The Gators take on SEC East foe Vanderbilt for this year's homecoming game on Saturday. The Commodores have not beat the Gators in the swamp since 1945 and have won a game against the Gators since 1985. Although they have not beat the Gators, the Commodores have come close and given some great Florida teams a scare. In 3 of the last 5 games between these two teams the game has been decided by 6 points or less, including the last two.
Games in the SEC team are always tough and Vanderbilt has already had one upset road win on the season against South Carolina. While their offense is not very good, Vanderbilt's defense has been very good. Vanderbilt has the third best overall defense in the SEC, leads the league in sacks, and have 14 interceptions on the year. They went into Columbia earlier this year and dominated a good South Carolina team, beating Steve Spurrier for the first time in a long time. The Gator players better not be thinking about last weeks loss going into this game, because Vanderbilt will give them a good game.
Vanderbilt's bad offense will go up against a gator defense that has not been good at all this season. The Gator defense started out well on the season stopping the run, but allowing big plays. Since the gators went to SEC play they have not stopped the run at all at times and the secondary is still giving up those big plays. The Gators got more bad news about the defense this week when they found out that defensive tackles Estopinian and Antwine are both done for the season with injuries. With only three healthy defensive tackles on the roster the Gators have talked about playing a 3-4 defense and now have converted offensive lineman Mike Pouncey to the defensive line. Pouncey has actually looked pretty good on the defensive line this week and will get some playing time. The Gators did get some good news on defense when freshman Safety Major Wright practiced this week and has said he will play. With Wright out of the lineup last week the Georgia offense picked on Kyle Jackson all game in the secondary and running the ball at him. Wright will help in run support and is a much better cover man than Jackson.
Offensively the Gators need to make sure they hold onto the ball and make the plays that are there. Tim Tebow's shoulder is still sore and the Gator staff will want him to stay in the pocket more like he did last week. With Tebow hamstrung in the pocket the Gators will lean on Brandon James, Jarred Fayson, and Percy Harvin to get a ground game going. James is going to get the start this week for Kestahn Moore after Moore had two more costly fumbles last week. Moore has been given the opportunity to succeed and he has failed, so it is time to let James and the others get a shot at making plays for this team.
The Gators should get wide out Riley Cooper back this week. Cooper is another deep threat the Gators can use to open up the field and spread the defense out. The offense will still rely on Tebow and Harvin, but others like Caldwell and Ingram will need to step up and make plays at the wide out spot as well. Ingram provides a bad match up for most people, but was not used well last week, so hopefully the Gators can get him involved in the game. The Gator offense does take a hit when Tebow cannot run, but he does have the arm to make the throws and line will need to protect him from that Vandy pass rush. If they can keep Tebow up and get a running game going they will win this game.
Prediction: 31 - 27