Thursday, April 19, 2018
Sports

Gators can't afford to overlook Vanderbilt

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

Friday’s sports on TV/radio

TODAYAutosXfinity: ToyotaCare 250 qualifying4 p.m.FS1Monster Energy Cup: Toyota Owners 400 qualifying5:30 p.m.FS1Xfinity: ToyotaCare 2507 p.m.FS1BaseballRoyals at Tigers1 p.m.MLBTwins at Rays7 p.m.Fox Sun; 620-AMIndians at Orioles7 p.m.MLBMarlins at ...
Updated: 22 minutes ago
Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith fractured ankle in car accident

TAMPA – Bucs linebacker Kendell Beckwith had surgery to repair a broken ankle he suffered in a car accident in Louisiana last week, putting his status for the start of the season in question.Beckwith was passenger in car driven by former L...
Updated: 1 hour ago

High school scoreboard for April 19

Thursday’s scoreboardBaseballDixie Hollins 8, Canterbury 0Northeast 13, Lakewood 3Calvary Christian 5, Berkeley Prep 2
Updated: 1 hour ago
Out early: Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

Out early: Here’s the Bucs’ full 2018 schedule

TAMPA — How good can the Bucs be in 2018? Fans will get a good sense in the first three weeks, as Tampa Bay opens the year with three of its toughest games, all against reigning division champions.The Bucs open 2018 in New Orleans on Sept. 9 at...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Lightning’s Hedman a Norris finalist again

Lightning’s Hedman a Norris finalist again

The Lightning's Victor Hedman is a finalist for the second consecutive year for the Norris Trophy, given to the top defenseman in the league. The other two finalists are Drew Doughty of the Kings and P.K. Subban of the Predators, it was announced Thu...
Updated: 4 hours ago
Turns out, Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy is ready for the playoffs

Turns out, Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy is ready for the playoffs

TAMPA — The second period was not even four minutes old Wednesday night when Devils right wing Patrick Maroon skated all alone toward Andrei Vasilevskiy. It was a moment that could turn a game and even a series.A goal and the score would be tie...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Shaquem Griffin: ‘Lightning is going to win the Stanley Cup’

Shaquem Griffin: ‘Lightning is going to win the Stanley Cup’

Former UCF and Lakewood High standout Shaquem Griffin understandably has been focused on the NFL draft next week in Arlington, Tex., where he is projected as a potential second-day pick.But the Lightning's playoff run  hasn't escaped his attenti...
Updated: 6 hours ago
Bucs’ home schedule leaked: Hosting Eagles in Week 2

Bucs’ home schedule leaked: Hosting Eagles in Week 2

The 2018 NFL schedule won't be released until 8 p.m. tonight, but the Bucs' eight home games were posted early — and presumably accidentally — on the team's site, showing what would be a daunting start to the upcoming season.Multiple outl...
Updated: 7 hours ago
Bay area has ‘hit show’ again, thanks to USF

Bay area has ‘hit show’ again, thanks to USF

For the first time since its season commenced, the USF baseball team enters a weekend as the Bulls' feature sports attraction.Basketball ended last month, and spring football ended last Saturday, meaning would-be baseball fans no longer have reason t...
Updated: 10 hours ago
The Mallex Smith effect can take effect for Rays

The Mallex Smith effect can take effect for Rays

ST. PETERSBURG — Mallex Smith has style.Effervescent personality. Pop culture hipness. Sense of fashion with accoutrements.Now the Rays are going to find out if he has game.More specifically, enough game to be a front-line outfielder, even an i...
Updated: 11 hours ago