The Florida Gators (2-1) are looking to rebound from their frustratingly close loss to Alabama as they host the Tennessee Volunteers (2-1) in Gainesville. Here are the three keys to a Gator victory.
By Steve Wright
1 – Stop the run
Making Tennessee one-dimensional will be a big key to this game. Their running attack is based around dual-threats at quarterback in Hendon Hooker and Joe Milton III, but their running backs have been somewhere between average and bad. The backs are averaging right at three yards per carry over the last two games and now Florida’s ace rushing defense that ranks 26th in the country at just 92.7 yards per game should be able to limit that even more. If the Gators stop the quarterback run then it will be a long day for the Vols.
2 – Who is the quarterback?
Last week – presumably for one week only – we all knew that Emory Jones was going to be the guy at the quarterback position for the Gators. The only reason for this, however, was that backup Anthony Richardson was out injured. Against the Vols, Richardson will be back and the fans will be expected to see Dan Mullen use both of his quarterbacks in the right spots to get a win. The actual health or Richardson is still a slight question mark, but the irony here is that Tennessee will also use at least two quarterbacks on the day as they have issues of their own with Milton and Hooker.
3 – Run the ball
Tennessee is fifth in the FBS in run defense allowing just 54.3 yards per game. That looks great until you realize that neither Bowling Green or Tennessee Tech were going to do anything of note on the ground. The Gators, on the other hand, are going to want to run the ball right at Tennessee with the No. 2 ranked run game in the country that averages a monster 335 yards per game. Jones, Richardson and running back Malik Davis all have over 200 yards on the ground and two touchdowns each this season, while Dameon Pierce has five rushing scores. This is where Florida wins the game as it blows the doors off of Tennessee.