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SEC Game Preview: Vanderbilt Commodores Ready for Gators Showdown

The Vanderbilt Commodores will take on the Florida Gators in the Swamp Saturday. The Commodores are going into this game with a 3-1 record, but haven’t won a conference game yet. They suffered a devastating loss last week to Alabama, failing to score a single point while allowing 59. Both teams are looking for a win to advance in the SEC East standings.

Coach Derek Mason Talks Devastating Loss and Keys for Team

Head Coach Derek Mason said the Alabama game was a tough loss for all of his players, but one game doesn’t define this team. They are coming out of practice this week looking to move forward.

Mason said a key factor for success in the Florida game will be getting the running game going. Commodores running back and Gainesville native Ralph Webb is a huge play-maker for Vanderbilt. Webb entered his senior year with 3,342 career rushing yards, passing Vanderbilt’s all-time leading rusher Zac Stacy. This season, however, he hasn’t been off to a great start, rushing only 164 yards with 2 touchdowns in 4 games. In his last meetup with the Gators, Webb rushed for 110 yards on 26 carries.

Mason said the struggles in the run game have come from the young offensive line.

Quarterback Kyle Shurmur will lead the Vanderbilt offense this Saturday and was an integral part to the win over Kansas State. Shurmur leads the fourth most efficient pass offense in the SEC and has thrown for over 700 yards this season. In their first game of the season against Middle Tennessee, Shurmur threw 296 yards and three touchdowns, tying his career high.

Since Florida’s offense isn’t as efficient as Alabama’s, the defense will have an easier time on Saturday. However, Florida’s defense leads the SEC in sacks per game (3.33) and is second in tackles for loss (7.7) which could prove difficult for Vandy.

Keys to a Win

If Vanderbilt wants to win this game, Ralph Webb will have to step up his run game. He’s the key player for the team and a couple good runs from him could get open things up for Kyle Shumur in the passing game. With Luke Del Rio coming back in for the Gators, the Florida offense should be showing improvement, something that the Commodores defense might not be able to handle.

Game Info

When: 12 p.m.

Where: Steve Spurrier-Florida Field at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium

How to Watch: ESPN 98.1 FM/ 850 AM WRUF

For the Gator’s perspective going into Saturday, check out Jonathan Acosta’s story here. 

About Courtney Mims

Courtney Mims is a junior telecommunications major at the University of Florida. She enjoys covering all Gator sports and drinking gallons of Starbucks coffee while doing so.

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