Published September 15, 2011 - 6:25am
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Year after year, the winner of the Florida-Tennessee game is usually whoever wins the rushing game. That has played out true, for the most part, over the course of their history, but could this year be different?
Florida’s Running Game Plan
Florida will try to establish the run because they are not exactly that potent with John Brantley in the passing game. While Brantley has been serviceable and much improved, I’m not sure Florida can win a shootout with Brantley at quarterback. So, Florida will try and pound the football.
Last week, Florida racked up 300 yards on the ground on 55 attempts, averaging 5.45 yards per carry. Florida will lean on running backs Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps, Trey Burton and Mike Gillislee, with Rainey and Demps probably getting the most touches. Florida will run a traditional I-formation, but they will also mix in the wildcat with Burton and Rainey in the backfield. This could be the red zone go-to formation if Florida cannot line up and run it right at Tennessee, as Florida struggled in the red zone last week.
Florida will run for two reasons: 1. To set up the pass 2. To keep Tennessee’s offense off the field. If Florida wants to win this game, the ground game will have to be dominant. Then, Weis can mix in play action and make it easier on Brantley in the passing game.
Tennessee’s Running Game Plan
While Tennessee has traditionally been a run-first program featuring a dominant running back, this Tennessee team looks to be different. I think Tennessee will come out in a pass-first mentality, to eventually set up the run through power plays and draws. The Vols will also call running back screens as a way to negate the Florida pressure.
Tennessee will feature Tauren Poole, Marlin Lane and Rajion Neal in the running game, but both Lane and Neal put the ball on the ground last week and both were lost fumbles. Look for Poole to be the primary back for Tennessee, and if he can run for 100 yards on the ground, Tennessee has a great shot.
Tennessee knows if they can jump on top first, Florida will have to play catch-up in the passing game, and they simply are not built for that – or they haven’t shown the ability thus far to play that type of game.
I have a feeling, after this game, the winner will have the better rushing stats, just like every year. Both teams are different in what they will try and do. In all likelihood, Florida will run to set up the pass, while Tennessee will pass to set up the run.
I simply cannot wait for this showdown.