Rocky Top Meets Rocky Bottom This Weekend

This picture was taken at the South Carolina-F...

This picture was taken at the South Carolina-Florida game on November 11, 2006 by Randall Stewart. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A new look Vols this weekend, Gator Nation.

We’re rested from our Bye Week and Tennessee is fresh off a thumping at Oregon. We have QB questions and they have QB questions. Both coaches want their QB’s making better decisions. We’re both coming off losses to the only real team either have played so far. We’re both starting the SEC schedule this week. We both run the ball predominantly. We’re at home. They are not. We’ve won eight straight games against them. They haven’t. Time to make it nine. Let’s talk some football…

Tennessee played Oregon at Oregon and got smacked. Many of us in the Gator Nation and sitting here thinking….well, this game should be easy this weekend. Let me just say that Oregon is going to beat most of their competition the same as they beat the Volunteers last weekend. It is not an anomaly and it is not a forebearer to our game this weekend. Tennessee has hit “Rocky Bottom”, but the fact remains they can run the ball and have shown a penchant for forcing turnovers—something that should be a primary concern for us. UT has hinted that the QB competition is wide open this week. Their QB, Justin Worley, has not been impressive, but he’s the guy who has been taking most of the snaps since last year. He’s playing. If he ends up making the field stink because of his play, THEN we may see another guy. Right now, I think the QB issue is all talk. The Vols simply will not walk into The Swamp and start a freshman QB in his first game ever. If they do…then this will probably be a wild game for one team…probably not us either. The Vols coach, Butch Jones, is fresh from his head coaching gig in Cincinnati and has his hands full trying to get Tennessee back to the elite status they enjoyed for the better part of the 90’s and mid-2000’s. He’s got recruiting going for him this year, but this team lacks the depth and talent to compete with Top 20 teams (see Oregon again). I can’t see their defense lasting for the entire game, especially if we pound and pound the ball on the ground. I also can’t see them primarily running the ball against our defense, although they have two solid RBs in Rajion Neal and Marlin Lane. They have many of the same issue we do, but it all comes down to the passing game and defense. Their defense will have something to prove this week after Oregon so expect it to be reaonably close. Unfortunately, they don’t have the depth at defense to rely on when the run fails and the passing game can’t keep them close this weekend.

If we avoid a Western Kentucky-like performance (five turnovers in six plays) and limit our turnovers, this game should be ours for the taking. Right now UT does not have the horses to compete with us. My guess—in the wake of the Miami game results—we will run the ball, run the ball, run the ball and then…run the ball some more. It should be a good weekend for Matt Jones and company. Brent Pease has already made public comments that he wants Jeff Driskel to make beter choices in pressure situations. I would argue that maybe we should have better play calling that can use Driskel better in pressure situations. I can’t attribute this comment like I would prefer, but I did read on the blogosphere a great suggestion. Driskel has had moments of excellence and it generally happens when we go uptempo when we are ahead and can still rely on the running game. Excellent idea! How about a series at the end of the first quarter or start of the second quarter where we pick up the pace a bit. Seriously. Haven’t you noticed by now that Muschamp’s method is to plod along, be deliberate, get ahead and run out the clock. Actually, plodding along is too fast compared to what we do. Give Driskel one series to unleash himself. I might as well stop writing about the offense anyway. Once Muschamp gets up by 14 points that may be all we can hope for in terms of point spread. I think that’s just how he is wired and as along as we are winning that is what we can expect. Hard to argue with winning, but you know me, I wouldn’t mind the points either. Or a Kickoff returned for a Gator TD. Just sayin’. I’d expect our defense to be ready and it is quite possible we can keep UT to single digits. We’ve had a week to rest and some time to work on some of our issues in the red zone. It might not be exciting, but we win, they lose. Florida 20 Tennessee 9. Game time is 3:30pm EST, 12:30 PST on CBS. Yes, it’s Gary Danielson and Vern Lundquist calling the game. I know. It’s not even worth commenting. In between my daughter’s soccer games this weekend, I’m joining my local Gator Club where nine straight Victories over Tennessee is best served with Gators! ‘Nuff said.

Go Gators!

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