Thursday, November 23, 2017
Sports

Gators can't afford to overlook Vanderbilt

RECOMMENDED READING


GAINESVILLE — Florida will host Vanderbilt at noon on Saturday in a football game with huge implications for the remainder of the Gators' season.

No, really.

With a road game at No. 13 South Carolina and the season finale against No. 3 Florida State still looming on the schedule, the unranked Gators desperately need a win against Vanderbilt to keep their bowl hopes alive. The Gators (4-4, 3-3 SEC) need six wins to become bowl eligible.

Florida has defeated Vanderbilt 22 consecutive seasons and last lost to the Commodores in Gainesville in 1945.

And yet with Florida on a three-game losing streak, still struggling and inconsistent in every facet, not one bit of that matters right now.

"I wouldn't say that would boost our confidence, playing a team that we've beat 22 years in a row, just because we're not the same team as those other 22 teams," Florida QB Tyler Murphy said. "They (Vanderbilt) beat Georgia. We didn't beat Georgia, and they're off a bye week so they have an extra week to prepare for us and get healthy. So we're going to have our work cut out for us.

"It will be an exciting game to be back in the Swamp. It will be a challenge, but it will be fun."

Florida will play at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium for the first time since Oct. 5. The schedule this season had five of its final seven SEC games away from Florida Field.

"Seems like it's been forever," coach Will Muschamp said.

While Murphy and S Jaylen Watkins said Monday they are aware of how important wins are for their bowl status, Muschamp said he won't try to use that as motivation for his team. It's not necessary, he said.

"Motivation is what you saw in the second half (scoring 17 unanswered points vs. Georgia), those guys playing for each other," Muschamp said. "We've got a close-knit football team, a team that's got character and you wouldn't have seen that in the second half if that wasn't the case. So our guys will play, they'll play hard."

GOLDEN OPPORTUNITY: Vanderbilt enters Saturday's game coming off a bye week, which has given the Commodores ample opportunity to rest and prepare. Vanderbilt coach James Franklin said the majority of veteran players spent last week just participating in walk-through and tempo periods, then helped teach and coach scrimmages with younger players.

"We were able to give our veterans a lot of down time," Franklin said. "Guys that have played a lot of reps, I think we held 26 players out from practice.

"We took a different approach in bye week No. 2 compared to bye week No. 1. … We were able to get a little bit of a head start on Florida last week watching film, our coordinators and coaches as well. That was good and that's an advantage for us."

PERSONNEL CHANGES: Muschamp confirmed on Monday that director of player personnel Jon Haskins has resigned. He said there is no timetable for hiring his replacement. "I'm busy coaching the team and don't have a whole lot of time," Muschamp said.

HISTORY-MAKING: Florida soccer player Savannah Jordan on Monday was named SEC offensive player of the year, the first freshman in SEC history to earn that honor. Teammates Havana Solaum and Christen Westphal were also All-SEC first team selections. Last year Florida senior Erika Tymrak was named SEC offensive player of the year. Jordan leads the team in goals (20) and points (41). Her goal total is tied for second nationally.

Antonya English can be reached at [email protected]

Comments
Nikita Kucherov really does admire Patrick Kane

Nikita Kucherov really does admire Patrick Kane

TAMPA — Lightning wing Nikita Kucherov has watched plenty of film on Blackhawks star Patrick Kane.Kucherov marveled how the 2015-16 league MVP uses deception to "hide" from defenders. He noticed how patient Kane was with the puck, how well he passed ...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Lightning beats Blackhawks in OT

Lightning beats Blackhawks in OT

TAMPA — The Lightning entered Wednesday’s game against the Blackhawks determined to avoid its first losing streak of the season. And it did in dramatic fashion, with Brayden Point’s power-play goal in overtime lifting it to a 3-2 victory. "A big boun...
Updated: 4 hours ago

Joe Smith’s takeaways from Wednesday’s Lightning-Blackhawks game

Every Lightning-Blackhawks game at Amalie Arena has a good representation of red in the stands. And Wednesday’s matchup was no exception, with a large contingent of transplants and travelers. "It feels like half the city of Chicago is traveling down ...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Thursday’s sports on TV/radio

TodayCollege footballMississippi at Mississippi State7:30 p.m.ESPNCollege basketballMissouri vs. Long Beach State11:30 a.m.ESPN2Tennessee vs. Villanova12:30 p.m.ESPNSt. John’s vs. Oregon State2 p.m.ESPNUPortland vs. North Carolina2:30 p.m.ESPNNorth C...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Niederreiter stays hot for Wild in win

Niederreiter stays hot for Wild in win

BUFFALO, N.Y. — Nino Niederreiter and Mikael Granlund each scored two goals to lead the Wild to a 5-4 victory over the Sabres on Wednesday night. Tyler Ennis also scored, and Mikko Koivu and Ryan Suter each had two assists as the Wild snapped a two-g...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Stitches don’t cool off LeBron

Stitches don’t cool off LeBron

CLEVELAND — LeBron James shook off a blow to the face and scored 23 in the fourth quarter — including 18 straight for Cleveland — as the Cavaliers won their sixth straight, 119-109 over the Nets on Wednesday. James needed stitches in the third quarte...
Updated: 5 hours ago

Basketball: USF Bulls bounce back with rout of Howard; FSU, Miami win

TAMPA — Three nights after running out of steam in a loss at Indiana, USF had enough to steamroll Howard of the MEAC.A 17-1 run late in the first half helped the Bulls to a 75-52 win Wednesday before an announced Sun Dome crowd of 2,080. USF (3-2) he...
Updated: 6 hours ago

Thanksgiving Day NFL previews: Vikings-Lions, Chargers-Cowboys, Giants-Redskins

Updated: 6 hours ago

Sports in Brief

GYMNASTICSEx-Olympic team doctor pleads guilty to abuseLANSING, Mich. — Former doctor Larry Nassar, who was accused of molesting girls while working for USA Gymnastics and Michigan State University, pleaded guilty Wednesday to multiple charges of sex...
Updated: 7 hours ago

Updated: 7 hours ago