The Vols are back and playing Saturday as they face the #6 Florida Gators in Neyland Stadium. This will be the Vols first game since Auburn on November 21st.
Tennessee is currently 2-5 and on a 5 game losing streak. All 5 of those losses are by 10+ more points, which is the first time in program history.
The Vols was supposed to play Vanderbilt last week but was postponed due to Covid and was moved to December 12th.
Tennessee has up to 10 starters out due to contact tracing at the moment, including a quarterback.
Jeremy Pruitt said Monday that those players would not practice but maybe available come Saturday. This will be the Vols’ first home game in 42 days; the last home game was against Alabama on October 24th.
Dan Mullen has the Florida Gators rolling as they are currently the 6th best team in the country in the most recent CFP rankings. Florida is currently 6-1 and coming off a 34-10 win over Kentucky.
The game will kickoff at 3:30 pm and will be televised on CBS. Tennessee currently has a 3 game losing streak against the Florida Gators. In those 3 games, the Vols have averaged to lose to the Gators by 21 points.
Under Pruitt, Vols have averaged a 28 point loss against Dan Mullen and Florida. For Tennessee break that trend and pull off one of the biggest upsets of the season, here is what they must do:
Stop Florida’s High Scoring Offense
The biggest task Tennessee’s defense will have come Saturday is to stop QB Kyle Trask. Kyle Trask is the current frontrunner for the Heisman Trophy. Trask has been having an unbelievable season so far, throwing 2,810 yards and 34 TDs and 3 INTs. His last performance saw him go 21-27 with 256 yards and 3 TDs.
Trask has not thrown an interception since the Gators win over Georgia on November 7th.
Trask has also thrown for at least 3 TDs in every game this season. This is easily the best quarterback Tennessee has faced all season. Tennessee will have to find a way to be able to put pressure on Kyle Trask.
This will be even a tougher task for the Vols with the dismissal of DL Kivon Bennett, who led the Vols in TFLs and Sacks this season.
This means guys like Deandre Johnson and Darrell Middleton will need to step up big time and put some pressure on the Heisman frontrunner.
But Kyle Trask is not the only player the Vols defense will need to worry about.
Tennessee will also need to stop TE Kyle Pitts as well. Pitts has been the best wideout for the Gators, racking up 29 receptions for 513 receiving yards and leads the team in receiving TDs with 11.
Kadarius Toney is another weapon Florida has on offense. Toney leads the Gators in receiving yards with 541 yards and has 7 TDs. The most impressive stat about this Florida offense is that every WR, TE, and RB that have a reception this year averaged over 10 yards a catch.
That is insane.
This Florida offense ranks 12th in Total offense averaging 511.7 yards a game, and 7th in Scoring Offense 45.8 ppg. This statistically the 2nd best offense the Vols will have faced this season next to Alabama. Tennessee’s secondary will have its hands full come Saturday and will need Bryce Thompson and Alontae Taylor to have career-best performances.
The entire Tennessee defense will need to have their season-best performances come Saturday. If Tennessee can’t put pressure on Kyle Trask, Vols will have no chance to beat Florida on Saturday.
Take Advantage Of Florida’s Mediocre Defense
Todd Grantham’s defense has been the weakest link for the Gators all season.
Florida is middle of the road in various defense categories:
- Total Defense: 62nd (allow 411.3 ypg)
- Rushing Defense: 53rd (allowed 150.8 rushing yards)
- 3rd Down Conversion: 79th (42%)
- Scoring Defense: 67th (allow 30 ppg)
- Team Passing Efficiency Defense: 77th (142.10)
In other words, Tennessee should have no problem with moving football come Saturday.
Tennessee had a great performance offensively in their last game against Auburn, having 464 yards of total offense.
Eric Gray had his best performance of the season, rushing for 173 yards and 1 TD.
It would be great for the Vols if Eric Gray a have another big game Saturday.
Auburn’s defense is statistically better than Florida’s :
- Total Defense: 50th
- Rushing Defense: 56th
- 3rd Down Conversion: 117th (52%)
- Scoring Defense: 30th (allow 22.8 ppg)
- Team Passing Efficiency Defense: 54th (132.51)
If the Vols could put up those numbers against Auburn, it is not crazy to think they could put up similar or even better numbers against Florida. Tennessee will likely start Freshman Harrison Bailey at Quarterback on Saturday.
Bailey came in the game in the 4th quarter, drove the Vols down the field, and scored 6 points on his first drive. Bailey completed 70% of his passes for 86 yards.
While Jarrett Guarantano ended the game with more passing yards, it was clear that the offense looked much better with Bailey under center. Vol fans everywhere can finally take a deep breath as we will finally see a new QB on Saturday. Tennessee will get plenty of opportunities to score points on this Florida defense.
If Eric Gray can have another big game on the ground and Harrison Bailey can complete crucial 3rd down throws, This will give the Vols a much better chance of pulling off the upset on Saturday.
Pruitt MUST Make 2nd Half Adjustments
The Vols have struggled with most of the season, the failure to make adjustments in the 2nd half. Tennessee has been absolute garbage in the 2nd half during this 5 game losing streak.
In the last 5 games, Tennessee has been outscored 108-14 in the 2nd half.
No, that is not a typo.
There’s no sugarcoating it; that is terrible. Pruitt must allow Jim Chaney to be able to call the shots and plays on Saturday.
With the exception of the Auburn game, this offense has been far too predictable in the 2nd half. In the first possession in the 2nd half of the Auburn game, Chaney knew the risk of throwing the ball and decided to pound the rock instead.
Vols were able to cruise down the field thanks to Eric Gray, who picked up 49 yards on 5 carries and drove down to the red zone.
For some reason, Jeremy Pruitt decided on 2nd and 7 on Auburn 12 yard line to throw the football. Chaney called a pass play, and what happened next was about as predictable as it gets. Jarrett Guarantano threw a 100-yard pick-six.
Pruitt has to allow Chaney to make the play calls Saturday for the full 60 minutes.
Florida’s defense is mediocre, but they will make adjustments and take advantage of the Vols if they do not.
Tennessee has a tall order on pulling off the upset and defeating the #6 Florida Gators on Saturday.
The Vols will have to play a perfect game to get the win.
But if there are no 2nd half adjustments, you might as well kiss those chances goodbye.