Tennessee Poses Challenges for UF Defense

The Florida secondary is in for its biggest challenge to date this weekend. After back-to-back weeks against offenses that featured the quick pass, the Gators will face a Tennessee offense that likes to throw the ball down the field. The defensive line will have its chance to provide pressure against a pro-style offense while the secondary will go up against an elite group of wide receivers.

"Very explosive offensively," Will Muschamp said Monday morning. "They're going to more of a no-huddle tempo. It was hurry up at times, and they'll look back at times as well. Tyler Bray is a guy that's very accurate with the football, can make all the throws. You turn on the tape and he's got touch on the ball, he can throw the ball down the field, he can throw it on a line, but he makes all the throws.

"(Justin) Hunter and (Cordarrelle) Patterson are outstanding at wideout. Two explosive guys that can stretch the field vertically. They've got really good ball skills down the field. They can make all the plays."

Hunter and Patterson are an electric duo at receiver

Bray's big arm is the focal point of the offense. The 6-6, 215-pound junior has been an important part of the Tennessee offense since 2010 when he was a freshman. In seven games last season, Bray completed 59.5% (147-247) of his passes for 1,983 yards, 17 touchdowns and six interceptions.

In wins over North Carolina State and Georgia State to start the season, Bray has completed 73.8% of his passes (45-61) for 643 yards, six touchdowns and no interceptions. He makes the offense go and is considered a highly regarded quarterback for the 2013 NFL Draft.

"The guy's got great arm strength. He can make all the throws. That's the thing that really jumps out at you, as far as some of the vertical throws down the field and they get there in a hurry. He's got a good rapport with his receivers with some of the back shoulder fades and things they throw. He throws the ball into tight coverages.

"It's not like he's throwing against zone all the time. He's throwing the ball against man to man in pattern-match coverages. Those are the things to me. He's put up very impressive numbers when he's been healthy."

The questions for Tennessee come on the defensive side of the ball. The Volunteers are going through first year under new defensive coordinator Sal Sunseri. Muschamp expects Tennessee to switch between three and four-man fronts, but there's one characteristics that is consistent on film.

"They've been very aggressive in the first two ball games and I think they've forced five interceptions," Muschamp said. "They've done a nice job of getting the ball back to their offense.

MESHING WITH PEASE: Muschamp's interest in hiring Brent Pease as offensive coordinator in the offseason came from their similar interest on offense. It made Pease's transition to Gainesville an easy one.

"The number one thing is just philosophically being on the same page and being compatible in working with someone who is willing to do things to be successful," Muschamp said. "I've been in this league for a long time, not necessarily as a head coach, but I do know what it takes to be successful in this league."

For Muschamp, being successful in the SEC means a balanced offense. The Gators didn't have that against Bowling Green in the first week of the season, as they focused on the running game to have it prepared for week two. It showed against Texas A&M. The Gators ran the ball well and used play action passes to open up throwing lanes for quarterback Jeff Driskel.

Muschamp was happy with Pease's play calling on Saturday

Saturday's offense was is only the beginning for what Muschamp wants at Florida, but he has a coordinator that sees what he wants and knows where the offense is going in the future.

"Is it where we want it to be right now? No, but we're headed the right direction," Muschamp said. "I see a lot of positive movement from last year to this year of where we are. That's what I need to see—progress. That's all I look for in everything in our organization. Progress. I see a lot of positive progress in that unit from where we were a year ago.

"I think a lot of that has to do with maturity, it has to do with experience. Tim Davis has done an outstanding job with our offensive line. But, again, you've got to recruit well, you've got recruit to what you want, and where you want to go with the thing. I think all those things combined, I've seen progress."

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