Last year against Miami, Florida struggled early against a defense that was faster and more complicated than they had expected, had some nervous moments at halftime but then took over the game and coasted to an important win. The Vols game had a different flow to the Miami contest, but the yardage and score was extremely similar.
Many expected the Gators to annihilate the boys from Rocky Top as did the odds makers who made the Gators a 29-point favorite. But that didn't take into account that Tennessee was returning most of the top players from a top 10 defense and added one of the best minds in football in Monte Kiffin. Those players, led by All-American safety Eric Berry, MLB Nick Reveiz and DT Dan Williams gave Florida's offense all it wanted and then some. The rest of the Vols secondary joined Berry in covering Florida's receivers as well as anyone has in the last three years forcing the Gators to grind it out and rely all too much on the running of Tim Tebow.
Of course when you rely on No. 15 you are rarely if ever disappointed. That is until the fourth quarter of this one. Tebow, straining for extra yardage near the Tennessee goal line fumbled. Instead of the Gators putting the game away the Vols had new life and quickly drove for a score to make it a ten point contest.
It could have really gotten interesting after a Gator three and out, but Chas Henry's first punt of the night was good for 55 yards and head coach Lane Kiffin inexplicably decided there was no hurry to try and score the 10 points they needed and used up 4:01 to cover 25 yards setting up a fourth down play near midfield. Crompton threw deep for just the second time in the game and for the second time it was intercepted. This time Ahmad black grabbed his first pick of the season the Gators had the game, finally.
Great for the Gators
A game like this was a great one for the Gator football team. Florida's dream of repeating as BCS Champs is going to involve some adversity along the way. The Gators faced a talented team and one of the nation's best defenses and learned that their pass blocking has to get MUCH better and their receivers have to step up and get open more consistently. The defensive line was much better for most of the second half, but was outplayed in the first 30 minutes.
There's still a long way to go in this campaign and the Gators have a lot of improving to do. Of course, the same was true after the Miami and Tennessee games of 2008.
Déjà vu' All Over Again
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