Photo Credit: Zach Goodall
For the No. 20 Florida Gators (3-2, 1-2 SEC), the team's matchup today against the Vanderbilt Commodores (2-3, 0-1) couldn't have come at a better time. The team is coming off of one of the worst losses in the Dan Mullen era, falling 20-13 against the Kentucky Wildcats.
The Gators got off to a hot start in the first quarter, jumping out with a quick two touchdowns during the first quarter of the contest.
The Gators would end the first half with a 21-point lead, pitching a shutout, up 21-0 at halftime. A solid performance from the better program.
It's homecoming weekend for the Gators, and this year they're celebrating its past Olympians as honorary Two Bits today.
If only for a morale boost, Florida needed to get right this week, and the Commodores aren't exactly a powerhouse team within the SEC. Thus far this season, Vanderbilt has won just two games, one against Colorado State and another against Connecticut.
Two weeks ago the Commodores fell 62-0 against the Georgia Bulldogs, the Bulldogs' largest victory over an SEC opponent in program history. Simply put, Florida needed the opportunity to assert its dominance and work out any issues the program had in the previous week.
For Florida, the team would be without its starting left tackle, instead, using Michael Tarquin at the position. Cornerback Kaiir Elam and running back Malik Davis would also not suit up for the game today.
With Davis unable to go, it would be Nay'Quan Wright and Dameon Pierce as the two primary backs for Florida today. That would become clear right away to open the contest as Wright took the ball 34 yards to the Vandy one-yard line, with Pierce cleaning up, scoring first on the day.
The second score of the first quarter would come with almost five minutes remaining from a touchdown toss from QB Emory Jones to receiver Ja'Quaivon Fraziers. With Florida up 14-0, the team's defense would hold Vanderbilt to just two field-goal attempts during the first half.
While Vandy was able to move down the field a couple of times, they were unable to connect on either field goal attempt.
Returning for another week, Florida redshirt freshman QB Anthony Richardson was about to enter the contest but quickly turned it over, tossing an interception on his first throw of the game. Richardson finished by completing just two out of four of his passes for eight yards and the aforementioned interception.
With Davis out today, Wright certainly took advantage. During the first half, Wright accounted for 94 total yards, including 43 rushing yards and 51 receiving yards. While he did not account for a score, he was the catalyst for at least two of the team's three scores during the first half.
The team's leader on offense, Jones would finish the first half completing six out of 11 of his passes for 112 yards and two touchdowns.
Ultimately, Florida would finish by shutting out Vanderbilt, asserting their dominance in most facets of the game, clearly looking like the better opponent on the day.
While Florida did look nice during the first half, they only generated 15 more yards than Vandy during the first half at 215 yards compared to 200. The team also struggled with penalties again, accumulating five for 55 yards. Interestingly enough, Vanderbilt actually accumulated 14 first downs, compared to Florida's eight.
After a week of looking inept, unable to finish on offense, Florida has certainly rebounded, at least for now as it gets set to secure its fourth victory of the season.