Tennessee is looking for their second win against the Gators in their past 18 attempts. With the college football world on the rise at Neyland Stadium and the Rocky Top, the Vols head into Saturday’s game with double-digit favorites. Volquest staff provided their game options.
Josh Heupel said his team didn’t have any mental hurdles in this game. That’s good because a lot of us have watched the game over the years, but they did hit this hurdle.
Why? Because Tennessee lost this game in almost every way imaginable. From Gaffney’s no-catch/catch to 4th and 19th and Hail Mary’s 10-9 loss to a team that doesn’t really have a quarterback game. Tennessee has found it impossible to get it done.
Even in 2016, the Vols had to bounce back from a double-digit halftime deficit as they started the game poorly.
Can Tennessee get out of the gate? Josh Heupel’s history is that his team got off to a fast start. A quick start would put a lot of pressure on Florida and Anthony Richardson, and it would send a rabid fan base into a frenzy.
My guess is that Florida played their best game so far this year because that’s what history says, but that’s enough.
The Gators miss Ventrell Miller badly in the middle. Can the Vols take advantage of their still unproven running game and a battered running back group.
Tennessee has been here before. The stage is set. worldview. Game day in town. They have delivered and they have failed. In 2012, Derek Dooley couldn’t do it with his high-intensity offense. Butch Jones rallied to do just that in 2016.
The Vols are the better team in 2022. They’re better at quarterback, which is why Tennessee is in favor and everyone wants them to win.
The truth is that Tennessee should win, but you know me, I have to see it to believe it.
If you’ve seen Men in Black 3, you probably remember a character named Griffin who saw all of these different event scenes ahead of time. In my opinion, that’s how Vol fans feel. They’ve seen all these different scenarios for the outcome of tomorrow’s game. Why? Because they have seen so many different endings in this wild and frantic competition.
Cedric Tillman won’t play tomorrow, so everyone else will have to step up. Bru McCoy is a good fit for an extended role. Jalin Hyatt needs to keep playing well. Tennessee also has to handle the ball well in this game to take the pressure off Hendon Hooker. I think that applies to Hooker playing the running back himself.
The crowd has to play their part, but honestly, Tennessee is giving them a reason to be there the entire game. Florida State has never been easier to play, but Tennessee has been the better team a few times over the past decade and found a way to lose.
So what will happen tomorrow? I know Rob thinks this is a blowout. I certainly think it could be, but a victory is a victory.
Volume 35 Florida 27 No one will complain if the crocodile takes cover.
We all know Tennessee’s struggles in this series. The Vols have lost 16 of their last 17 games in the series and haven’t won since 2016.
In this series, some people feel that there is a psychological barrier in Tennessee. I don’t buy that. It’s New Day on the show for Josh Heupel’s second year, and I don’t think Tennessee brought any emotional baggage into the show.
Likewise, this Florida team has a new head coach in its fourth game in the new system in its first year. Some may disagree, but I don’t think Saturday’s historical significance.
On that day in 2016, Josh Dobbs was at Walls’ center, throwing for 319 yards and four touchdowns while running for 80 yards and another score. By the way, this was the last time Tennessee had a capable, consistent quarterback game until Hendon Hooker took over the job last fall.
Hooker was different for me in this game, no matter who else could attack. Tennessee has a huge advantage at quarterback. Yes, it would be a blow if Tillman couldn’t play, no way, but Hooker still has weapons. If Small is limited or out, I think it’s mostly about depth because I don’t see a huge drop from him to Jaylen Wright.
The defense just doesn’t drive Richardson crazy. The Tennessee coach has repeatedly talked about maintaining integrity in their sprint lane, which has to be a priority. Don’t let him loose and hurt him with his legs. Kentucky almost sat down and dared to beat Richardson with his arm, but he couldn’t. It’s a blueprint that everyone at the SEC is likely to follow until he makes someone pay for it.
The Vols will be racing this weekend in an atmosphere of absolute madness. Neyland Stadium will be a powder keg waiting to explode on Saturday afternoon. If Tennessee can get that crowd excited about an early Rockytop, it’s going to rock in a way it hasn’t in years, and it could be a long day for Florida.
Tennessee: 38, Florida 20
This is a big one. The last time there was so much confidence behind Tennessee — when was it against Florida? A minute passed. Actually, a few minutes have passed. But that’s what happened this week. Tons and tons of confidence.
I’m not saying this is a bad thing. Know where you are in this series (five losses and 16 of 17 games), but also know that the past doesn’t determine the future. There are new players on the sidelines. There’s a new coach on the sidelines. You have two teams at opposite ends of the spectrum in terms of confidence.
Florida State is better than the two MAC teams Tennessee has beaten this season. That’s why I think the victory in Pittsburgh is so important. Walls found a way to win late in that game (well, overtime I guess) when they weren’t making any progress on offense. It prepares this team for a day like tomorrow when things don’t always go their way.
Maybe I’m oversimplifying it, but Tennessee has a good quarterback, and right now, Anthony Richardson isn’t a good quarterback. The sky’s the limit for the 6-foot-6, 235-pound athlete, but he’s currently having some serious issues with his forward pass and has little confidence.
If Tillman can’t go, it’s a blow. But I still love Vols by Jalin Hyatt and Bru McCoy. I’d love to see what this rush defense looks like against a team that has three different guards with good ball handling. Can Tennessee keep Richardson in its pocket as per Kentucky’s blueprint?
I think he’ll play better tomorrow and I think the game will turn into a scrimmage. In Florida, this is no easy task. But Tennessee is the better football team and has a better quarterback. Let’s see if I’m a sucker for Monday, but give me Vols.
35 Tennessee, 27 Florida (hello, below)