Well….it looks like I’m eating crow this week.
If you’ll remember I predicted a Tennessee upset over Florida at home under the lights of Neyland. I decided to further my torment by heading up to Knoxville to witness the action myself. The weather was great. The storms never made it to Knoxville, but the cool weather did.
The buzz around the Tennessee campus was intense. Fraternity row was a rowdy crowd as always. Fans were chomping at the bit to get the game going. A night game equates to a long day for those dedicated fans who like to get the ball rolling early in the morning. A handful had to be dragged into the stadium by their honorable but equally intoxicated brethren. Suffice to say the Florida/Tennessee rivalry is as alive as ever.
Things started off ominous enough as the ordinarily sold-out stadium was a couple thousand short. Weather may have played a factor by keeping some folks at home tied to their couches. Boy, did they play it smart?
Vols hosting the Gators
Right out of the gate, Tennessee made critical mistakes that led to 14 easy points for the Gators. Any seasoned Tennessee fan could see the writing on the wall at this point, but everyone powered through hoping for some nighttime magic. The magic would never materialize. The Vols could never get anything going offensively. They made miscue after miscue.
I spoke about Pruitt being a huge proponent of the turnover battle. His squad failed horribly in that facet. They turned the ball over a sickening, six times on Saturday. It’s almost impossible to win a football game if you’re going to gift your opponent the football six times. But it’s even more impossible when you’re playing an SEC rival like Florida.
With that being said this game was a lot closer than it should have been. Florida is a mediocre squad at best. They failed to capitalize on the bulk of Tennessee’s mistakes. If you factor in the number of times Florida started their offensive series in enemy territory, you begin to realize that Tennessee’s defense held their own most of the game.
The Vols controlled the clock which is another Pruitt staple. They didn’t control the line of scrimmage though. The offensive linemen were being blown off the ball the whole game. The running backs had zero holes. The quarterbacks had zero time. Overall, it was one of the worst offensive performances I’ve ever witnessed.
Any bright spots on offense were quickly wiped away by boneheaded mistakes. The Austin Pope fumble out of the back of the end zone will haunt my nightmares for years to come. A beautifully drawn up and executed fourth down play, and bam a turnover at the goal line before the easy score. That play perfectly sums up this team.
It’s just apparently not all there for these guys. They have a long way to go before they are competitive in conference play. Which, unfortunately, means that Tennessee fans will have to weather an unprecedented two-year span before their team wins an SEC game.
So, buckle in Vols fans this is going to be a rocky road on Rocky Top.
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(Photo Courtesy FloridaGators.com)<