Rapid reaction: Tennessee comes alive in second half to snap streak against Florida
It was a tale of two halves, and this time the Gators were the team who melted down after jumping out to a big lead.
Down 21-0 and 21-3 at the break, Tennessee came alive in the second half and dominated on both sides of the ball, putting 38 straight points to help notch a 38-28 victory that got 11-year old monkey off its back.
UT coach Butch Jones gets his signature win in a big, big way after Josh Dobbs threw for a career-high 319 yards and four touchdowns. Dobbs added 80 yards rushing and a touchdown.
What it means: UT is now in the driver’s seat in the SEC East race, especially in light of Georgia’s 45-14 loss at Ole Miss. If the Vols can finally beat Florida, they have to feel that they can beat anybody.
What I liked:
Tennessee: The Vols were down 21-0 and didn’t quit, not letting Florida get in their heads. They drove for a field goal before the end of the half to get a little positive momentum.
Tennessee’s defense stepped up big in the third quarter with a trio of three-and-outs. Dobbs got into a rhythm passing in the third quarter too, going 7-of-9 for 126 yards and two touchdowns (and one pick).
Once the Vols got rolling, they kept their foot on the gas. Up 24-21, Dobbs and company put the Gators on the ropes with a 42-yard strike to Josh Malone to make it 31-21. Dobbs put the icing on the cake with a 5-yard run that made it 38-21.
Florida: Jim McElwain showed great confidence in his backup quarterback, Austin Appleby by calling for a bomb on UF’s opening drive. Appleby hit Callaway for a 51-yard play and ended the drive with a touchdown pass to TE DeAndre Goolsby.
Offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier called a good first two quarters, mixing up the run and the pass.
After two unimpressive runs by RB Mark Thompson deep in Tennessee territory, RB Jordan Scarlett was called on to finish the job. Scarlett’s not as big as Thompson (5-foot-10, 213 pounds vs. 6-foot-2, 237 pounds), but he’s shown himself to be a harder runner, especially against contact. Scarlett powered it in from a yard out.
The Florida offense remembered how to find the end zone in the fourth quarter, with Appleby hitting WR Freddie Swain for a touchdown to cut it to 38-28.
What I didn’t like
Florida: UF wanted to control the clock in the second half, but the running game was shut down and the offensive line was dominated by Tennessee’s defensive line. It led to five consecutive three-and-outs, which allowed Tennessee to comeback and eventually put the game out of reach.
And then the defense seemingly took the second half off, allowing four touchdown passes and another one to Dobbs on the ground.
On Tennessee’s go-ahead touchdown, it was none other than CB Teez Tabor who got burned by Jauan Jennings. Tabor did a lot of talking guaranteeing a win over the Vols. He didn’t back it up when it mattered the most, the second half.
Tennessee: The Vols had a golden opportunity when Callaway muffed the punt inside his own 5-yard line, but couldn’t score, turning the ball over on downs. Offensive coordinator called two passes and two runs, one has to wonder if running Dobbs and Hurd four times wouldn’t have got the ball across the goal line.
Who’s the man: Dobbs had a rough first half passing (7-of-20, 84 yards, INT), but came up big in the second half. As the face of Tennessee football the last two seasons, this win is extra special for him.
Key play: Tennessee had the ball 1st-and-10 on its own 33-yard line when it called a passing play. Tabor fell, and that left Jauan Jennings wide open. Jennings bobbled it for a bit, but pulled it in and ran down the sideline for Tennessee’s go-ahead score. With the lead, the Vols knew all they had to was close it out at home.
What’s next: Tennessee takes on a Georgia team desperate to bounce back from a blowout loss against Ole Miss. Florida returns to the Volunteer State hoping to bounce back against Vanderbilt in Nashville.