Joseph will be breaking down each of the 2008 Florida Gators' opponents and making predictions game by game. Please feel free to give your input and make your opinions known throughout the series by commenting below.
Game Nine vs. Vanderbilt, November 8
Info: The Vanderbilt Commodores got off to a great start 2007. After winning five of their first eight games, Vandy was on the cusp of their first bowl bid since 1982.
However, the Commodores had yet another disappointing end to their season, dropping their final four games to finish at 5-7. Once again, Vanderbilt was left on the outside looking in during bowl season.
Offseason: Vanderbilt lost eight starters from last season’s offense, including three time All-SEC wide receiver Earl Bennett. Bennett, the all time SEC leader in receptions (236), was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the third round of the 2007 NFL Draft.
On the recruiting trail, head coach Bobby Johnson struggled, but managed to sign a respectable class. Three star recruits linebacker DeAndre Jones and wide receiver John Cole headlined Johnson’s 2008 class. Rivals.com ranked Vanderbilt 90th on their annual list of the nation's top recruiting classes.
2008 Outlook: Vanderbilt is currently in re-building mode and will struggle through a tough SEC schedule in 2008. The Commodores travel to play at No. 1 Georgia, No. 23 Wake Forest, and Mississippi State. The home slate doesn’t get any easier, with visits from No. 5 Florida, No. 18 Tennessee, and No. 11 Auburn.
Vanderbilt will also welcome Coach David Cutcliffe and Duke to Nashville for the "2008 Scholastic Bowl."
As for Vanderbilt, their greatest strength lays in the secondary, led by preseason All-SEC defensive back D.J. Moore. Moore will lead a unit that finished 18th and 16th nationally in pass defense and total defense, respectively.
As for the offense, the major spotlight will be on the quarterback competition between senior Chris Nickson and junior Mackenzie Adams. Nickson began 2007 as Vanderbilt’s starting quarterback, but struggled with the injury bug throughout the season.
As for Adams, he started the last six games of the year for the injured Nickson, recording a 2-4 record during that stretch.
Nickson will begin the season as Vanderbilt’s starting quarterback, but Adams will see plenty of action for the Commodores in 2008.
Game Prediction: Florida 52, Vanderbilt 17
The Gators travel to Nashville after a big win over Georgia in the “World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party.”
Will the Gators suffer a letdown against Vanderbilt? Not likely.
Vandy’s talented secondary will prove tough against Florida’s passing attack early, but Florida’s four-headed monster at running back, led by tailback Chris Rainey, will keep the Commodore defense guessing.
The much improved running game will open up the offense for Tim Tebow to lead Florida to a blowout victory over Vanderbilt.
As for the other side of the ball, the Florida defense will come out firing on all cylinders, oozing with confidence after the big win over the ‘Dawgs. Look for the Commodores to struggle in the run game due to the Gator pass rush, led by defensive ends Jermaine Cunningham and Carlos Dunlap.
The Gators are now 9-0 and will head back to Gainesville for a matchup with Steve Spurrier and South Carolina in “the Swamp.” The Gamecocks, once again, will have an opportunity to spoil Florida’s title hopes at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
Hawaii | Miami (FL) | Tennessee | Ole Miss | Recap, Games 1-4 | Arkansas | LSU | Kentucky | Georgia | Recap, Games 5-8 | Vanderbilt | South Carolina | The Citadel | Florida State | SEC Championship| Bowl game