has been favored by between 7.5 and 10 points. The game total opened at 44 and has been steadily driven down to 41.

Vanderbilt Commodores vs Florida Gators  

Vanderbilt is coming off of a demoralizing 59-0 defeat at home to face a Florida team who has its own distractions. Florida's already suspended players will face felony fraud charges.


Amidst an offseason spent recovering from surgery to his throwing shoulder, Luke Del Rio will make his first start this season. Del Rio was the Gators' quarterback as they achieved a comeback victory last week against Kentucky. His paltry numbers and his historical inability to secure the starting quarterback job cast doubt on his ability to help Florida's offense. Del Rio, in his career, has as many interceptions as touchdowns.

The Gators have been rotating between running backs, struggling to find Jordan Scarlett's replacement. Malik Davis led the Gators with 53 rush yards in the 4th quarter last week against a fragile Kentucky defensive line.

The Gators miss their top receiver, Antonio Callaway. Their next-best receiver had 387 yards last year, despite playing in every game. Their offensive line is regressing from last season's mediocrity and ranks 110th in sacks allowed. It is102nd in yards per game and 85th in points per game.

Del Rio will try to prove his coaching staff wrong for passing on him twice in their decision on which quarterback to start: first it was Malik Zaire, then Feleipe Franks. Del Rio won't get much help from a mediocre-at-best rush attack, a lackluster wide receiving crew, and an unreliable offensive line.

Don't forget that Vanderbilt was 3-0 and had just upset then-#19 Kansas State before facing an extremely motivated Alabama squad.

Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur is not afraid to patiently deliver reliable balls in the short and intermediate passing game. Because he is limited down the field and lacks the mobility with which to elude pressure, he relies on wide receivers who are able to quickly achieve separation and find open spaces and an offensive line that can give him a pocket.

Shurmur also excels at play-action passing. But in order to be more effective, he needs Vanderbilt's career leader in rush yards, Ralph Webb, to start producing. Webb should be extra motivated because Florida refused to offer him a scholarship, even though he is a Gainesville native.

Webb has been a non-factor this year because of his poor offensive line play. Vanderbilt's Head Coach publicly called out his offensive line as soft and challenged them to improve.

Vanderbilt's offensive line is returning its 5 starters from last year. It is a young group, without a senior, but with experience. Last year, Vanderbilt improved in rush yards per game and per carry and in points scored per game in large part due to the offensive line. 59-0 was the wake-up call which Vanderbilt's offensive line required.

Two of the starting running backs that Florida has encountered (Ty Isaac of Michigan and John Kelly of Tennessee) performed their best against Florida, who ranks 82nd in rush yards allowed per game. Vanderbilt's young offensive line can build off of last year's positive form against a Florida defensive line that is replacing three starters from last year. The Gators are stacked at defensive end but lack proven talent in the interior.

The linebacking corps and secondary consist overwhelmingly of unproven underclassmen. David Reese leads the linebackers with 49 tackles last season.

The secondary lost three starters to the NFL and a fourth to injury. The two defensive backs who do have some experience are having to play much bigger roles than last year. 

Vanderbilt also enjoys high-quality depth at defensive line and linebacker to make up for the departure of a star linebacker and star defensive lineman. However, it's their defense that has the edge over Florida's. Vanderbilt is 8th in passing yards allowed behind a senior-laden secondary that also provides effective run support and composes the strength of the defense.

 

The Verdict

Shurmur has been sacked only three times this year and should enjoy time within the pocket to develop the intermediate passing game against a Florida defenses that misses significant depth, quality, and experience. An extra motivated Webb and an equally motivated offensive line, that is capable of even improving upon last year's form, should be at their best. 

Florida, between a lackluster quarterback, a wide receiving corps with little talent, a shaky offensive line and an unproven running game, does not have the offensive firepower to score a lot of points, especially against one of the SEC's best defenses in Vanderbilt.

Vanderbilt will grind out time of possession and score enough points to help its deep, high-quality defense on our college football picks.

 

Free NCAAF Pick: Vanderbilt +9Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

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