Florida Tennessee Sept. 24th Preview
Arguably the game that will determine the SEC East takes place this Saturday in Knoxville. For the 46th time Florida and Tennessee will face off. The Gators lead the series 26-19 and currently hold an 11 game win streak. The last two meetings were decided by a single point.
Although both Tennessee and Florida are walking into Saturday’s game 3-0, they’ve both had their struggles.
Tennessee opened their season with a home game against Appalachian State. The Volunteers overcame a 10 point deficit at halftime and managed to pull out a 20-13 win in overtime.
The following week Tennessee beat Virginia Tech 45-24, but the score doesn’t necessarily represent the level of play the Volunteers displayed. Tennessee’s passing game struggled, while QB Joshua Dobbs threw for only 91 yards. In addition, their offensive line was consistently inconsistent. Helping Tennessee out, the Hokies were responsible for 5 turnovers, all of which were recovered by the Vols.
Tennessee went into week three hoping to show some improvement. That wasn’t the case against Mid-American conference opponent Ohio. The Vols had 9 penalties for 94 yards, along with a fumble. During the first half they lost cornerback Cam Sutton and linebacker Jalen Reeves-Maybin to injuries. Tennessee squeaked by 4 touchdown underdog, Ohio, 28-19.
Florida didn’t exactly dominate their first game either. The Gators did just enough to beat 36 point underdog, UMass 24-7. The Gators had 8 penalties for 80 yards.
In week two Florida extended their winning streak against Kentucky to 30 in a 45-7 win. QB Del Rio threw for 320 yards, while the offense had a total of 28 first downs. Florida also showed the country that they are loaded at running back. Thompson, Perine, Scarlett, and Cronkrite each had success.
This past weekend the Gators had a shutout victory against North Texas. The Florida defense was on fire. They held North Texas to a total of 53 yards. They are currently the number 1 defense in the country. Unfortunately for the Gators, QB Luke Del Rio took a questionable hit to the lower knee late in the third quarter. He suffered a MCL sprain that will keep him out 2-3 weeks. That means next man up for Florida. Veteran QB Austin Appleby will be the starter in their upcoming game against the Volunteers.
So how will Saturday’s rivalry play out?
Without a doubt, Tennessee’s offense will be put to the test. The Gator’s defense is allowing only 1.31 yards per rush attempt, while causing a turnover, sack, or tackle for loss on 29.33% of plays. Some may say this is because the Gator’s haven’t faced any real competition, but no matter who they’ve faced allowing only 14 points on 150 plays is impressive. It’s going to be a battle for the Vol’s offensive line. Dobbs will have to be efficient and accurate in finding open receivers. The key for Florida’s offense on the other hand will be establishing their running attack early. They’ll also have star receiver Antonio Callaway back after suffering bruised quadriceps in the Kentucky game. That should give the Gator’s passing game a boost and a plus for QB Appleby.
Saturday’s matchup holds a lot of weight and the potential to set the tone for both Tennessee and Florida’s season.