- Mike DiRocco, ESPN Staff Writer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- For the second consecutive week, Florida didn't throw the football very well. But -- again for the second consecutive week -- the Gators didn't really need to because the running game carried the offense. Here are the good and bad from the Gators' victory at Vanderbilt Stadium on Saturday night.
1. Next man up
Florida started the game without starting LG James Wilson. By the end of the first half, the Gators lost two more starters along the offensive line: C Jonotthan Harrison and LT Xavier Nixon. Yet Florida was still able to rush for 326 yards with reserves Sam Robey, Ian Silberman and D.J. Humphries on the field. The Gators also didn't have two other starters and lost several other key players for significant amounts of time. That Florida was able to overcome all those injuries is proof that the Gators have quality depth they didn't have the past two seasons.
2. Special teams account for 15 points
For much of the season, the Gators' big plays on special teams have been limited to P Kyle Christy flipping field position. But the units came up big on Saturday. UF got a two-point conversion when Trey Burton ran the ball in off a direct snap when the Gators were lining up for a PAT. The Gators also blocked a field goal, ran a fake punt that eventually led to one of QB Jeff Driskel's three TD runs, and Andre Debose returned a kickoff 60 yards that set up a field goal.
3. Another turnover
Florida forced just 14 turnovers last season, the fewest in a single season since the school began keeping fumble stats in 1950. The Gators have already forced 11 so far this season and have forced at least one turnover in four consecutive games. On Saturday, it was LB Jon Bostic sacking Vanderbilt QB Jordan Rodgers and forcing a fumble that LB Neiron Ball recovered. That led to a field goal and increased the Gators' points off turnovers total to 38.
Florida's passing game put up pretty paltry numbers for the second consecutive week (77 yards). Part of the reason is that the Gators were without TE Jordan Reed for a bit, threw the ball horizontally, and had some pass protection issues because of the injuries along the offensive line. But the receivers dropped three passes (two by Burton, one by Frankie Hammond) and again had trouble getting separation. Quinton Dunbar wasn't on the field much and freshmen Latroy Pittman and Raphael Andrades aren't ready to handle roles as go-to receivers. The group has got to start making plays the way it did through the first four games of the season.
2. Third-down troubles reappear
The Gators had been one of the nation's worst third-down teams through the first three games (converting only 27 percent), but they went a combined 19-for-31 (61 percent) against Kentucky and LSU. But against Vanderbilt, the Gators went 2-for-11, including 0-for-4 in the second half. UF threw the ball on four of its 11 third downs. Driskel went 0-for-4.
3. Penalties grow
After committing 14 penalties in the season opener, the Gators had been averaging six per game. That number will go up after the Gators were penalized 10 times for 80 yards against Vanderbilt. The Commodores' second touchdown drive was helped by a holding penalty on CB Marcus Roberson, which wiped out S De'Ante Saunders' interception. The Gators also were penalized for having too many men on the field coming out of a timeout.