Tennessee turns its focus to Florida
Western Carolina proved to be the perfect remedy for Tennessee to shake off the disappointment of an overtime loss to Oklahoma as the Volunteers blasted the Catamounts, 55-10, last time out.
This week will be far more challenging.
Tennessee travels to Florida on Saturday (3:30 p.m. ET, CBS) for its first SEC game of the season. The Volunteers will be looking to snap a 10-game losing streak to the Gators and avenge a 10-9 loss in Knoxville last year.
“Well, first of all, only 12 individuals on our roster went to Florida (in 2013),” coach Butch Jones said. “(The streak) is for you guys to talk about all week long. What matters is our preparation and becoming a better football team. The challenge that lies ahead of us is playing a really talented football team that is 3-0.
“All we can control is our work ethic, our mindset, our improvement, our preparation and then go execute on Saturday. That is all you can do. Every game is critical. We don’t put more emphasis on one compared to another because you still have so many games left.”
The Gators leaned hard on their defense to win at Kentucky last week, allowing only 241 yards of offense and three field goals.
“What can I say about their defense? I don’t know if there are one or two adjectives that could describe it,” Jones said. “The word that comes to my mind is impressive. Last week, they held a team to eight completions. They are number one or two in every statistical category. They are deep.
“I believe they play 10 on the defensive line. They have the ability to play press-man coverage. They are as good of a defense that we have seen since we have been here. They are active, explosive and get after it. I think that the results speak for themselves.”
If the Florida defense is the immovable object, then Tennessee’s offense would be the unstoppable force.
The Volunteers are averaging 46 points per game and have the most points in three games since 1914. Jalen Hurd and Alvin Kamara are powering a rushing attack that’s putting up almost 250 yards per contest, and Joshua Dobbs has thrown for 474 yards and five scores on the season.
So, what happens when they collide? Tune in Saturday…
FLORIDA GATORS CLOSER LOOK
Top player, offense: Will Grier, QB, R-Fr. — Grier has started the last two games after Treon Harris started the season opener against New Mexico State. The Davidson, N.C., product combines size (6-foot-2, 200 pounds), mobility (114 rushing yards and two scores) and natural ability at the position. He’s thrown for 442 yards and four touchdowns while sharing time with Harris but also has two interceptions on the young season.
Top player, defense: Jonathan Bullard, DT, Sr. — Tough against the run, but also an effective pass rusher. The Shelby, N.C., native had five tackles and two of the Gators’ six sacks against Kentucky last week. He also had five tackles in last year’s game against Tennessee.
Top player, special teams: Antonio Callaway, WR, Fr. — The true freshman from Miami is averaging 16 yards per punt return so far this season. He also has two rushing attempts and four catches in his first college season.