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Saturday, June 15, 2024

Last week, UF proved that one bruised shoulder can change an entire season.

With quarterback Tim Tebow?s right shoulder hampering his running abilities, Georgia was able to blitz early and often to disrupt the Gators? offense.

The Bulldogs racked up six sacks - more than UF had allowed all season - in the win that knocked the Gators from the top of the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division.

This week will carry the same concern as No. 18 UF faces Vanderbilt, which leads the SEC in sacks.

The Commodores are known for blitzing opponents often, and the formula has worked so far this season.

BOn three out of four snaps, they are bringing either four or five men,C UF coach Urban Meyer said. BThey?re bringing five-man pressure a lot of times, they move their front and they?re disruptive.

BYou have to be very disciplined when you play a team like that because they cause a lot of lost-yardage plays.C

If the threat of Tebow running is absent for the second straight week, the Gators can expect even more pressure from the Commodores.

BWe like to get pressure on the quarterback,C said Vanderbilt linebacker Jonathan Goff, who leads the team with 71 tackles. BI?m really not sure how the coaches are going to call it, but we obviously want to get to the quarterback any way we can.C

What makes Vanderbilt?s blitz scheme hard to stop is its diversity - alternating between three and four down linemen and sending different linebackers on each blitz.

In a 17-6 win over then-No. 6 South Carolina two weeks ago, the Commodores tallied seven sacks for a loss of 50 yards.

Regardless of Tebow?s status, Vanderbilt will bring the same pressure it has all year.

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BWe usually mix it up a little bit,C Goff said. BWe have a game plan coming into the week, and I don?t think it will be anything too different from what we normally do.C

UF?s offensive line was somewhat blindsided by Georgia?s persistent pressure last week, but is expecting pressure against Vanderbilt.

BWith Georgia, they don?t blitz a whole lot from the outside,C UF center Drew Miller said. BThat?s why it hit us as a surprise in the beginning of the game, because they?re not a blitzing team.

BVanderbilt is known for blitzing anyway. That?s just what they do. They bring blitzes about 50 percent of the time, so we?re just preparing for all of that this week.C

Meanwhile, Goff and the Commodores aren?t sure which Tebow they will see Saturday.

BIf he?s not going to run as much, I definitely expect him to try and spread the ball around to those wide receivers and backs,C Goff said. BHe has a lot of offensive weapons to work with.

BI just look for them to spread the ball around to their athletes in open space, where they can take advantage of their athleticism and speed.C

The best way to utilize that speed is still with a healthy, mobile Tebow, and Meyer is staying optimistic about Tebow?s ability to run this weekend.

BHis shoulder is a lot better, so I hope he will,C Meyer said.

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