Another week, and another injury for Florida's football team.
Offensive tackle Tyler Moore's broken elbow (via a scooter accident) now gives the Gators nine season-ending injuries and more headaches for an offense that has been in the dumps for the last month.
Florida hasn't won a game since beating Arkansas 30-10 on Oct. 5, and the Gators haven't hit 400 yards of offense since Sept. 28 against Kentucky.
So how do the 4-4 Gators (3-3 SEC) get a homecoming victory over Vanderbilt (4-4, 1-4)? Play like there's no tomorrow.
Each week, we've talked about how Florida needs to run the ball or create more plays in the passing game. We've talked about a need for the offensive line to toughen up. We've talked about the offense needing to be more creative.
For the last three weeks, none of that has happened and the Gators have gone 0-3. Gators coach Will Muschamp is feeling the heat and a 6-6 season might be on the horizon -- so could a 5-7 one. It's time to realize that no drastic changes are coming to an offense that has lost its starting quarterback, starting running back and its three most experienced offensive linemen for the season.
It's become a mental game for the Gators. Vanderbilt poses a threat because the Commodores have more confidence, are fighting for a bowl berth, have had an extra week to prepare and have a defensive line that could make Florida's beat up O-line miserable. Vandy coach James Franklin will have his Commodores acting like sharks with chum in the Swamp, so Muschamp has to make sure his wounded Gators aren't left helpless.
Last week's 23-20 loss to Georgia could linger this weekend. The SEC Eastern Division championship is beyond a long shot at this point, so pride and a bowl game are on the line. Muschamp's job looks to be safe through this season, but a loss to Vanderbilt would make things a lot harder for him in Gainesville.
Muschamp said after the Missouri game that he and his team would come out of the corner they backed themselves into swinging. They landed some punches in the second half against Georgia, but not enough. Now those punches have to connect on Saturday, or this team is toast.
Florida certainly has the talent advantage on defense, but with Jordan Matthews at receiver, the Commodores will make some plays. That means the offense has to do its part. Kelvin Taylor has to open things up in the running game and extend plays with his feet. Tyler Murphy has to be more efficient in the pocket. When he as time, he can't be tentative like he has been. He has to make plays down the field. And this makeshift offensive line has to come together and gel better than it has all season.
If there was ever a must-win situation for the Gators, this is it. A win moves Florida closer to the postseason. A loss, and who knows what sort of mindset this team will have going forward.