Daniel Bituli set to lead Vols' defense into rivalry game vs. Gators: 'We've just got to trust ourselves'
For some players on Tennessee’s roster, Saturday marks not only the first SEC game of their careers, but also their first conference road game. It’s going to be a much more hostile environment than many of them are used to.
Fortunately, the Vols also have some veteran leaders who will help set the tone for Saturday’s trip to Gainesville, Fla., where they’ll play the next edition of the “Third Saturday in September” rivalry against Florida.
That includes senior linebacker Daniel Bituli, who has played against the Gators each of the last three seasons. So, he knows he’ll need to lead the younger players on Tennessee’s defense on Saturday.
“Just staying calm and just using your attributes to go out there and make some plays,” Bituli told the media this week. “With me being in there, I’ll be able to handle setting the front and making all these adjustments. So, just playing within yourself and just focusing on that. We obviously go into the games really prepared with Coach [Jeremy] Pruitt and his coaching staff doing a great job. We’ve just got to trust ourselves and know that we can make those plays.”
Another factor that will be key for Bituli and the Vols’ defense — discipline.
“It’s really important. We’ve got to come in and watch some film as much as we can,” Bituli said. “We know Coach [Dan]Mullen has a history with Coach Pruitt. They’ve been going at it for a couple of years. We’ve got to listen to Coach Pruitt this week on the things that we get during the game. We’ve just got to prepare and gain that confidence that we need.”
The Vols have lost 13 of their last 14 games against the Gators, and they’ve had trouble stopping their offense in recent years. Florida has scored at least 26 points in each of its last four games against Tennessee.