10 things every Gators fan should know ahead of the Vanderbilt game

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It’s difficult to say whether the timing is right for Vanderbilt to be on Florida’s schedule Saturday in the Swamp.

In a way, the Gators need to play a team that’s near the bottom of every NCAA statistic known to man. On the other hand, a team that has shown a penchant for being distracted (the f-word is now “false-start penalties”) may notice it has almost no chance to reach the SEC Championship Game and mail it in the rest of the way.

Only the players know for sure, although they were saying all the right things on social media after the Kentucky loss. Certainly, as a 38-point favorite, Florida’s greatest danger is not taking an SEC opponent seriously enough.

Let’s talk a little Vandy:

The Commodores have two wins and anyone who bet the over in Vegas is probably excited.

The over/under was three wins for Vanderbilt and both of Vandy’s wins were nail biters where a million things had to go right at the end. That’s great for first-year coach Clark Lea considering the schedule ahead.

Who said this?

“It’s gonna be about us, it’s gonna be about getting to a better start, not having the self-inflicted wounds and putting ourselves behind early and trying to get to that one-possession game in the fourth quarter where the pressure’s on the opponent.”

That could be Dan Mullen, but it is Lea speaking this week. Sounds familiar.

Vanderbilt’s numbers are not good.

The Commodores rank 94th in passing yards and 103rd in rushing yards. They are also 124th in the country in turnover margin. Of course, the team Florida played last week was last in turnover margin and a lot of good it did the Gators. Florida, by the way, has a turnover margin of minus-3 and with an offense that has a small margin for error, that’s not good.

Still, Vandy has won two games

… and in both cases the winning field goal came from Joseph Bulovas, a transfer who used the kick for Alabama. He made a 31-yarder to beat UConn in a crazy game where Vanderbilt blew a lead and a 38-yarder to beat Colorado State. Colorado State turned around and beat Toledo and then played Iowa tough last week. Because college football is crazy.

One thing that can skew your stats is a trip to Athens, Georgia.

That 62-0 loss for Vandy included a 35-0 first quarter. It also included something I’ve never seen before – a running clock in the fourth quarter of an SEC game. Even with the game shortened, Georgia had a 28-4 edge in first downs and a 532-77 edge in total yards. A running clock is every sportswriter’s dream.

Vanderbilt has the lowest overall winning percentage of any SEC team at 49.2 percent.

But there was a time when the Commodores were all that. Their coach was Dan McGugin, who got some air time when they did that 150 years of college football celebration on ESPN. His teams were 197-55-19. So, don’t blame him. He also invented the onside kick and pulling guards. No wonder he was in the College Football Hall of Fame’s first class.

And there is one other coach who strays from the norm at Vanderbilt

… and that would be James Franklin. Only one coach has had a winning record for his tenure at Vandy since Steve Sloan left there with a 12-9-2 mark. Every other coach has had a losing record except Franklin, who was clearly marked for stardom when he was at Vanderbilt. He went 24-15 in three seasons before leaving for Penn State. That seems like a long time ago.

Vanderbilt may be last in the SEC in total offense and last in scoring

… but there are a couple of wide receivers to pay attention to. Will Sheppard, a sophomore who caught his first pass last season against Florida, and Chris Pierce, a super senior who caught a touchdown pass in last season’s 38-17 loss to the Gators, became the first pair of Vandy wideouts to catch passes for 100 yards in a game since 2016 when they did it against UConn.

Vanderbilt quarterback Ken Seals hopes to do better than the quarterbacks did against Florida in 1958.

That’s a record that may never be broken. The Commodores threw for minus-1 yard in that game, a 6-6 tie. Seals and Florida quarterback Emory Jones have something in common – they each have five TD passes this season. They are ranked ninth and 10th in the SEC in passing.

We close with this gem – Florida and Vanderbilt have never met when both teams were ranked

… mostly because the Commodores are never ranked. Vanderbilt has been ranked one time when the two teams met, No. 13 in 1950. Florida has been ranked 34 times when the two teams have met.

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