Gators Weekly: Florida handles business in Nashville, has tall task ahead

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The Florida Gators touched down in Nashville as a one loss team… that one loss came to another Tennessee team, the one over in Knoxville. And Jim McElwain made sure that wouldn’t happen again.

Florida and Vanderbilt’s rivalry has been ongoing for years, but lacks the real intensity of a rivalry. Many might not even call it a rivalry, but just another game. At least, that’s what it seems like for Florida fans… just another game.

Florida is 37-10-2 all-time against the Vanderbilt Commodores and this Saturday it was just another game in Nashville, Tennessee. Vanderbilt’s Derek Mason made certain that his team wouldn’t go out without a fight. And fight they did.

Vanderbilt’s defense kept the Gators’ points and yards to a minimum. A defense that’s very skilled year in and year out held Florida to 13 points and just 236 yards of total offense. Every year, the same theme seems to be revealed. The Gators simply don’t take the Commodores serious enough. It is “just another game” after all. Sometime in the near future, Vanderbilt will get there. For the past few years, they’ve been inching closer and closer to a victory against the boys from ole’ Florida, and one day, the Vanderbilt faithful will be hooting and hollering instead of the orange and blue. Just not this year.

In a game that ended 13-6, it was nowhere near a blowout. However, the Gators had control of this one from the opening kickoff. The running backs had another subpar game with just 92 yards and Austin Appleby had 144 of his own, not bad. But the defense was the key in this one.

Defensive dominance has been written all over the University of Florida football team for years, and this game was no different. The Gators recorded two interceptions in this one, one courtesy of Teez Tabor and the other coming from Nick Washington. Jarrad Davis had the best game of his career with a career-high 15 tackles, and the Gator “D” forced a fumble, as well. Without the defense Florida has, it’s hard to tell if they still would have won this game. The offense is still right on the verge of “good enough.” Good enough to beat Kentucky, good enough to beat Vanderbilt. But lightyears away from good enough to beat the powerhouses of college football. Thus far, it’s been up to the Gator defense to win games, and that’s how it’s going to be for the time being.

Safety Nick Washington celebrates after his first career interception

Safety Nick Washington celebrates after his first career interception

Credit is given where credit is due, however, as always. Vanderbilt may not have the highest scoring offense or most electrifying plays, but their defense knows how to keep the other team in check. All-SEC linebacker Zach Cunningham leads this defense, and had 14 tackles of his own on Saturday. Derek Mason has had this defense at the top of the SEC in his time Nashville, and has shown no signs of stopping.

This Florida team has already put Vanderbilt behind them, however. Their focus now shifts to next week, a home game against LSU. LSU fell from top 5 to unranked in just five games and even let go head coach Les Miles. This Tiger team is no team to sleep on, however.

LSU is never a team to overlook despite a 3-2 record and an interim head coach. The Tigers are always at the top of the SEC and if the Gators take them too lightly, they could get bit.

Prediction for Week 6, LSU @ Florida: The Tigers come to town in their second game without long time head coach Les Miles in command. They routed Missouri 42-7 last week, however and have proven not be played with. They’re not a team that will go far this year, nor are they a team to go winless the rest of the season, however. It could be a close one between two “average” teams.

Final: LSU 16 UF 12

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