The Gators, now 7-2, may not earn a ticket to the SEC Championship and College Football Playoff dreams are dead. However, with the opportunity to win 11 games for the first time in seven years, Florida has a chance to build before the season’s end.
When Vanderbilt (2-6) comes to town Saturday, Florida can prove to the world — and itself — that the fight isn’t over.
Keeping Morale High
“Character” was the word Coach Mullen returned to after the loss in Jacksonville.
Last season, the team faltered after losing to Georgia. A soul-crushing 38-17 score in the Swamp to then-unranked Missouri proved that.
Now, a second consecutive L to Georgia means the team no longer controls its own destiny in the SEC. But, the Gators do control their own destiny as far as getting back on track.
Florida is favored to win out in the regular season, according to ESPN’s Football Playoff Index. Based on that, the team must get out of its head and take control.
…is not a very good team. Save for a win over a pretty good Missouri team, the Commodores’ only other win came over Northern Illinois. Even 2-7 UNLV managed to take a win in Nashville.
On Saturday, the ‘Dores fall far below full strength. Deuce Wallace, a junior and third-string quarterback, will get his first career start with the first- and second-string QBs sidelined due to concussions.
Florida fans know a player without a collegiate start can win on the road. However, an inexperienced quarterback, say, Bo Nix, will tell you that the Swamp is a hard place to play.
Wallace will have Vanderbilt’s top receiver, Kalija Lipscomb, back on the field, though. Lipscomb did not play in his team’s most recent game (South Carolina) due to “personal reasons.” The Commodores dropped the game to the Gamecocks, 24-7.
Who’s In, Who’s Out?
Gators starting offensive lineman Chris Bleich entered his name into the NCAA Transfer Portal Tuesday. It is likely redshirt freshman guard Richard Gouraige will take his place, as Gouraige was getting more reps in favor of Bleich lately.
Offensive coordinator John Hevesy said true freshman Ethan White will assume the role of “swing” lineman, or a lineman who can sub in on the left or the right, if needed.
BUCK Jeremiah Moon (foot) is out for the season. Linebacker Amari Burney (knee) will not play against Vanderbilt. Losing Moon is a blow to Florida’s already depleted defensive line. Burney is a proven playmaker week to week, as well.
How to Watch
The game kicks off in the Swamp at noon Saturday. The game will be broadcast on ESPN.