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Gators look to avoid “trap” with Vandy game

Josh Ciganek

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(Photo by Mat Gdowski/Icon Sportswire)

The Florida Gators did it again last week, coming back from a 13-point deficit to defeat the Kentucky Wildcats 28-27. This is the second week in a row that Florida has come from behind to win a game in the closing moments and each against two pretty decent football teams.

This week, the Gators host the Vanderbilt Commodores in what could be a possible “trap game,” if Florida isn’t careful. The Commodores are coming off of a very rough loss last week, being shut out by Alabama 59-0. However, the Vanderbilt team looked pretty solid in its three games prior to facing the top team in the country. They opened the season 3-0 after wins against the likes of Middle Tennessee, Alabama A&M, and Kansas State.

With only Kansas State being ranked higher than Florida, Vanderbilt has got a deep amount of talent on their roster. Quarterback Kyle Shurmur has posted a 71% completion percentage and has thrown for eight touchdowns so far this season. He is accompanied in the backfield by rotating running backs Ralph Webb and Khari Blasingame, with Webb taking the majority of the carries and finding the end zone twice.

This will be an interesting game for Florida. The Gators will need to keep their eyes on Vanderbilt only this weekend, though they take on LSU for homecoming next week. After all of the drama that ensued with LSU last year, Florida might be a little too eager to face the Tigers and forget about the current challenge in front of them.

Vanderbilt is going to come in with a chip on their shoulder after the humiliating blowout loss to Alabama. It is imperative that the Gators to remain focused on the Commodores, if they expect to continue their winning ways. Each of the last two games between these teams have been Florida wins, but more importantly only one-score victories including a 1-point win last year for Florida.

In a game that could have scary potential for the Gators, it is still quite possible to come away with an easy victory. But, 59-0 loss last week or not,  the Commodores should not be overlooked.

Josh Ciganek is a young draft pick working his way up the depth chart on the F.F.I. roster, who enjoys watching and writing about all of Florida’s football teams.

Florida Gators

Gators announced home and home series with Cal Friday

Florida Football Insiders

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Bryan Lynn-USA TODAY Sports

The Florida Gators continued their philosophy of striking “home-and-home” deals with Power 5 opposition, when they announced on Friday that they will be doing so with the Cal-Berkley Bears out of the Pac-12 coming later in this decade.

The Gators made the announcement through their website and social media mid-day Friday that they will play Cal at home first and then travel to Berkeley the following year:

A.D. Scott Stricklin has broken up the long tradition that Florida would only play two home out of conference games in September and usually, against much lesser competition before entering SEC play. Stricklin has been very outspoken that in the age of the College Football Playoff, strength of schedule is emphasized and the selection committee holds schools responsible for not playing top-notch out of conference opponents, at least some of the time.

With that in mind, the Gators opened the 2019 season in Orlando against the Miami Hurricanes and won a sloppy game. And, they already have other Power 5 schools laid out to play home and away.

As we previously wrote, Florida will be playing the Texas Longhorns first in Gainesville in 2030 and then. return the game the following year in Austin.

Florida had previously announced last year that they will also play the Colorado Buffaloes out of the Pac-12, again with the first game in Gainesville in 2028 and then, returning it to Boulder the following season.

It’s interesting with Friday’s announcement that Stricklin and the football program are working backwards with the schedule. And, they will now play Cal before Colorado in September of 2026, and then will be opening on the Berkeley campus the following season.

Florida and Cal have only met two times, having played first in Gainesville in 1974 as the Gators wo 21 – 17 and then, they also met in Tampa to open the 1980 season with a Florida 41-13 blowout victory.

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Florida Gators

Second National Signing Day recap for top state schools

Jamil King

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Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

National Signing Day 2020 has come and gone, and several in state schools were able to improve their classes heading into spring ball. The University of Florida watched rival Georgia secure the number one overall class, but the Gators were still able to land the best class in the state with the number eight class overall.

The Gators officially signed former five-star receiver Justin Shorter from Penn State, and Florida stayed in the family today as well, Xzavier Henderson officially joined the Gators. He’s the ounger brother of  former DB C.J. Henderson.

Dan Mullen also able to dip into the state of Texas inking four-star DE Princely Umanmielen. It wasn’t all great news for the Gators, as they missed out on a few key guys, including losing out on arguably top state safety Avantae Williams to in state rival Miami. Overall it was a good cycle for the Gators both recruiting and in the transfer portal.

The Miami Hurricanes continued an impressive offseason on National Signing Day. The Canes made arguably the biggest move in the state by landing Williams and keeping him Florida. Williams became the highest rated Hurricane in the class and propelled the U to the number 13 spot.

Miami has the second-best class in the ACC behind Clemson. With an impressive offseason in the books, once again excitement will be in the air in Coral Gables. The question is: will they live up to it in year two for Manny Diaz?

Florida State and new coach Mike Norvell have been working hard to get this class rolling last minute. After a good early National Signing Day Norvell looked to keep the momentum going. The Noles took a big hit Wednesday though, with the loss of Venice four star WR, Malachi Wideman, who flipped to Tennessee.

The Noles came back from that by landing a handful of other recruits. They got the number six Juco running back La’Damian Webb, ass well as, Robert Scott, an offensive lineman and Corey Wren, an athlete/running back.

Replacing Cam Akers will be tough for Norvell and building the offensive line is a top priority. The former Memphis coach came in late like he did, yet he finishes with a decent class sitting at 22 on 24/7.

Now the work begins turning around the former powerhouse.

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