Vol Notebook: Game 3

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One question worth pondering in the wake of Tennessee's discouraging 37-20 loss to Florida Saturday night at Neyland Stadium: Does John Becksvoort have any kids approaching college age?

Chattanooga native Becksvoort was automatic on point-after-touchdown kicks during his four-year Vol career, nailing 161 of 161 attempts between 1991 and 1994. That didn't seem like such a big deal at the time but it does now. Derrick Brodus' missed PAT against the Gators was Tennessee's third misfire in three games. Michael Palardy made 9 of 11 tries in the first two games for the Vols, who stand just 11 of 14 on conversion attempts for the year.

On a positive note, Tennessee has added some suspense to the PAT kick.


Picking up at least four yards on first down helps a team keep the chains moving. Coaches call it "staying on schedule." Tennessee got four or more yards on first down 12 times on 28 first-down plays Saturday night, which is good. Counting penalties, however, the Vols also started 14 drives with zero or negative yards on first down, which is terrible.

In other words, quarterback Tyler Bray faced second and 10 yards or more 14 times against Florida. That puts a lot of pressure on a passing attack ... more pressure than Tennessee's offense could withstand ultimately.

Bray started fairly well, completing 17 of his first 28 pass attempts. After incurring an intentional-grounding penalty in the third period, however, he completed just 5 of 16 attempts thereafter with an interception.

Tennessee's 16-play touchdown drive to open the second quarter was the longest Bray has directed in his two-plus seasons as a Vol. The possession covered 76 yards, consumed 6 minutes and 20 seconds of clock and gave the Vols a 14-7 lead.

Bray booted his first career punt in the first quarter. On fourth and five at the Gator 45-yard line, he lined up in shotgun formation but quick-kicked the ball, which was downed at the Gator 4-yard line after traveling 41 yards. The last time a Vol quarterback punted was Oct. 3, 1992, when Heath Shuler booted a 39-yarder against LSU.


With Tennessee trailing 27-20 midway through the fourth quarter Justin Hunter dropped a third-and-10 pass that would've produced a first down at the Vol 40-yard line. That drop proved disastrous when the Gators zoomed 75 yards in three plays to go up 34-20 on their ensuing possession.

That drop also cost Hunter a statistical achievement. A reception there would have been his 23rd catch in the first three games of a season, tying a school record set by Cedrick Wilson in 1999.


On a night when Tennessee retired Johnny Majors' No. 45 jersey, the current Vol wearing that number had a memorable evening, as well.

Linebacker A.J. Johnson led the Vols with 11 tackles and scored a touchdown as a shotgun quarterback in Tennessee's wildcat package. Johnson played some wildcat QB at Gainesville (Ga.) High School and practiced at the position for the Vols since Week 1 of this season.

"I ran it in high school, so it really wasn't anything different," the 6-foot-2, 240-pound Johnson said. "When you get the ball going downhill, it's not too hard."


Vol senior Marsalis Teague started at cornerback against Florida Saturday night, marking the fourth time in four opportunities he started against the Gators during his career. After starting at wide receiver in 2009, he opened the next three contests at corner.

Unfortunately for Teague, the milestone will not be a memorable one. He missed a potential touchdown-saving tackle on Trey Burton's 80-yard burst that tied the score at 20 in the third quarter and finished 0-4 versus the Gators in his four starts against them.


Tennessee's 37-20 loss to Florida marked the second time in a row the Vols have lost decisively to the Gators on Sept. 15. The previous time was a 59-20 humiliation in Gainesville on Sept. 15, 2007. Prior to that the Vols were 4-0 all-time on Sept. 15, beating Duke 21-17 in 1973, Boston College 28-16 in 1979, Utah 27-21 in '84 and Texas-El Paso 56-0 in 1990.


Tennessee was unable to snap Florida's winning streak in the series — the Gators now have won eight meetings in a row — but the Vols did manage to halt one Florida streak on Saturday night. Florida had not allowed a passing touchdown through its first eight quarters of play until Bray hit Cordarrelle Patterson with a two-yard TD dart with 3:02 left in the first quarter. Bray added another passing touchdown to Mychal Rivera in the second quarter, this one covering six yards.


The Tennessee-Florida game marked the first time since Oct. 2, 2004 that ESPN's GameDay crew set up shop at Neyland Stadium. That occasion saw No. 8 Auburn hammer the No. 10 Vols 34-10.

Given that Tennessee's two most recent GameDay hostings saw the Big Orange outscored by a combined 71-30 margin, the Vols might prefer that Lee Corso & Company stay away from The Hill for a while.


Wide receiver Alton Howard, nicknamed "Pig," saw his first collegiate playing time in the second quarter of the Florida game. He is the 10th Vol freshman to play this season.

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