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Florida 38, Vanderbilt 17: Gators survive slow start, roll Commodores

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The Gators started slow — and still ended up where they have more often than not.

Florida vs Vanderbilt Photo by Tim Casey/Collegiate Images/Getty Images

Vanderbilt led 7-0 and 10-7, also getting the ball with a chance to go up by 10 points. Kyle Trask didn’t get his usual four touchdowns, having to settle for just three. Florida’s defense was, well, Florida’s defense.

And it all still added up to a relatively relaxed win for the Gators in Nashville, as they moved to 6-1 by a 38-17 score.

Trask completed 26 of 35 passes and threw for 383 yards and three touchdowns, snapping a streak of games with four or more touchdown passes that dated to the first game of his spectacular season and extending a string of 300-yard games to five.

That fourth score eluded him largely because Emory Jones got it — on a 30-yard Kemore Gamble catch-and-run — and its absence probably won’t damage Trask’s Heisman chances, as the Gators got things in r after punting on two of their first three drives, scoring on four of five non-kneeldown drives spanning from the end of the second quarter to midway through the fourth.

Kadarius Toney (107 receiving yards, one TD) and Gamble (66 yards, two TDs) were key to those drives, as were Justin Shorter (94 yards) and Trevon Grimes (44 yards, one phenomenal TD). And Florida’s ground game grinded out 173 yards on 40 carries without the benefit of single one going for 20 yards.

But Florida was never completely safe until game’s end, when Kaiir Elam picked off Ken Seals to end on final Vanderblt drive. The Commodores racked up 406 yards of total offense — most of them Seals’s 319 yards through the air — and moved the ball well, converting seven of 15 third downs and their lone fourth down.

Florida also never quite sewed things up. A touchdown to go up 31-10 was answered immediately b a long Vanderbilt touchdown pass, and Toney’s fumble cost the Gators a chance to be up by three scores very early in the fourth.

A defense with many known and manifested flaws kept Vandy alive, but so did Florida failing to really pour on the points. (The 38 points is the fewest Florida’s scored this year, though the Gators have no put it up three times.) And an offense that is still potent beyond most coaches’ wildest dreams also still clearly misses Kyle Pitts as its featured target.

But it was Vandy. And Florida may take Vandy lightly, but the Gators also take home Ws when the Commodores aren’t historically good, and this team wasn’t that.