Gators ready to keep running against Vanderbilt
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Sticking to the ground sure helped the Florida Gators cut back their mistakes.
Now the Gators must prove they keep it up.
''People are going to game plan our run, and there are great defensive coordinators out there that are going to look at the tape and see what they can do to stop us,'' Florida center Max Garcia said. ''But ... as an offensive line we're going to go out there and just keep blocking people and finishing people to the ground.''
The Gators' ground and pound approach routed then-No. 9 Georgia 38-20 last weekend, rolling up 418 yards on 60 rushes. It was Florida's best production against a Southeastern Conference team since 1975 when the Gators ran for 454 against Vanderbilt, helping Treon Harris throw only six passes in his first start at quarterback.
Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason said he expects the Gators to expand their offense since they had time to plan ahead with an open date before beating Georgia. He also wants his Commodores to help force Florida's hand.
''I think they're going to throw the ball more than six times if we can slow down the run game,'' Mason said.
That win tamped down talk of Florida coach Will Muschamp's job security. The Gators (4-3, 3-3) now even have an outside shot at the SEC Eastern Division title if they get some help and take win themselves starting Saturday night at Vanderbilt (3-6, 0-5). Muschamp said the Gators must be focused only on Vanderbilt.
''If we don't take care of our business, nothing else matters and that's kind of where we're at at this point,'' Muschamp said.
The Commodores have found something offensively themselves. Redshirt freshman Johnny McCrary tied a school record throwing five touchdown passes, each to a different receiver, as Vanderbilt thumped Old Dominion 42-28 for a second win in three games.
Vanderbilt has a chance at a rare winning streak over Florida after a 34-17 win in the Swamp last year, though the Commodores have lost 11 straight to the Gators in Nashville.
''We want an SEC win,'' Vanderbilt linebacker Nigel Bowden said.
Here are some things to watch as the Gators visit Vanderbilt:
DYNAMIC DUO: Florida running backs Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor are hoping to back up their best games. Jones ran for a career-high 192 yards and two touchdowns in a dominant win against Georgia, and Taylor added a career-best 197 yards and two scores. It was the most any duo has ever run for at Florida. ''Both of us were hot,'' Taylor said. ''We feel like no one can stop us once we get hot. ... If we can keep doing that, we're going to have great success. I think we can keep doing that for the rest of the year.''
GAINESVILLE NATIVE: Vanderbilt has its own running sensation in redshirt freshman Ralph Webb. He set freshmen records last week with 31 carries for 166 yards against Old Dominion, and he only needs 39 yards to become Vanderbilt's all-time leading freshman rusher. Webb also is the SEC's top freshman rusher and ranks sixth overall in the SEC with 760 yards rushing. Webb said Florida recruited him and not joining the Gators doesn't bother him now. ''Whenever you play a guy like that, I'm sure he has a chip on his shoulder,'' Muschamp said. ''It doesn't look like it's just against the Gators, it's against everybody.''
MORE PASSING: Making his first career start, Treon Harris threw just six passes against the Bulldogs. The Gators figure they'll have to expand the passing game down the stretch, probably beginning against the Commodores.
WHERE'S ROBINETTE: Patton Robinette started at quarterback for Vanderbilt last year in the Swamp, and he started this season at quarterback before a couple of injuries. He's backed up McCrary the past two games, and Mason said they have some tricks waiting up their sleeves.
INJURED GATORS: Florida will be without a couple starters. Safety Keanu Neal has a high ankle injury, while right guard Trenton Brown, who has started six of seven games this year, is out with a bone bruise in his knee.
AP Sports Writer Mark Long contributed to this report from Gainesville, Florida.
AP college football website: http://collegefootball.ap.org/
Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker