Dores Defense Can't Finish Strong Start

Commodore defenders give team chance at Florida

by Chad Bishop

GAINESVILLE, Florida. — Vanderbilt’s defense did all it could to help the Commodores stick around Saturday in a hostile environment. In the end it wasn’t nearly enough to help Vandy end a six-game losing streak to Florida.

The No. 10-ranked Gators scored 42 points in the second half en route to a 56-0 win at Ben Griffin Stadium. That score wasn’t indicative of how hard Vanderbilt’s defense played through the first two quarters.

“To be honest, it wasn’t good enough,” Vanderbilt safety Tae Daley said. “That’s what it boils down to. We held ‘em to 14 points in the first half, but it’s a 60-minute ballgame. We got to be better all the way around – me included – everybody.”

Vandy left Florida scoreless through one quarter and to just 14 points at the break. Daley had a career day with two interceptions – both coming inside the red zone – and linebacker Dimitri Moore made a team-high nine tackles.

The Commodores also in the first half got a fourth-down stop for a turnovers on down and forced a Florida missed field goal.

Florida (8-2, 5-2 SEC) totaled 277 yards of offense in the first half, but where it counted it could only muster the 14 points. That allowed the Dores to have some hope going into the break.

“Defense played a sold, 30-minute football game and kept us in the hunt. But it got out of hand real fast because of mistakes,” Vanderbilt head coach Derek Mason said. “I want everybody to own it. I’m always going to own it. That’s the not the way we want to play. That’s not what we’re looking for. I love these guys in the locker room, but when it’s all said and done it’s a production game and we weren’t very productive.”

Unfortunately for Vanderbilt, its offense found little green space against the Gator defense. Quarterback Deuce Wallace started for Riley Neal (concussion) who had started the previous week for Mo Hasan (concussion). Wallace finished 7 of 18 passing for 60 yards and an interception.

The redshirt junior was also sacked six times.

The Commodores finished with 128 yards of total offense, went 3 of 15 0n third down and had just 12 first downs.

And when Vanderbilt finally put a potential scoring drive together late in the third quarter, Wallace was sacked which caused him to lose the ball. Florida’s Jonathan Greenard picked it up and took it 80 yards the other way to the house.

“We had a couple opportunities, especially early in the game,” Wallace said. “The defense opened up with a fourth-down stop and then had another turnover early in the first quarter.

“We had opportunities to make something happen – and we were close. We just couldn’t do it. And we’ll fix that.”

Now playing without the possibility of going to the postseason for the third time in four seasons, Vanderbilt (2-7, 1-5 SEC) will at least finish the year in the state of Tennessee. The Commodores host Kentucky (4-4, 2-4 SEC) at 2:30 p.m. next Saturday before welcoming in East Tennessee State on Nov. 23 and traveling to rival Tennessee on Nov. 30.

There is still plenty of time to get things turned around before the end of the season.

“There’s got to be some changes,” Mason said. “I just don’t like what I see all the way around. There’s some things that got to be changed.”

• Neal and senior wide receiver Justice Shelton-Mosley did not play Saturday.

• Florida shut out Vanderbilt for the first time since 1993 (52-0).

• The Commodores were shut out for the first time since Sept. 23, 2017 (59-0 at Alabama).

• Daley became the first Commodore to have two interceptions in one game since Oren Burks made two Nov. 14, 2015 against Kentucky. Ryan Hamilton holds the program record with three in a win at Mississippi in 2008.

• Vanderbilt is now 10-41-2 against Florida and 2-23-1 In games played at UF.

• In 21 career games with Vanderbilt, Vanderbilt running back Ke’Shawn Vaughn has 2,062 rushing yards – the ninth-most in Vandy history. He needs 571 yards (190.3 ypg over the next three games) to finish third all-time behind Zac Stacy (3,143) and Ralph Webb (4,173).

• Vaughn still needs two rushing touchdowns to move past Jerry Seymour (19) for third on the program’s career rushing touchdowns all-time list. Zac Stacy (30) is second and Ralph Webb (32) is first.

• The Commodores have now been outscored 187-52 in the second half this season and 97-0 in the second half of the last four defeats.

• Attendance on Saturday was announced as 86,201.