The Vols are led by quarterback Casey Clausen who really started coming into his own in the second half of last season .He is 19-3 as a starter and like many Vol quarterbacks, he is a great thrower of the "deep ball". Tony Brown out of Ft. Lauderdale (Fla.) St.Thomas Aquinas high school has been his favorite target so far with 15 catches, but that has been because All-American candidate Kelley Washington has been injured .Montrell Jones is another receiver to keep your eye on. The Vol rushing attack is led by Cedric Houston, a sophomore who has 180 yards in two games, and he is rotated with Jabari Davis and Keldrick Williams. Tight end Jason Witten is an All-SEC guy who Tennessee tried to get involved a lot in the last meeting. The Volunteers up front are solid led by captain and right tackle Will Ofenheusle.
The Vols are and "I"formation team with base personnel. They have shown in the past and even in the first two games to get in the shotgun and spread it out, but this is their favorite formation. Their favorite run play is the "Lead" or "Iso" and they run it strong and weak. This puts a premium on gap responsibility for defensive lineman and one on one blocking with the fullback on the linebacker playside. Tennessee uses more zone blocking techniques at the point of attack than Miami. The Vols like to throw short on first down to the tight end or the splint end on a shallow cross. They play the down and distance as well as anyone. This sets up their play action package, which they have not shown much of in the first two games to throw it over the top to Washington. It is a balance attack that lends itself to long touchdown drives. Don't be surprised to see the "wham g" play early that Miami had success with.
What to expect:
This game calls for man coverage and "8 in the box " type mentality. Because Tennessee zone blocks so much the movement of guys around in Thompson's defense does not cause them as many problems as other teams. What J.T. needs to do is to overload where he think the play is going. To do this I believe Robert Cromartie and Keiwan Ratliff need to be in man coverage and force Tennessee to throw. Ian Scott must dominate his gap to disrupt the run and then linebackers Bam Hardman, Todd McCollough and Mike Nattiel must read and recognize the run and take on blocks to disrupt any holes being created. Tennessee will hit some big plays over the middle and deep because this is a high risk reward defensive scheme, but Florida will be able to get pressure and hopefully cause some turnovers. One other key is speed rusher from the end position. The Vols passing scheme has always had trouble protecting the "edge" with their pass blocking and this could be a big day for Marcus Oquendo-Johnson, Clint Mitchell and Bobby McCray if the Gators can control the run somewhat.
Big Game Gators:
Ian Scott, Keiwan Ratliff, Bam Hardman, the defensive ends.
The Volunteers have lost their best pass rusher in Constatin Riztman and their best linebacker in Kevin Burnett. But frosh Kevin Simon has emerged as the leading tackler from his weakside linebacker spot with 16 tackles in two games. The only points the Vol defense has given up has been in the 4th quarter which they lead the country in scoring defense at 5 points per game given up. They are real good on third down allowing only 20% conversion because of a veteran secondary led by free safety Rashad Baker and corner Jabari Greer. Up Front they are led by NFL prospect Rashad Moore at defensive tackle and Omari Hand at defensive end, both are seniors. Last year Tennessee allowed the Gators to pass the ball in the intermediate zone not giving up the long ones and not allowing Florida to run the ball. Tennessee likes to rotate all four of their defensive tackles throughout the game.
The Vols are a 4-3 team that will play cover 2 and 3. They have tried everything with no success against the Gators in the past so it will be interesting to see if they stay in base early. One thing that has always work for the Vols is creeping the linebackers up and running blitzes with them in exchange with defensive line twists. They will bring "Mike linebacker" Keyon Whiteside and "will linebacker" freshman Kevin Simon. Because their linebackers who are quickly developing into the strength of the defense are so quick, they like the strong safety blitz off the edge with Julian Battle and occasionally into the boundary they like the "corner fire" blitz with Jabari Greer. The front four will run a lot of "games" with twist and so forth, especially since Florida has been not real good at recognizing them so far with the young o-line. Last season Tennessee blitzed but played zone behind it forcing the Gators to eat up clock and kick field goals.
What to expect:
Florida will try to run the ball and I expect Ran Carthon could see some action early. Florida will move Taylor Jacobs around to try to get him more throws versus the zone defense. Also the fullback could be a big factor this week in protection up the middle against the blitz. One other blitz stopper for Rex Grossman is the use of the tight ends and a play called "Y-Delay" where Aaron Walker and Ben Troupe look as it they are blocking then release to the vacated linebacker spot for the quick throw. Florida will run it's no huddle offense and try to run the ball out of it. The shotgun will be a big factor in working against the rush. If Tennessee plays what they have shown on film Florida will get the ball down the field to Jacobs. If not look for the tight ends and Carlos Perez in the middle of the field.
Big Game Gators:
Earnest Graham and Ran Carthon, Carlos Perez, Ben Troupe and Rex Grossman.
Tennessee is solid in the coverage area for special teams. Alex Walls is a perfect 4-4 and has a strong enough leg to make one past 50. Dustin Colquitt is the punter and has a strong leg as well averaging 43 yards per punt. Rashad Baker is the punt returner and does not like to fair catch averaging 12 yards a return .Leonard Scott is still a kick returner, yet #23 Corey Larkins may be a game breaker in that area. Florida who has struggled in the kickoff return area needs some good ones against a very tough unit. I think the Gators will have some tricks up their sleeves in the special teams area. Maybe a fake punt and or an onside kick after a scoring drive.
How will it play out?
Florida needs to score early and protect field position. Whoever wins the lines of scrimmage will win the game. Tennessee's are good but they are not Miami and I don't think UF is intimidated by the Vols whatsoever. I think it could turn into a passing shootout, which would benefit Florida. Certainly the Gators are going to force Tennessee to throw and vice versa. Rex will have his first big game. The road team has won the last two in the series. Make it three… Gators 31-30.