Gators vs. Tennessee Wrap-Up

Inside we look at how the Gators peformed on an overall level, on offense, defense, and special teams. The big win could set the tone for another big year in Gainesville.

In 4:55, Ron Zook and the Florida Gators answered every question, extinguished all doubts... and washed the Tennessee Volunteers into bowels of Neyland Stadium 30-13. It was a five minute span that changes the complexion of the season and restores hopes of bigger goals. Ron Zook was asked if he had seen anything like it and he smiled and said "yes, the St.Louis Rams". Well, today the Gator QB played even better than Kurt Warner. Rex Grossman showed tremendous heart and willed his offense into the endzone and earned his Heisman respect back after his seemed to go by the wayside. Florida had to hold their own at the line of scrimmage and they did one better.....they won it. Zook gave a riveting pre-game speech that had "HIS TEAM" ready to jump in the Tennessee River if he asked them to. It was one of those games that was just special to be there because you sensed you were witnessing something special. It rained all day in Knoxville but you could hardly tell when Florida had the ball.

Three questions were answered in Rocky Top and with the 30-13 win Florida and it's new coach returned back to the top of the SEC East. The defense which gave up 300 yards rushing to Miami held the Vols to 99 yards. The offensive line played as one cohesive unit which battled and eventually wore down a good Vol front. Finally the special teams not only recovered a fumble on the kickoff but Matt Leach delivered a dagger to Tennessee with a 42 yard field goal at the end of the first half.

Offensively it started out rough, as Tennessee's defense was very good. But as the conditions got tougher and so did Rex Grossman, as he willed his team to first downs and eventually touchdowns. It began with the long pass to Taylor Jacobs followed by the controversial Earnest Graham touchdown with 4:55 left in the first half. The rest of the onslaught is Gator History and so are the Vols. Jacobs had a big time game while "the second receivers Carlos Perez, Kelvin Kight, Aaron Walker, Vernell Brown and even Ingle Martin all contributed. When Graham suffered a slight ankle sprain Ran Carthon stepped up and played huge. It was not pretty and smooth at times, but Ed Zaunbreaker's offense just went for over 400 yards on the road in Rocky Top.

Defensively, it was the game plan for all game plans and the incredible play and effort of Clint Mitchell as he strips the ball from Troy Fleming speaks volumes for John Thompson and the fight in his defense. They rallied up to the line of scrimmage and stuffed the run forcing Cedric Houston out of the game early with a bruised thigh. But they bruised more than Houston's thigh by challenging Casey Clausen to throw by playing him man to man most of the day. Robert Cromartie played outstanding, drawing Kelly Washington most of the day. The switch of Bam Hardman to middle linebacker may be the best move ever by the Florida staff. "Bam" showed his value on the first running play for Tennessee by blowing up the counter throwing his body into the pulling offensive lineman and allowing his defenders to make the play for no gain. This was a team effort in which Florida's defensive line showed it was the tougher of the two units and Florida under Ron Zook is no longer a "finesse"team and now a more physical.

Finally, this was a huge game for Ron Zook and his players, but as equally important for the Gator nation. After four games, Florida is right where people are accustomed to seeing them on top of the SEC East, in the top ten and defeating the Volunteers in Rocky Top. All thanks to 4:55 of memorable football in Gator History administered by their new "Evil Genuis" ,the enthusiastic and gutty Ron Zook.

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