Sunday, November 19News That Matters

Vanderbilt football loses 38-24 to Florida: 5 things we learned


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Vanderbilt has suffered back-to-back losses to No. 1 Alabama and No. 20 Florida.
Adam Sparks

 

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Vanderbilt lost 38-24 to No. 20 Florida on Saturday.

The Commodores (3-2, 0-2 SEC) fell behind thanks to 17 unanswered points by the Gators (3-1, 3-0 SEC), beginning just before halftime. A rally came up short in Vanderbilt’s third straight game against a Top 25 team.

Here are five things we learned from Vanderbilt’s road loss:

More: Vanderbilt football looks tired, stays mostly dry in loss to Florida: Best and worst

Vanderbilt defense could not get off the field

Florida’s Malik Davis broke a 39-yard TD run on fourth-and-1 with 1:42 remaining to secure the win. It was fitting for Vanderbilt’s defense, which allowed the Gators to extend drives with third-down and fourth-down conversions all afternoon.

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Florida finished 7-of-16 on third downs and 3-of-3 on fourth downs, and it dominated time of possession 36 minutes to 24.

“This was a game of attrition. This game was won and lost in the trenches,” Vanderbilt coach Derek Mason said. “Defensively, you’ve got to get off the field.”

Vanderbilt was hurt by Florida quarterback’s injury

Luke Del Rio, the Gators’ starting quarterback, left in the second quarter with a left shoulder injury after taking a hit from Vanderbilt defensive lineman Dare Odeyingbo, and Florida later announced he is out for the season. The Commodores took a 17-14 lead just as Del Rio went to the locker room, but they were outscored 24-7 after that.

Feleipe Franks, who threw the Hail Mary game-winning TD pass to beat Tennessee, replaced Del Rio and immediately completed a 49-yard pass to set up a game-tying field goal just before halftime. Franks then led Florida on back-to-back TD drives in the second half.

Del Rio was 7-of-11 passing for 64 yards. Franks was 10-of-14 passing for 185 yards.

“(Franks) has a big arm, and we needed to get back and stop those explosive plays,” safety LaDarius Wiley said. “He came right in and threw a big deep ball, and that’s on us to stop those.”

Kyle Shurmur was hot and cold, but got no help

Shurmur either lost his grip or badly misfired on four awkward incompletions to start the game. After that, he got hot and connected on 10 of his next 17 passes for 180 yards and two touchdowns. His passing game was grounded through much of the third quarter and then returned in the fourth quarter.

Shurmur finished 18-of-40 for 264 yards, three TDs and no interceptions.

“Kyle Shurmur carried the day,” Mason said. “He fought and he kept us in it.”

During those ups and downs, Shurmur wasn’t complemented by a ground game. Ralph Webb, a Gainesville native, was bottled up all afternoon, and Vanderbilt had only 46 rushing yards.

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Vanderbilt wide receiver C.J. Duncan reflects on 38-24 loss to Florida.
Adam Sparks

Injuries took toll on Vanderbilt secondary

One of Vanderbilt’s deepest preseason positions has been hit hard by the injury bug, and it showed in a makeshift rotation. Starting cornerback Tre Herndon sat out due to an unspecified injury suffered against Alabama the previous week. His backup, cornerback Bryce Lewis, missed a third straight game with a leg injury. Senior Taurean Ferguson, who started nine games last season at nickelback, returned from a four-game suspension to start at cornerback against Florida.

Mason said Herndon and Lewis should return against Georgia in next Saturday’s game.

Kalija Lipscomb retains title as red-zone target

Lipscomb, a sophomore wide receiver, made a leaping catch of Shurmur’s 13-yard pass for a touchdown in the first quarter. It was Lipscomb’s fourth TD reception in five games. It also continued his early season proficiency around the goal line. Lipscomb had two TD catches in his first three games as a freshman last season.

Reach Adam Sparks at asparks@tennessean.com and on Twitter @AdamSparks.

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