It wouldn’t have been much of a consolation. But at least it would have been something.
Vanderbilt kicker Ryley Guay had the opportunity to kick a very sad field goal late in the fourth quarter of a 49-0 UF blowout. Those three points wouldn’t have changed the outcome, but they would have prevented UF from earning its first shutout over an SEC foe since 2012 and third overall shutout of the season.
But instead of kicking from 45 yards out, a delay of game pushed the Commodores back five yards, and Guay’s kick sailed way left.
It was that kind of afternoon for Vandy. The Gators only allowed 128 yards of offense — the least under Mullen — as they dominated the ‘Dores, 56-0.
“We had to come out here and show what kind of team we are,” said receiver Trevon Grimes, who led the team in receiving with 95 yards and a score. “That we’re not going to back down, and we’re going to fight until the end.”
Early in the game, though, it didn’t appear as if the result would be so lopsided.
Both teams traded drives that went nowhere to open the game. On the Gators’ second possession, the offense looked much more effective.
Quarterback Kyle Trask moved the team down to the Vanderbilt 27-yard line, but facing third and 10, he threw an ill-advised pass over the middle of the field that was promptly intercepted by Commodores safety Tae Daley.
Florida (8-2, 5-2 SEC) outplayed Vandy (2-7, 1-5 SEC) in the first quarter, outgaining it 152-14. But as the frame came to an end, the game remained scoreless.
That changed on the opening play of the second quarter, when the Gators went for it on fourth and goal from the 1-yard line. Trask floated up a two-handed pass to running back Lamical Perine on the option, who took it in for the score to give UF a 7-0 lead.
Florida followed the score with a big defensive play. Vanderbilt quarterback Deuce Wallace — who still hadn’t completed a pass — underthrew a crossing route and was picked off by safety Donovan Stiner, who returned it to the Commodores 23.
Four plays later, Trask kept it himself for a 9-yard touchdown run, and the Gators went up 14-0.
Florida threatened to extend its lead with time running down in the first half, but a pass to the end zone bounced out of receiver Van Jefferson’s hands into Daley’s for his second interception.
UF had 277 yards of offense in the first 30 minutes, but its two turnovers kept the game within reach.
Trask and Co. came out of the gates firing in the second half, though. After forcing a Vandy three-and-out, Trask hit receiver Trevon Grimes on a short route, and Grimes outran the Commodores defense down the sideline to push the lead to 21-0.
After another touchdown drive for the offense, which was capped off by a pass to tight end Kyle Pitts, the defensive unit decided to get in on the action.
True freshman linebacker Mohamoud Diabate, who had a career day Saturday with three of UF’s six total quarterback takedowns, strip-sacked Wallace and edge rusher Jonathan Greenard scooped and housed it.
“I heard everyone cheering, and I thought they were just cheering for the sack,” Diabate said. “Then, I saw (Greenard) running, and I was like 'Oh snap, let me run too.'”
Trask recovered from his two turnovers to have his most productive day in a Gators uniform. He threw for 363 yards — the most for a UF player since Tim Tebow’s swan song in the 2010 Sugar Bowl — and three touchdowns while adding another score on the ground. His backup, Emory Jones, scored three rushing touchdowns.
According to Trask, however, that’s not enough to satisfy him.
“The receivers did a great job getting open,” Trask said. “And I think we could’ve put up a lot more but I’m really proud of the way our guys performed today.”
Follow Tyler Nettuno on Twitter @TylerNettuno. Contact him at [email protected]