GAINESVILLE, Fla. (CBSMiami.com) – The Florida Gators have gone from a top 25 team with a 4-0 record to a team struggling to keep up as it has stumbled to four consecutive losses.
The worst part of the losses is that outside of last Saturday’s game against Georgia, the Gators haven’t even been competitive in conference games.
Now, the Gators will try to break the losing streak by welcoming in Vanderbilt to the unfriendly confines of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
Vanderbilt, traditionally the SEC’s doormat, has lost two of their last three games by a combined eight points. Last weekend, Vanderbilt took number seven ranked Arkansas to the wire before falling to the Hogs, 31-28.
Vandy’s defense is allowing just 22.5 points per game and is ranked fourth in the SEC in rushing yards per game at 125 yards per game, according to cfbstats.com.
But Vandy’s passing defense has struggled this season, with one exception. The Commodores are second in the SEC with 15 interceptions on the season.
But the Commodores have returned three of those interceptions back for touchdowns this season, which has kept them in many games.
Vandy’s defense will look to tame the Gators offense that averages 26 points per game in 2011, according to cfbstats.com.
Offensive coordinator Charlie Weis’ offense has struggled mightily, ranked eighth in the conference in total offense, gaining 337.8 yards per game.
Weis’ offense should improve again this week with quarterback John Brantley back under center again.
Brantley is the only quarterback on the roster capable of running the pro-style offense this season and when he went out for three weeks; Florida’s offense fell off a cliff.
Florida’s biggest problem on both sides of the ball has been turnovers. For the season, the Gators have a minus eight turnover margin, which is the worst in the SEC.
Given that Vandy is an interception machine, Brantley will have to throw carefully if he wants to avoid a Commodores upset.
The Florida vs. Vanderbilt game can be seen on the SEC network starting at 12:21 p.m. Saturday.