The 2-6 Commodores have a rough looking matchup this week against the No. 10 Florida Gators and their lofty 7-2 record.
Here are the three keys for an upset win.
By Steve Wright
Help the quarterback
Playing against a defense known for creating havoc plays to turn the ball over usually requires an experienced quarterback that doesn’t get flustered in the pocket. Vanderbilt will not have that luxury on Saturday against the disruptive Gators.
Both Riley Neal and Mo Hasan – the two QBs who have started games for Vandy this season – are in concussion protocol and have been ruled out. That means coach Derek Mason will be running with a combination of Deuce Wallace and Allan Walters.
This is a game that could get ugly if the rest of the Vandy team doesn’t step up to help out whichever quarterback is in the game.
Dirty up Florida
The Gators are in an interesting position. They are ranked in the Top 10 in the country, but with a pair of losses they are essentially out of contention for a spot in the College Football Playoff. This is a team that has been running close to its potential – especially on defense – but is their heart going to be in this game after their loss to Georgia in Jacksonville last week?
If Florida isn’t at the races early then Vanderbilt has to take advantage. Making them make mistakes, forcing penalties, those are the types of effort plays that can keep Vanderbilt close in this game if the Gators are unmotivated.
Get the offense some short fields
Ke’Shawn Vaughn is great. The rest of the Vandy offense really isn’t. Wallace was 8-of-17 for 30 yards and a pair of picks in relief of Hasan against South Carolina last week. That just won’t get it done here.
Vanderbilt needs some help on offense from the defense and special teams units. A couple of good returns in the kicking game – or a couple of turnovers returned to plus field position – will be essential in an upset bid.