FIVE THINGS WE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT Tennessee
Exceptional offensive skill talent… Tennessee comes in with really great talent at the offensive skill positions. Quarterback Justin Worley has already thrown for 985 yards, nine touchdowns and only three interceptions in four games. They have three receivers in the top 15 in the conference in receiving. Freshman running back Jalen Hurd has come on strong and is a load.
The punting differential… Tennessee punter is ranked 13th in the conference having punted 30 times for a 39.2 yard average. Florida’s Kyle Christy is first at 50.4 yards. That is 10 yards a punt differential and could play a big factor in flipping the field or keeping the field turned in the Gators favor.
The new line…The Volunteers have had to replace every single offensive lineman from a year ago. They even lost their starting left tackle during the first game, a walk-on senior that earned a scholarship. For all of their offensive skill prowess, they have a very talented offensive line that is having a ton of growing pains and has their offense ranked 13th on the conference.
3rd down conversions on defense… The Vols lead the country in 3rd down conversion defense allowing teams to convert 3rd downs at a 20.8% rate. The Gators are last in the SEC allowing teams to convert 3rd downs at a colossal 45.7% rate. This is about as ugly a matchup as you can get and has to change on Saturday.
Flags or no flags… Tennessee is tops in the SEC in only chalking up 16 total penalties in four games and a very low 28.2 penalty yards per game. Meanwhile the Gators are last in the SEC posting 71.3 yards in penalties per contest.
FIVE THINGS I WANT TO SEE
Run the ball… Although Florida does want to pass the ball more this year, this is a game where the running game needs to step up and make a big difference. The Gators are middle of the road in the SEC averaging 201 yards per game on the ground. The Vols are last getting just 126.8 yards a game on the ground, but the matchup against the Vol defense is the one to watch as the Volunteers are also last in the conference against the run giving up 169 yards on the ground per game. The Gators can control a lot of things if they run well on Saturday.
Some pass on first… I really expect Florida to lean on that run game, but they can’t forget to change it up and keep Tennessee honest on first down by passing some on first down. It isn’t like this has been an issue for Florida, but again we expect them to try and run and they just don’t need to lean too hard on first down running the ball.
Get some play makers in the slot position... Both of Demarcus Robinson’s touchdowns against Kentucky came when he lined up in the slot position. Valdez Showers also scored from the slot position against Alabama. Just like the Gators are having trouble defending that spot on the field, defenses are having trouble guarding that spot from the Gators. There is a reason they want to line Brandon Powell up there and do it soon. He’s out, but they need to make it a priority on Saturday.
Get to the red zone… There are some things going in Florida’s favor that add up to the Gators getting decent field position. Turnover margin, punt differential and the difference it creates over the duration of the game, are just a couple. Florida is second in the conference in converting scores in the red zone, up a great deal from last year because of how many field goals Florida missed. But, Florida needs to take better advantage in that area and put the ball in the end zone. Tennessee is last in the conference as teams have scored every time in the red zone going nine for nine. They have given up seven touchdowns with teams’ nine trips inside the 20.
Don’t give up the long ball… The downfall of the defense has been giving up the busted play or just plain getting beat deep. The Gators have only given up four touchdowns from inside the 20 on seven tries. If they drop the busted long ball plays, they are much more likely to succeed.
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