Friday, November 7, 2008

Can We Pull This Off?

Florida is giving 24 points, with an over-under of 48. But here's the thing: As Mo Patton points out, two out of the last three years, this game has been decided by a touchdown or less. Prior to last season, the average margin over the previous five seasons was 10 points. The point being: we tend to play Florida close. So you add to that the fact that this game is in Nashville, the fact that UF is coming off a monster win in Jacksonville, and the fact that Vandy has--or should have--a serious chip on their shoulders after two straight bad losses and an extra week to think about them.

On the other hand, reality is reality, and not only is Florida's offense clicking and their defense all-the-sudden finding their mean streak, but Vanderbilt has been downright depressing in the month of November in recent years.

But hey, we're playing at home and we're playing on ESPN, and under those circumstances we're 2-0 in 2008. So with that in mind, let's discuss what needs to happen to pull off an upset, become bowl eligible, and ruin Florida's chances for a national title run. Spotlight on the following factors:

1) Turnovers - As Maurice Patton notes, we were plus-9 in turnover margin over the first five games, but since then have gone minus-4 in TOs. Keeping the ball out of the hands of Tebow, Harvin, and Demps is (as the Bulldogs discovered) absolutely essential to beating them. We've got big playmakers on defense, and it's not like they've dropped off in their effort level. Patrick Benoist and Chris Marve have been lighting people up and knocking balls loose. In order to beat the Gators, our "improving (and top-15 scoring) defense" will need to fall on a few more of those loose balls.

2) Ted Cain and Mackenzi Adams - I'm convinced that there is more talent on this offense than the 117th out of 119 total offense ranking lets on. Ted Cain has had two weeks to right the ship. Let's see if he can draw something up to move the football against the top scoring defense in the conference (and #5 nationally). The flip side of the coin is Mackenzi Adams, whose execution has left something to be desired against inferior opponents the past two games. Given that Florida will almost certainly be looking to pressure the quarterback and create turnovers as they did against Georgia, in some ways it's a shame not to have a more dynamic runner in there like Nickson. Nonetheless, there's no reason we shouldn't be able to manage the pressure if Florida sells out to get to Adams. How about a few screen plays to Jared Hawkins? He certainly hasn't gotten the touches he deserves, and it's time to remedy that.

3) Special Teams - After a strong first half of the season, special teams killed us against Duke. A blocked field goal, a blocked punt, and a special teams fumble while returning three punts for a total of minus-1 yard were the lowlights in a story of missed opportunity two weeks ago. D.J. Moore, who is an exceptional return man (and a semifinalist for the Thorpe Award by the way), has gained 18 total yards on his last seven attempts. Ouch. Not to be outdone, place kicker Bryant Hahnfeldt was 7-for-7 to start the season, and has missed his last four straight. You look at that and you look at the fact that the last two games were decided by a mere field goal, and's hard not to hate your kicker. After all, he's the kicker.

4) Red Zone Battle - Florida is #1 in the nation in red zone offense on the season. Vanderbilt is #1 in the nation in red zone defense. Enough said.

I know it seems like a long shot, but if the Commies could knock off the Gators on Saturday night, at home, on a national stage (ESPN2), we'd jump right back into the spotlight and once again be the team everyone's talking about. Regardless of the outcome, this is another big game for attracting recruits, so I hope the atmosphere is electric and the effort downright nasty when the lights go on at Dudley Field.


Anonymous said...

vandy fans are crazy and have been for the past two weeks since the loss to duke.

florida 65
vandy 10

this game is over before the 1st quarter ends

Anonymous said...

GAYTORs - 45
VANDY - 13

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't write the Commies off before they even play the game. I was there the night Bama came in as a 28 point favorite and got beat 14-10.

Anonymous said...

remember that time when this was a vanderbilt blog and we didnt have to deal with random morons? that was nice

Anonymous said...

Not as nice as when we were 5-0 and could live in a land of candy and unicorns, where the thought of losing to Duke and Miss St. never entered our minds. Before Florida made us look like a high school team. Ugh.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, this is bad....real bad..however, we can still regroup and take out UT, Wake or UK and make a bowl...which would be nice

Anonymous said...

I forgot to mention...our special teams BLEW tonight, and that I think is the biggest dissappointment in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

The Commies played the Gators tougher than LSU, Kentucky & Georgia did, in the three weeks leading up to last night.