No. 6 Florida hopes to keep its College Football Playoff hopes alive when it visits Vanderbilt on Saturday.
Florida (5-1, 5-1 Southeastern Conference) has been on a roll since its 41-38 loss to Texas A&M on Oct. 10, thanks to an offense that averages 45.8 points, 511.7 yards per game and 7.4 yards per play.
Gators quarterback Kyle Trask has 2,171 passing yards with 28 touchdowns and three interceptions to establish himself as a Heisman Trophy contender.
Trask has plenty of help. Eight Gators have logged at least 100 receiving yards with tight end Kyle Pitts leading the way with 24 receptions, 414 yards receiving and eight touchdowns.
The defense is doing its part as well. Zach Carter was named the SEC’s defensive lineman of the week for the second time this season after Saturday’s three-tackle, one-sack performance that included a 35-yard touchdown on a fumble return in a 63-35 victory over Arkansas.
The Commodores (0-6, 0-6) are watching their season go in a different direction and the problems start on defense.
Vanderbilt ranks 12th in the SEC in scoring defense (35.8 points) and 11th in total defense (443 yards). Its 7 yards allowed per play is 12th in the league. Vanderbilt also ranks last in the SEC in turnover margin at minus-seven.
Kentucky is last in the league in total offense and defeated the Commodores,38-35, on Saturday. The Wildcats didn’t punt until the final seconds of the third quarter.
But Trask said the Gators won’t take the Commodores lightly, even after a 56-0 home victory over them last season.
“Some people even said (Arkansas) was a trap game, but we did a great job of ignoring all the outside noise and focusing on our job and what we can do and just practicing to our full potential every single day,” Trask said. “… We’re not playing (just) to win every game, we’re playing to play to our full potential every game, which obviously, hopefully, includes winning.”
Vanderbilt has at least found a bright spot with a young offense that is guided by first-year coordinator Todd Fitch. The Commodores exceeded 400 yards total offense in each of the last three games.
A pair of true freshman quarterbacks have been a reason for excitement.
Ken Seals has hit 66.8 percent of his passes for 1,291 yards and eight touchdowns. There have also been eight interceptions, but Seals showed growth against Kentucky by not turning over the ball.
Backup quarterback Mike Wright also accounted for a rushing and passing score when inserted in a pair of goal-to-go situations last week.
There might be opportunity to move the ball against the Gators, who give up 411.3 yards and 30 points per game.
Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason secured his seventh losing season at Vanderbilt in as many tries with a 38-35 loss at Kentucky last week. Speculation has only grown as to whether Mason will return to for an eighth year.
“I haven’t had any conversations with anybody,” Mason said this week, when asked if he has spoken with school officials about his future.
–Field Level Media