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Florida 13, Vanderbilt 6: Gators survive a slog in Nashville

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Nothing pretty about this win.

NCAA Football: Florida at Vanderbilt Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

Florida never trailed at Vanderbilt. The Commodores never got within four points after Florida’s first score, either, and finished the day with a final failure by an ineffective passing game.

Still, there is little for the Gators to be satisfied with after their 13-6 win on Saturday.

The passing game? It’s been reduced to Austin Appleby misfiring on most of his deep shots and the underneath routes yielding just short gains. Appleby threw for 144 yards on 28 attempts; his longest completion was a 33-yarder to C’yontai Lewis.

DeAndre Goolsby, meanwhile, had eight catches for a total of 37 yards.

The running game? Well, Jordan Scarlett had 55 yards on 12 carries, and a touchdown, but the Gators allocated 23 carries to players other than Scarlett, too, and none were as consistently effective as the sophomore. Scarlett was present for Florida’s longest stretches of offensive success, and absent too often.

The run defense? Ralph Webb, Gainesville High’s pride and joy, ran for 110 yards on the depleted front, which played without Caleb Brantley, Bryan Cox, Jr., Joey Ivie, and Jordan Sherit for all or part of the game. Two other Vandy players, Khari Blasingame and Darrius Sims, added 64 yards on just seven carries. Tackles for loss were few and far between.

The pass defense? That was okay, with Teez Tabor and Nick Washington each snagging picks, and Jarrad Davis — who had 15 tackles — flashing in coverage. But Vandy still managed to convert a handful of long third downs with stunningly little resistance from the Gators.

The special teams were fine, one supposes, with Johnny Townsend punting beautifully and Eddy Piñeiro hitting both of his field goals. Antonio Callaway continued to struggle as a punt returner, but he also made the right call to let a late punt bounce, and Florida’s punt coverage teams came up with big tackles and a crucial fumble recovery late.

The Gators, though, come away from this game with questions, not answers. And with a stiffer stretch of their schedule forthcoming, those questions need to be addressed, and soon, lest Florida fail future tests.