The Good, Bad and Ugly: Why Florida’s shutout of Vandy was a deceptive win

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So far in 2021 none of Florida football’s wins have been overly impressive, be it against lesser non-conference foes or its previous victory over the Tennessee Volunteers. Coming into Saturday’s homecoming affair against the Vanderbilt Commodores — the Gators’ favorite homecoming punching bag — UF had lost two games in Southeastern Conference play and was looking for a much-needed win against the lowly ‘Dores.

Florida got the win it needed in shutout fashion, but the overall results were not terribly encouraging for the Gator Nation. Now that we have had a moment to chew on the results, the Gators Wire staff presents its Good, Bad and Ugly from UF’s uninspired win over Vanderbilt. Have a look at our retrospective takes below.

Adam Dubbin - Managing Editor

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

GOOD: It is hard to complain when your team tosses a shutout, which is exactly what the Gators did against Vandy. You are supposed to win big against your homecoming opponent and Florida came through on that front. On top of that, an SEC win is an SEC win. All of this is good.

BAD: That might have been the most uninspiring shutout victory I have ever seen. The Commodores missed three field goals and had a touchdown taken back from them on a very close call in the end zone — in 99 out of 100 games like this one of those scoring attempts count. The visiting team also ran more plays, held the ball longer and even had one more first down than the Gators in what was often a lackadaisical effort by the defense, especially in the first half.

UGLY: “Ugly” is a bit of hyperbole here but as the season progresses, despite putting up career-high passing numbers on Saturday, it is becoming more and more apparent that Emory Jones just is not the quarterback who is taking this team to the next level. He’s a perfectly capable play-caller but his tools never seem to be in sync for longer than a drive or two. His inconsistency will be a liability for this team heading into next week’s meeting with LSU in Baton Rouge and even further down the road against Georgia.

Tyler Nettuno - Assistant Editor/Writer

Doug Engle/Gainesville Sun

GOOD: Even without Malik Davis available, the Gators ran all over the Commodores, totaling 181 yards on the ground. Quarterback Emory Jones was a lot more aggressive in the passing game and it resulted in the best passing day of his career as he totaled 273 yards and four touchdowns. His performance still left some things to be desired, but it was a positive step, nonetheless.

BAD: Florida sure is lucky that Joseph Bulovas couldn’t find the area between the uprights in this game. He missed three kicks, and when you consider a questionable review decision that wiped a touchdown off the board for the Commodores, this game could have been a lot closer. The UF defense has some work to do after allowing 200 yards in the first half to one of the nation’s worst offenses.

UGLY: It’s a relative term in a game where the Gators somehow covered a 38.5-point spread, but the pair of interceptions from Jones and Anthony Richardson could both be called “ugly.” Richardson’s could at least be explained by the contact he received, but Jones’ decision was a puzzling one after leading three straight touchdown drives. UF was also penalized eight times for 80 yards, which certainly isn’t what the team wanted to see after drawing 15 flags last week.

Pat Dooley - Staff Writer

Syndication: Gainesville Sun

GOOD: The Gators did a lot of good things on offense and pitched a defensive shutout thanks to three missed field goals by the same guy responsible for both Vanderbilt wins. Emory Jones was effective as the quarterback other than throwing his weekly interception. Florida had 479 yards, which is not a bad effort.

BAD: How many times have you seen a team run 80 plays in a game and not score? Even though the Gators pitched a shutout, Vanderbilt had the ball way too much and a lesser team would have struggled with that stat. The defense has to establish that killer instinct.

UGLY: The hope was that Florida would solve the penalty problem. Well, almost. After 15 penalties last week, the Gators had 8 for 80 yards. That’s still too many and fueled an early Vanderbilt drive. This cannot continue.

David Rosenberg - Staff Writer

AP Photo/Phelan M. Ebenhack

GOOD: Trent Whittemore and Nay’Quan Wright are starting to find their groove. Wright was part of a big 99-yard touchdown drive for Florida against Alabama, and he was the Gators’ main back against Vanderbilt with Malik Davis out. He carried the ball seven times for 46 yards and added 51 receiving yards. Whittemore was targeted four times, including two of the deep shots Emory Jones took early on, and he’s becoming one of the more reliable guys at receiver for Florida.

BAD: Dan Mullen was mad after the first half. His defense gave up 200 yards and his quarterbacks were missing reads against a weak secondary. Florida has played better after halftime in many of its games this year, but it’d be nice to see what kind of win they can put together when everything is clicking from the start.

UGLY: Although eight penalties is less than the dozen and a half Florida committed last week, the Gators have a problem drawing flags. Tre’Vez Johnson left the game in the first quarter after being called for targeting and Trey Dean almost got disqualified in the second half on the same call. It’s good to see fewer false starts and more passion on defense, but those can’t turn into other flags if Florida wants to be successful. Three holding penalties and an illegal formation call helped stall several of the Gators’ drives.

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