Florida's Foes: Vanderbilt Commodores

By Brett Kaplan

It’s homecoming and who better to schedule than the Vanderbilt Commodores! Wait, Florida and Vanderbilt have the same records? This Commodore team is a little bit different and whereas they’re not on the same level as Florida, they’re rising stars in the SEC. This year’s matchup will be a battle of first year head coaches.

Vanderbilt University is a private university founded in 1873, named after Commodore Cornelius Vanderbilt who gave the school its initial $1 million endowment. Vanderbilt started playing football in 1890. Affectionately called “Vandy”, the Commodores play at Vanderbilt Stadium. Vandy has traditionally been at the bottom of SEC in football, coming into today’s game with an 563-570-50, which doesn’t look bad overall. However, since they joined the SEC in 1934, they’ve traditionally not done well. The ‘Dores come into today’s game with a 4-4 record on the year, beating Elon, Connecticut, Ole Miss, and Army. They have lost to South Carolina, Alabama, Georgia, and Arkansas. Their head coach is James Franklin, who is in his first year. Florida leads the series 33-9-2 and owns an 20-game winning streak against Vandy. The Gators are also 18-1-1 against the Commodores at The Swamp.

Jordan Rodgers has taken over for quarterback Larry Smith and has sparked the Commodores a little bit. Rodgers is more of a traditional running back who had mobility. Rodgers is also the little brother of Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers has thrown for 662 yards and three touchdowns, but five interceptions. Rodgers is also the second leading rusher with 256 yards and three touchdowns. Rodgers main targets are WR Jordan Matthews who has 14 receptions for 268 and two touchdowns and WR Chris Boyd who has 15 catches for 242 and four touchdowns. Running back Zac Stacy is the most explosive player on this offense. Stacy’s run for 707 yards and six touchdowns. Rodgers has come in halfway through the season so the season statistics don’t necessarily reflect how well the offense has been working the past couple of weeks. The passing offense averages 152.6 yards per game, the rushing offense averages 167.6 yards per game for a total of 320.2 yards. Vandy also averages 25.3 points per game, good for 80th in the nation.

Linebacker Chris Marve leads the defense with 61 tackles, including six tackles for loss, 1 sack, and one interception. The unit is decent, giving up 22.8 points per game, good for 20th in the country. Vandy gives up 125 rushing yards per game, 206.9 passing yards per game, for a total of 331.9 yards. The strength in Vanderbilt’s defense relies in their ability to take the ball from their opponents. They have intercepted or force fumbled the ball away from their opponents 22 times, with 15 interceptions.

This game is going to be closer than everyone may think. Vandy coach James Franklin has this team heading in the right direction. Florida coach Will Muschamp has a four game losing streak, but the Gators could be in a different position last year. The Commodores don’t have the weapons to keep up with the Gators in the Swamp, but this game should be a nailbiter for Florida fans. It depends how healthy QB John Brantley’s ankle is.

Final Score:
Florida 28, Vanderbilt 21

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