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Florida Gators X-Factor vs. Vanderbilt: The Art of Containment

The Gators have another chance this week against the Commodores to improve a facet of their game that at times this season has struggled and that is the containment of mobile and dual-threat quarterbacks.

Photo: Princely Umanmielen; Credit: Alex Shepherd 

Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the term "containment" as follows:

1: the act, process, or means of keeping something within limits
2: the policy, process or result of preventing the expansion of a hostile power or ideology

Containment is the theme of the week for the Gators' defense. To have success, the unit must have containment and control. What exactly does that mean and what will Florida have to do to achieve it against the Vanderbilt Commodores on Saturday?

The Gators must execute a task they've reencountered time and time and time again this season, the task of containing a dual-threat quarterback. This week's target? Vanderbilt quarterback Mike Wright. 

Wright currently sits second on the Vanderbilt rushing leaders for the season with 454 yards, only behind tailback Ray Davis with 860 yards. The run game has accounted for 45% of Vanderbilt's offense this season and has been their highest-rated unit on the team, posting an 84.2 rushing grade collectively according to Pro Football Focus, compared to a mere 56.8 passing grade.

The Gators have been gashed a few times this season by dual-threat quarterbacks, starting in week one with Utah's Cameron Rising rushing for 97 yards and passing for 216 yards, followed by Tennessee's Hendon Hooker (112 rushing/349 passing) and LSU's Jayden Daniels (three passing and three rushing touchdowns). 

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In two of those games, LSU and Tennessee, the Gators were not able to overcome the potency of a dual-threat quarterback. To ensure the win streak extends to three games this week, UF's defense will need to be on top of its game at containing Wright to the pocket and forcing him to beat them with his arm, something he has not been able to do effectively for much of the year.

After struggling the previous two games to stop the run, the Gators rebounded strongly against South Carolina, posting their best run-defense performance of the season. To keep Wright from hurting them on the ground, the pocket will have to be contained and the edges cannot let Wright break contain and get outside. 

Among the Gators' edge rushers, Princely Umanmielen leads the pack in run defense and the team in total quarterback pressures (excluding former Florida edge Brenton Cox Jr.'s eight-game season total). Umanmielen will have a good chance to continue his hot hand and a solid test in containing Wright. 

Another important aspect of keeping Wright under wraps, the secondary is going to have to pull its weight as well. By eliminating targets downfield, it could force Wright to have to remain in the pocket for just long enough for the Gators' pass rush to get home. 

UF safety Rashad Torrence II was stellar last week against South Carolina, allowing one catch on three targets for zero yards and posting a team-high 90.0 PFF coverage grade. The rest of the Gators' secondary could not say the same, posting its second-worst coverage game as a unit. 

This week's game poses a similar situation as last week in which the Gators should have a firm grasp on the game at hand, but in order to maintain control, they need to contain Wright and stifle the offense.

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