#23 Tennessee plays host to the #18 Florida Gators on Saturday in a tone setting matchup within the SEC East.
The Vols will try to stay perfect as they enter the Top 25 poll this week for the first time since 2008. With victories over Georgia State this past week and North Carolina State in Atlanta, Tennessee begins their SEC slate against a Gator team who is using momentum as their catalyst.
Florida, fresh off their first SEC victory against the newly acquired Texas A&M Aggies in College Station, inked a win with late game adjustments on Saturday. Sophomore quarterback Jeff Driskel stepped up in the second half, completing thirteen of sixteen passes for 162 yards on the day. Capitalizing on seventeen unanswered points, Florida shut the Aggies out in the third and fourth quarter taking the game 20-17.
While Florida is striving to keep the score low, the Vols want get up and down the field creating a high tempo shootout.
“Well they’re going to want it slow and we’re going to want it fast, it’s no different than it was last week,” Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley said. “In the first half Texas A&M did a good job and in the second half Florida annihilated them.”
One weapon that holds the key to that fast tempo offense is Tennessee quarterback Tyler Bray. The Vols are ninth in the country throwing the football with an average of 353.5 passing yards through two games. Florida head coach Will Muschamp knows that the main area of concern will be the passing game of Tennessee.
“The guy has got great arm strength and he can make all of the throws," Muschamp said. "He’s got great touch on the ball and rapport with his receivers, with back shoulder fades.”
Muschamp understands Bray’s physical ability but respecting his mental football decisions may be the deciding factor in leaving Knoxville with a win.
“He throws the ball into tight coverages so it’s not like he’s throwing it into zone all of the time. He’s throwing the ball against man to man and pattern match coverages,” Muschamp said. “He’s put up very impressive numbers when he’s been healthy.”
The last time Tennessee defeated Florida was in 2004 and ESPN’s College Gameday has chosen Knoxville as their destination this week to amplify this marquee matchup even more. Kickoff is set for 5pm CT on ESPN.
-Photo courtesy of Bleacher Report