Game preview: Florida vs. Vanderbilt

October, 12, 2012
10/12/12
8:00
AM ET
No. 4 Florida (5-0, 4-0 SEC) at Vanderbilt (2-3, 1-2 SEC)
Saturday, 6 p.m. ET
Vanderbilt Stadium, Nashville, Tenn.
ESPNU

Three storylines

1. Maintain and even keel: This game is sandwiched between LSU and No. 3 South Carolina, so Florida has to be careful to maintain the same emotional level it has had for the past few weeks. The Gators can’t get caught looking ahead to the South Carolina game. Good teams win these kinds of games with little fuss.

[+] EnlargeJeff Driskel
Sam Greenwood/Getty ImagesAfter facing LSU last week, Florida QB Jeff Driskel will have a chance to get back on track against Vanderbilt.
2. Get Jeff Driskel back into a groove: The passing game struggled against LSU and Driskel had his worst game of the season. He had made steady progression since he started his first game against Texas A&M but hadn’t faced a defense as good as the Tigers. He reverted back to holding onto the ball too long and pressed a bit. Offensive coordinator Brent Pease needs to get Driskel going again by calling some short, quick timing passes to get him back into a rhythm.

3. Contain QB Jordan Rodgers: Rodgers hurt the Gators last season with his feet, both as a runner and in keeping plays alive with scrambles. But UF did a good job against Texas A&M QB Johnny Manziel in the second half this season after the Gators did a better job of being disciplined in their rush lanes, so that should help against Rodgers.

Gators to watch

S Matt Elam: He had a big game against LSU and made the game’s key play when he stripped WR Odell Beckham after a long gain. He’s having the best season of his career and has become the playmaker the defense has needed in the secondary.

RB Mike Gillislee: Gillislee got himself mentioned as a Heisman Trophy candidate with his performance against LSU (146 yards, two TDs). UF leads the SEC in time of possession thanks in large part to Gillislee and his ability to handle a heavy workload.

TE Jordan Reed: Reed didn’t make much of an impact against LSU, but he’s Driskel’s favorite target and should get much more work against the Commodores.

Tigers to watch

WR Jordan Matthews: He’s the SEC’s leader in receptions (35) and receiving yards (486). He burned the Gators with nine catches for 170 yards and one touchdown is last season’s meeting.

RB Zac Stacy: He needs just 217 yards to become Vandy’s all-time leading rusher and is three rushing TDs shy of the school’s modern-day record holder. He has run for 413 yards this season.

S Kenny Ladler: Ladler leads the Commodores in tackles (35) and has one interception and one sack. Vandy has the SEC’s third-best pass defense (162.4 yards per game).

Key matchup

Florida LB Lerentee McCray vs. Vanderbilt OT Andrew Bridges

McCray (6-foot-3, 249 pounds) is the Gators’ best pass rusher, although he has only two sacks. More importantly, though, he’ll play a big part in containing Rodgers and keeping him from getting loose on the edge. Bridges (6-6, 280) is one of Vandy’s least experienced starting offensive linemen (10 starts).

By the numbers

21 -- Number of consecutive victories Florida has posted over Vanderbilt. The last time the Gators lost to the Commodores was 1988.

27 -- Number of total catches UF’s wide receivers have this season. Matthews has 35.

35:19 -- Florida leads the SEC in time of possession.

Mike DiRocco | email

ESPN Jacksonville Jaguars reporter

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