NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Vanderbilt returns for its final two home games of the season, starting with a matchup at 11 a.m. CT Saturday against No. 6 Florida. The contest will be televised live by ESPN.
Vanderbilt will honor service members as part of its Salute to Service game. In connection to Salute to Service, the Commodores’ helmets Saturday will have a sticker featuring the U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell.
— Derek Mason (@CoachDerekMason) November 19, 2020
The Commodores are coming off a 38-35 defeat at Kentucky in what was their best offensive performance of the season. Quarterbacks Ken Seals and Mike Wright each threw touchdown passes and Wright rushed in a score as well while Vandy totaled 407 yards of total offense, went 11 of 17 on third down and 4-for-4 in the red zone.
No. 6 Florida (5-1, 5-1 SEC) comes in having won three in a row since a loss at Texas A&M on Oct. 10. The Gators sit atop the SEC East Division standings.
Vanderbilt and Florida will face each other for the 54th time with Florida holding a 41-10-2 series advantage. The Gators have won six in a row dating back to 2013.
Here is more on how to watch, listen to and follow Saturday’s contest as well as five key matchups when the Commodores (0-6, 0-6 SEC) face the Gators:
When: 11 a.m. CT Saturday
Location: Vanderbilt Stadium
Bob Wischusen (play-by-play), Dan Orlovsky (analyst), Paul Carcaterra (reporter)
Vanderbilt IMG Sports Network
Announcers: Joe Fisher (play-by-play), Norman Jordan (analyst), Kevin Ingram (sideline)
On-Air Time: 11 a.m. CT
Pregame Show: 10 a.m. CT
Affiliates: WQZQ 830 AM, 93.3 FM, 101.9 Nashville; WNSR 560 AM, 59.9 FM Nashville; WALV 105.1 FM Chattanooga; WEKR 1240 AM Fayetteville; WJJM 1490 AM, 94.3 FM Lewisburg; WMPS 1210 AM, 103.1 FM Memphis; KASR 92.7 FM Conway, Arkansas
SiriusXM online: 962
Facebook: Vanderbilt Athletics
Game day hashtag: #RTI | #ANCHORDOWN
65 degrees at kickoff, 10 percent chance of rain
1. A TALL TRASK
Hard to argue that Kyle Trask won’t be the best quarterback the Vanderbilt defense has seen in 2020.
Trask, a redshirt senior from from Manvel, Texas, is completing 70 percent of his passes this season and has racked up 2,171 passing yards. He’s completed 28 touchdowns and been picked off just three times.
Named the Maxwell Award Player of the Week two weeks in a row, Trask will face a Vanderbilt defense that is allowing 257.8 yards per game (90th nationally) and 9.9 passing yards per completion (115th nationally).
Vanderbilt’s defense – and secondary – will undoubtedly have to play its best game of the 2020 campaign to come away with a victory.
2. GROUND ATTACK
Vanderbilt hoped to have a three-headed monster at running back in 2020. But for various reasons, Keyon Henry-Brooks, Ja’Veon Marlow and Jamauri Wakefield have rarely been able to take the field at the same time this fall.
Regardless of whether all three can go Saturday, Vandy still needs to continue to run the ball effectively with whichever back is available. Henry-Brooks has been the go-to ball carrier is recent weeks while Marlow performed well in the season’s opening two games.
Florida’s defense has surrendered 150.8 yards per game on the ground (53rd nationally) so there will be room for the Dores to run. And part of Vanderbilt’s best defensive strategy may be to play keep away as much as possible.
3. HOLES IN THE DEFENSE
For all the accolades the Florida offense has received through six games in 2020, the Gators’ defense may have some cracks in it – and Vanderbilt will need to expose every one to spring an upset Saturday.
Head coach Dan Mullen’s team is giving up 30.0 points per game and every opponent this season has scored at least 17. Florida is allowing 260.5 passing yards per contest, has given up 132 first downs and allowed the opposition to convert 42.2 percent on third down.
Those could be salivating numbers for a Vandy offense, which appears to be finding some footing after a slow start. Seals is 52-for-78 (66 percent) passing the past two weeks for 561 yards and the Commodores as a team have eclipsed the 400-yard mark the last three times on the field.
The Dores’ offense will have to do exactly what they did last week at Kentucky: Go perfect in the red zone and play turnover-free football.
4. BIG PLAY SATURDAY
Beware of fireworks Saturday.
Vanderbilt has allowed 33 plays of 20 yards or more this season while Florida has gained 20 or more yards on a single snap 43 times. But the Gators have also given up eight passing plays of 40 yards or more this season and four of more than 50 yards.
That could all be a concoction for some quick scores and highlight-reel worthy moments Saturday. Vandy will hope those moments are more in its favor than not.
5. BEATING ELAM
Florida’s defense faces one of the premier cornerbacks in the SEC this weekend in Kaiir Elam.
Elam, a 6-foot-2 sophomore, has recorded eight pass breakups and intercepted another to go along with 21 tackles. Locating Elam before every offensive snap will be crucial for Seals and Vanderbilt offensive coordinator Todd Fitch.
Whomever Elam lines up against will be a matchup to watch, considering the elevated play of Vandy wideouts the last few weeks. Cam Johnson, Chris Pierce and Amir Abdur-Rahman have emerged as Seals’ top wide receiver targets and Pierce has at least one touchdown catch each of the last three games.
Chad Bishop covers Vanderbilt for VUCommodores.com. Follow him @MrChadBishop.