GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks relieved an injured Luke Del Rio and threw for 185 yards in leading the Gators to a 38-24 victory against Vanderbilt on Saturday, Sept. 30, at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville.
Florida (3-1, 3-0 in SEC) ran for 5 touchdowns — Malik Davis gained 124 yards with 2 scores and Lamical Perine added 58 yards and 3 TDs — as the Gators pulled away from the Commodores (3-2, 0-2) in the second half after being tied at halftime.
Florida 38, Vanderbilt 24, 1:42 4th Quarter
Malik Davis breaks free for a 39-yard TD run on fourth-and-1 and this one looks like it’s over in Gainesville.
Florida 31, Vanderbilt 24, 3:14 4th Quarter
Vanderbilt marched down the field and Kyle Shurmur throws his third TD pass of the game to make it a one-score game.
Florida 31, Vanderbilt 17, 14:18 4th Quarter
The good, the bad and the lucky.
Feleipe Franks had a very nice pass to Tyrie Cleveland for 18 yards on third-and-13 to give that eventual touchdown drive life.
But he also bobbled a handoff. Florida had back-to-back false start penalties on third-and-1 and somehow kept moving with a 9-yard Mark Thompson run on third down and a tough 4-yard Lamical Perine run on fourth down. At first glance, I don’t know that Franks is to blame for those in any way, but those are the kind of breakdowns the Gators were hoping to avoid with Luke Del Rio in the game. And then Franks caught a fortuitous break when a pass that could have been intercepted was instead tipped in the air and somehow landed in Freddie Swain’s hands for a 33-yard gain to the Vanderbilt 2.
In conclusion, I still don’t know what to make of Franks, but he and the Gators are producing results.
Perine scored his third touchdown of the game to cap the drive.
Florida 24, Vanderbilt 17, 5:22 3rd Quarter
Finally, the Florida defense delivers a stop after the offense drives for a touchdown.
The credit goes to defensive tackle T.J. Slaton and defensive end Jordan Sherit.
Slaton was wrecking ball through the line to bring Ralph Webb down for a 2-yard loss on second-and-1, and Sherit pressured Vandy QB Kyle Shurmur into an incompletion on third down.
Sherit has been tremendous today and has already been credited with 5 quarterback hurries.
Florida 24, Vanderbilt 17, 6:56 3rd Quarter
Give Feleipe Franks credit. He hit his open receivers near the end of that drive, connecting twice with tight end Moral Stephens for 16 yards and 29 yards to set up Malik Davis’ 1-yard go-ahead touchdown run.
I’m still in wait-and-see mode on Franks. Want to see him show sustained comfort in the pocket, continue to find his open receivers and keep the offense in rhythm.
But that was a big drive for both he and the Gators.
And it looks like the Gators are going to have to keep scoring in this game.
On another note, Stephens continues to emerge in the passing game, which is a surprise given the Gators’ veteran depth at tight end with DeAndre Goolsby and C’yontai Lewis. He’s looked impressive.
Thoughts on the Gators’ QB situation
The Gators just can’t get anything to go as planned this season.
After making a quarterback switch and giving veteran Luke Del Rio his first start of the season, he was knocked out in the second quarter and it looks like the Gators are going to ride redshirt freshman Feleipe Franks the rest of the game.
Franks showed his big arm with that 49-yard hook-up to Tyrie Cleveland, and a few of those downfield plays could keep this offense moving. But Florida either didn’t try many aggressive passes in Franks’ first three starts or Franks didn’t take execute opportunities downfield. So we’ll see.
The bigger concern is all the other reasons Florida made the switch at QB, preferring Del Rio’s veteran poise, command of the offense, ability to make reads and calls at the line of scrimmage, etc., over Franks’ learning-on-the-job ups and downs.
It’s doubtful Franks is going to be a different QB a week later. The fear has to be that the Gators turn hyper conservative again in the second half. Obviously, they’re going to lean on the ground game, as they should, but they have to maintain some balance through the air.
If things bog down, as they have often with Franks under center this fall, Florida could be in trouble with the way Vanderbilt is moving the ball.
I’m not down on Franks. I like his upside. I just still not convinced he’s ready, which is the reason he was replaced in the third quarter last week.
But maybe he’ll change some opinions in the second half.
Either way, a very pivotal two quarters coming up for Florida.
Florida 17, Vanderbilt 17, Halftime
Well hello again, Feleipe Franks.
Replacing injured Luke Del Rio, Franks made his presence felt almost immediately with a 49-yard completion down the seam to Tyrie Cleveland. It was another picture-perfect bomb from Franks to Cleveland, reminiscent of the 63-yard touchdown pass to beat Tennessee.
Florida had three shots from the Vanderbilt 9 after that, but Franks threw incomplete in the end zone to Freddie Swain, Cleveland came down out of bounds on the left side of the end zone on a second-down pass and a short completion to Mark Thompson on third down left the Gators rushing to call a timeout and settle for a field goal.
Eddy Pineiro converted from 21 yards to tie the game at the end of the half.
Vanderbilt 17, Florida 14, 0:43 2nd Quarter
We don’t know the severity of quarterback Luke Del Rio’s injury yet, but what a tough break for a guy who worked his way back from surgeries on both shoulders along with the knee injury.
