Gameday Headquarters: Florida @ Tennessee

The Gators are trying to maintain status quo in the series with Tennessee

Florida Gators (2-1, 1-1) @ Tennessee Volunteers (2-2, 0-1)
Saturday October 4, 2014; 12:00 Noon ET
Neyland Stadium, Knoxville, Tennessee
TV: SEC Network

Nine in a row and 22 of the last 28 games between the Tennessee Volunteers and the Florida Gators have ended in a victory for the boys in orange and blue. The Gators have simply dominated the series in recent memory, but none of that seems to matter this year… or does it?

Gator fans aren’t feeling very good about their team this year. Fresh off of a 4-8 season, Florida has looked ugly on offense and defense so far in 2014. They have had their moments on both sides of the ball, but in the last two games there were far too many moments that weren’t worth remembering.

The Gators have their issues to fix. On offense it starts with the passing game. They need more consistency from junior quarterback Jeff Driskel with maybe a little bit of freshman Treon Harris thrown in. But, they also have to get more consistent play from the pass catchers. Too many dropped passes and wrong routes that have impacted the play on the field. These two things have to get better.

On defense it is also about the passing game. The Gators have to play better pass defense on the back end and have to get more of a pass rush. In the secondary, they simply have to play smarter and quit making the mental mistakes that have led to big plays. They also made an adjustment this week to cover the slot position. Brian Poole’s move to NICKEL should help both with the confusion they have had and in covering the quick slot player the gators will face like Tennessee’s Pig Howard. Leon Orr is out at defensive tackle and the big move will come with Jonathan Bullard inside to provide more pass rush. Look for linebacker Neiron Ball to also be a factor in rushing the passer.

The bottom line for Florida to win is for those two areas of the team to improve in this game. That is to be determined, and the big worry would be the Vols passing game as it does post a big threat. But, Florida looks to hold a decided advantage on the lines of scrimmage. Unlike at Alabama where nobody will hold a big advantage, this one does look the case heading into it and the Gators did play pretty well on both lines of scrimmage against a very talented Crimson Tide team.

Given that Florida fixes the big issues that have allowed the busted plays on defense, they will force the Vols to make long drives to score and that is where Florida having a plus eight turnover margin (almost three a game) comes in.

The offense will likely lean on the running game. We know that. Of most importance is to stay away from long down and distance situations. This should help with the turnovers as well. For all the dynamic passing Gators have wanted from the offense this year, this will likely be a game it won’t make sense to use.

The odds makers set the odds slightly in favor of Florida to start the week. The public moved that line 4 points as the week progressed and now the Gators are three-point underdogs. I think that is fair given the way the two teams have looked so far this year, but I think Florida plays this one close to the vest and pays off against a very young Tennessee team. I don’t think Florida is 10-point favorites, but I am taking the Gators 27-17 in this one.

Below find everything you need about this matchup and all of our work for the week on this game…

Five's for the Vols
Video: "I don't think he can hang with us"
Hollywood Bob's Midday Matinee 1/3
Thoughts of the Day Oct. 3
Gators' coordinator notebook

Podcast: Gators and More with James Bates
Garcia says Gators ignoring the streak
Thoughts of the day Oct 2
Questions for the enemy; Florida-Tennessee
Rapid recap: Tennessee Week
Jones sees room to run in UT defense

Durkin simplifying the secondary
Gators injury report
Thoughts of the day Oct 1
The Next Six
Gators getting things straight Roper confident in Driskel

Searching for best OL group
Thoughts of the day Sept. 30
Podcast: Gators and More Sept 29
Tennessee offense has Florida's attention
Driskel ignoring the criticism
Thoughts of the day Sept 29
Preparing for Tennesee
It has to be now for Muschamp


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