Published September 16, 2011 - 7:19am
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Florida is the favorite heading into this weekend in Gainesville, and this game nationally is a little bit under the radar, but nonetheless very important for the SEC East and the conference overall.
The Swamp will be loud and rocking when the Vols show up this Saturday, but I’m sure Tennessee will be bringing more than their share of fans to Gainesville.
For Tennessee To Win:
1. Protect Tyler Bray: Tennessee’s offensive line has to give Bray protection in the pocket. While I know Bray is good with his footwork both in and out of the pocket, I’m not sure he will be as effective out of the pocket with Florida’s speed on the edges. If this offensive line can negate Florida’s pressure and block well, Bray could be hitting his receivers all day long.
2. Run the football: Tauren Poole has to amass at least 100 yards rushing on the day. Tennessee will mix in Marlin Lane and Rajion Neal, but Poole will be the primary guy. This offense has to create a downhill running game, and I think it can do that by loosening up Florida with the passing game early. I think Poole, not Bray, is the key to this football game for the Vols.
3. Make Brantley beat you: Tennessee knows John Brantley is not Tim Tebow; the Vols also know that in order to beat Florida, they will have to make Brantley beat them through the air. Florida will try to run and run some more on the Tennessee team to keep their offense off the field and eat clock. Tennessee has to feel good if this game becomes a shootout, or if the game is on the line and the ball is John Brantley’s hands.
For Florida To Win:
1. Wreak havoc in the backfield: Florida has to get pressure with their front four primary rushers before bringing any kind of blitzes. Dominique Easley, Sharrif Floyd and company have to live in the backfield in this game and not give Bray any time to throw the football. Will Bray beat you sometimes? Yes, because he is that good and the talent around him is even better. But if Florida can rattle Bray early and disrupt timing of passing plays, they have a very good shot to minimize the amount of scoring Tennessee can do.
2. Run the football: Florida has to run the football with Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey, Trey Burton and Mike Gillislee all day on this Tennessee defense. If Florida’s offensive line can control the point of contact, it will be the biggest key to Florida’s victory. By winning the point of contact, Florida will be able to run the football, ultimately taking pressure off of the passing game and John Brantley.
3. Special teams’ play: Florida has some dynamic return men on special teams in Jeff Demps, Chris Rainey and Andre Debose. Rainey will field punts, while Debose and Demps will likely return kick offs. Florida will have to have a big day on special teams for field position and ultimately for putting points on the board. Tennessee’s punters have struggled this year, and Florida will have to take advantage of this aspect of the football game.