Making his first start of the season, he gets knocked out in the second quarter with an apparent left shoulder injury while taking a big hit as he got off a third-down pass to Brandon Powell.
Del Rio stayed down for a few moments and finally walked off the field slowly. Feleipe Franks started warming up on the sideline and would take over at QB on the next series.
Vanderbilt, meanwhile, went 60 yards in 9 plays for a 42-yard field goal.
Florida 14, Vanderbilt 14, 6:51 2nd Quarter
That’s twice now Vanderbilt has erased all Florida momentum with an immediate response to a Gators touchdown.
The Commodores went 75 yards in 7 plays and quarterback Kyle Shurmur delivered a strike to Caleb Scott for a 12-yard touchdown.
That’s two major letdown drives from the Florida defense so far.
The Gators allowed Khari Blasingame to pick up 21 yards on a screen reception on third-and-8 and freshman cornerback C.J. Henderson, who had a nice pass break-up earlier in the drive, got beat for a 28-yard connection from Shurmur to Kalija Lipscomb.
After managing just 3 first downs and less than 100 yards in a loss to Alabama last week, Vandy has 9 first downs and 149 yards already.
Florida 14, Vanderbilt 7, 10:03 2nd Quarter
This is exactly how this Florida offense should look.
Freshman playmaker Kadarius Toney got a wildcat carry and a screen pass, and the Gators otherwise rode their ground game.
Mark Thompson looks like a different player this season. He delivered a hard-nosed 10-yard run on third-and-4 while splitting carries this series with Lamical Perine, who capped the drive with a terrific cut on the way to a 13-yard touchdown.
This marks the first time Perine has scored two touchdowns in a game in his career.
I was of the mind that the Gators needed to make freshman Malik Davis their lead back, but Thompson and Perine are proving their worth in this backfield timeshare. So far, so good.
Florida 7, Vanderbilt 7, 2:17 1st Quarter
I do not expect this to become a shootout by any means, but that was an impressive response from Vanderbilt to go 75 yards in 7 plays for the game-tying touchdown.
Vandy QB Kyle Shurmur has looked way off target most of the game, but he threw a nice pass into the end zone there Kalija Lipscomb went up and grabbed it between defenders with an equally nice catch.
Not a good defensive drive for the Gators, but not time to overreact either.
Florida 7, Vanderbilt 0, 6:12 1st Quarter
That is why Luke Del Rio is the Gators’ quarterback now.
A big poise play from the QB and an otherwise smooth series as Florida finds the end zone after a 10-play, 62-yard drive. Lamical Perine scores on a 1-yard run, but give Del Rio credit for getting the Gators down the field.
He ducked under a sack and lobbed a 25-yard completion downfield as tight end DeAndre Goolsby had gotten free behind the defense. Del Rio showed his veteran calm adjusting in the pocket and threw that pass knowing he was about to get hit upon release.
That took Florida to the Vanderbilt 25-yard line, and Del Rio later hit Perine out of the backfield for a 17-yard completion.
Overall, he’s 4-of-5 passing for 47 yards so far.
Florida 0, Vanderbilt 0, 13:05 1st Quarter
I’m going to withhold judgment for now, but the offensive play calling looked as unimaginative as it has for 11 of the first 12 quarters this season.
Good start by the Gators’ defense, though. Interesting moment on third down as cornerback Duke Dawson emphatically instructed safety Chauncey Gardner Jr. on his assignment. Dawson’s veteran presence is vital to that young secondary.
Florida-Vanderbilt game time, information
The Florida-Vanderbilt game is set for a 12 p.m. ET kickoff Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, Fla.
The game will air on ESPN with Dave Pasch on the play-by-play call, Greg McElroy as the color analyst and Tom Luginbill serving as the sidelined reporter.
Here is a list of radio affiliates carrying the game through the Gator IMG Sports Network.
The game can be streamed online via WatchESPN.
- Florida leads the all-time series with Vanderbilt, 38-10-2, and has lost to the Commodores just once since 1989. The Gators are 20-2-1 at home against Vanderbilt.
- That said, three of the last four meetings have been very competitive. The Commodores defeated Florida, 34-17, in 2013, and the Gators slipped by with wins of 9-7 and 13-6 the last two years.
- Florida has made a change at quarterback as redshirt junior Luke Del Rio will make his first start of the season. Del Rio, who went 5-1 as the Gators’ starter last fall, replaced redshirt-freshman Feleipe Franks in the third quarter last week.
- Vanderbilt running back Ralph Webb, a Gainesville native, is off to a slow start, but he has traditionally been very successful against his hometown Gators. He rushed for 110 yards last season against Florida and 118 yards and a touchdown two years ago on his last visit to The Swamp. So far this season, he has not topped 54 rushing yards in any game.
- Vanderbilt quarterback Kyle Shurmur has been very efficient, meanwhile, passing for 721 yards, 8 touchdowns and 1 interception.
- Florida has found a budding star at running back in freshman Malik Davis, who rushed for 93 yards last week against Kentucky and 94 yards the previous week against Tennessee.
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