Tennessee Volunteers vs. Florida Gators
Saturday, September 25, 2021 – 7:00 PM EDT at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium
The Gators have to be down on themselves after their loss last week to Alabama, 31-29. However, Florida proved they belong in the conversation as a top 10 team and put up a big fight against the Crimson Tide as nearly two-touchdown underdogs, at home. Tennessee, on the other hand, is coming off a 56-0 get-right win over Tennessee Tech. They weren’t challenged in that game but in the previous game, the Vols lost to Pittsburgh, 41-34. Pittsburgh ultimately lost to Western Michigan, a MAC team, last week. That loss looks much worse now for Tennessee.
Florida has scored 35.3 points per game this season and found a way to score 29 points against Alabama last week. That’s a lot of points against one of the best defenses in the league, but for Florida, unfortunately, they also allowed 31 points. The coverage for Florida has been weak, allowing plenty of big plays down the field. The tackling has also been questionable, however, the pass rush and rushing defense has done their job so far this season. The defensive line is likely the strength of the Florida defense.
Offensively, Emory Jones has thrown for 459 yards along with five interceptions and just two touchdowns. He’s not going to beat you passing the football but he will certainly beat you in the ground game. Jones also has 42 carries for 232 yards along with two touchdowns. He’s averaging 5.5 yards per carrying and has helped this team in many ways beyond his subpar arm. When it comes to the Vols, Tennessee hasn’t had real competition just yet. They’ve knocked off Bowling Green, lost to a bad Pittsburgh team, and slaughtered Tennessee Tech, which any power five teams can do.
Hendon Hooker has started at quarterback for Tennessee in their last two games for an injured Joe Milton. He’s thrown for 293 yards and five touchdowns on the season along with one interception. The Vols media and fans are calling for Hooker to start for the rest of the season as Milton really struggled to connect with his passes to start the season.
The offense is likely better with Hooker as a quarterback and while the defense has allowed just 15.7 points per game this season, they just haven’t played against any competition to prove that these numbers don’t lie.
I’m going to go out on a limb and say the Vols numbers are lying. They’re allowing 265 yards on defense, per game, through three games and 422 yards of offense per game. The rushing game has been great for Tennessee but the protection and run block hasn’t been all that.
Wait until the Vols offensive line has to go up against Florida’s defensive line. That won’t be fun. And also let’s not forget about special teams. Florida is way better in that phase of the game and could also change this game from covering the spread to not covering.
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