My first car was a ‘65 Mustang, classic in name only. We paid $200 for it and it had a burnt valve, a transmission that slipped, leaking water pump, a hole in the floor board, and rust along the rockers. It got me to where I needed to go, but about every other day I would have to stop on the side of the road to add oil, transmission fluid, or stop-leak in order to make my destination. It was a “get by” at best. For the last few seasons, every time the Gators go on defense, I can’t help but feel like I’m driving that old clunker again, looking like crap and barely getting to where I need to go and wondering when it’s finally going to leave me on the side of the road. It hasn’t yet, but it just feels like it’s only a matter of time. The sad part, and I’m repeating myself from past articles and recent seasons, is that we have a really dynamic and potent offense, led by a Heisman Trophy contender with a really good receiving corps, and a running game that’s getting a little better and more reliable each week. I shouldn’t have to fret so about having to out score each opponent instead of knowing we can get the stops when we have to. But that’s where we are and that looks to be the script. If we make it to face Bama in the SECCG, we may need to score a hundred as long as we’re just getting by defensively. Some fans will tell me that I can’t be satisfied since we won by three TDs. They’ll also remind me that Vandy always gives us their best game. Always. Yeah, maybe so, but I’m a big believer that you are what you consistently do and for a while now, stinking it up defensively is half of what we are. We missed a ton of tackles...again, and we gave up 400 yards of offense to a winless team with a freshman signal caller. At times, we couldn’t cover and we struggled to get lined up. We’re seven games in. When do we see consistent and better play from the defense? *Vandy did a good job with their tempo and as noted, we had trouble with our alignments and assignments for much of the afternoon. We also reverted to terrible tackling, highlighted by poor angles, grabbing or diving, and poor football positioning (too damn high). Sean Davis was guilty on numerous occasions and I point this out because he usually brings the effort, but his technique was pretty poor. He wasn’t the only one. *It’s one thing as a Safety to keep the action in front of you, but when the opponents catch the ball 10 yards in front of you, they have the advantage. We look like we’re in prevent / umbrella with our Safety techniques much of the time. *Ventrell Miller was a bright spot prior to dinging his shoulder. Effort has always been there, but technique hasn’t. That seems to be improving as his angles look much better. Hope he’s healthy next week. I’m hoping Houston is back next week also. I don’t like it when we have the skinny minnies playing ILB. *I like Elam and think he’ll be a good one before all is said and done, but right now he’s simply a little better than his struggling position mates. His pick was timely, but his protracted dance and subsequent penalty was ridiculous. *We did seem to get a grip at times on their running game, holding the Commodores to 87 yards rushing. Of course, they were without their #1 back. We also found a way to get some pressure on the QB with Cox getting a sack and Bogle and Dexter combining for one. Slaton, Carter, and Campbell didn’t seem to get pushed around as much as our fronts have earlier in the season. *”Third and Grantham” was back as Vandy was 7/15 on third down conversions. *Is it just me or do we have trouble covering the post / slant? It’s not good when their TE beats us off the line with these routes. *Offensively it didn’t seem like we were clicking even though Trask threw for 383 with three TD passes and we rushed for 173. 586 total yards isn’t too shabby, but maybe coming on the heels of our 63 point explosion last week just makes it pale by comparison. If this was an “off” game offensively, we’re doing okay even though A&M is still in the back of my mind. *Tip of the cap to Jacob Copeland. Five receptions and some good routes is refreshing and long awaited. I’ve been critical, but maybe he’s turning the corner. If he’s blocking, then he made strides today. *Pierce had a good day with 55 yards on 11 caries with a TD. He’s our most dependable, but it’s nice to see Davis doing good things on the ground and as a receiver. Ball security has been good also. *Good to see Gamble step up in Pitts’ absence. Between him and Zipperer, we haven’t lost a step, but just the same, I’ll be glad to get Pitts back healthy. He’s still pretty sporty and a matchup nightmare. *Toney, Grimes, Shorter, et al are a pretty special group. I didn’t expect the group to be as good on the heals of the guys we lost from last year, but they have quickly made a name for themselves. Toney’s release on his TD catch was a thing of beauty. Another ankle breaker that left him wide open. Now if he’ll just cut out some of the jukes and work on gaining ground vertically. *The OL isn’t perfect and we’ve got a couple of guys who struggle, but they’re better than what we’ve had for what seems like forever and they’ve gotten a little better each game. It’s good to see us rush the ball effectively. You might say we ought to be able to with everybody dropping seven or eight against us, but we have struggled against these favorable alignments previously. I’m glad to take the positives with this group wherever we can get them. *I was thinking this afternoon that we’ve been a lot better where penalties are concerned, the holding that negated Toney’s return and Elam’s boner notwithstanding. Seems like forever we’ve always had double figures in penalties. I hope this trend continues. * I wouldn’t mind all the replays if more would have worked in our favor. All debate aside, I’m always happy with a win, but I can’t help but be critical of our defense... We might do great things things at the season’s end and we’ve certainly got one of the best offenses and QBs to do it. But my brain tells me that if we haven’t corrected the fundamental deficiencies by this juncture in the season, we likely won’t. It would be a shame not to reach the loftiest of goals, especially with our high octane offense, because our defense can’t get a stop (or stops) when we need them. But even Saban said things have changed in the game, that a great defense no longer beats a great offense most of the time. You have to have a D that can allow you the opportunity to score at least one more time than the opposition and so far Grantham and Co. aren’t close to that. I’d hate to think we’d need the stars to line up in our favor, but until we see otherwise, that might be what it takes. Next up...UK. You know we’ll get their best, but that’s ok as long as we give them ours. With Trask and the offense, we’ll always have a chance. That part of the season has certainly been the most pleasant and feels very similar to our O under SOS. You feel like we should score every time we get the ball. That’s a great feeling. May it continue. Go Gators!