Scouting Tennessee Offense

It's a simple fact that this rivalry has lost just a bit due to four straight Florida wins including two straight blowouts (59-20, 30-6). Of course it's also a simple fact that those two scores are a tad misleading. It was a 28-20 game in the third quarter and Tennessee had the ball in 2007 before it got out of hand.

Last year the Vols actually out gained the Gators but lost in large part due to a punt return TD by Brandon James and Florida enjoying a plus-three turnover differential.

This week the Vols are unranked and a 29-point underdog and that doesn't seem right. Then again the Vols were an 18-point underdog eight years ago when they came into Gainesville and denied the Gators another SEC East title. It also doesn't seem right to see a guy who looks like he should be in high school as the head coach, but what do I know. Well I know this; the guy I call "The Half Monte" will find out if his team can cash the checks his mouth wrote in the off-season.

The Vols are led by senior Jonathan Crompton who like most first year starters who are in their fifth year of school an average talent. Thus far he has thrown 5 TD and 5 INT the first two weeks bringing his career totals to 14 of each. He threw all five of the TD passes against Western Kentucky, but the Hilltoppers also picked him off twice and deflected several passes at the line of scrimmage. Against UCLA he was under more pressure and did not respond well with three picks and not a single TD toss. He is definitely a "comfort zone" passer in that he must be in good down and distance situations and have excellent protection in order to be effective.

The strength of the Tennessee offense is its offensive line and potential power running game. The line is big and strong with four senior starters including the left side of Chris Scott and Vlad Richard. The line has been a big banged up but they are capable of pushing people around.

The running backs are talented with Senior Montario Hardesty (249, 2 TD) and highly touted freshman Bryce Brown (138, 1 TD). Both were much more effective against Western than they were against UCLA.

The receiving corps has been decimated by injuries, but there's still talent there. The most talented guys are freshmen who committed to UF before switching to Rocky Top; Marsalis Teague (6-86, 1 TD) and Pahokee star Nu'Keese Richardson (3-30). They also have veterans Quintin Hancock (10-123, 1) and Gerald Jones who has been slowed by injuries. They like to throw to the TE Luke Stocker especially near the goal line (4-33, 2 TD).

Overall this is an offense that has to play ball control and hope to hit on a big play or two off play action. They must shorten the game and be mistake free. The Gators in turn need to play strong against the run, especially on first down. If the Vols are in bad down and distance situations it'll be a long day for them offensively. However the Gators can't get consumed with denying first down runs that they get sucked in on play action and give up a cheap score or two.

Tomorrow we'll look at the stronger side of the ball for Tennessee, their defense plus special teams.

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