Cory Gunkel's Take
Tennessee has been like the guy at the bar hitting on women who smells like a possum and wears cheap sunglasses indoors. Neither can close, and it's hard to figure out which one is more brutal to watch. For once in this decade of dominance Florida has overseen against its biggest SEC rival, it appeared the magic fairy dust had spilled a little on the other shade of orange.
Josh Dobbs caught a 58-yard touchdown reception on a double-pass that swung momentum forcefully on the side of Tennessee. The defense held Florida to just 109 rushing yards, helping the Vols build a 13-point lead late in the second half. Trevor Daniel held up his end of the bargain with deep punts that flipped position. Tennessee was clearly the better team, and in the end, it didn't matter one single bit. The Gators were an astonishing 5-of-5 on fourth down despite converting on only 3-of-15 on the down before it. Butch Jones wasted two timeouts and failed to go for two after his team went up by 12 in the fourth quarter. All of the good things that happened in this game for Tennessee — the dominant performance on the ground by running back Jalen Hurd and quarterback Josh Dobbs, the 100 percent scoring efficiency rate in the red zone, the utter dominance of a talented Florida team on the road — were wiped away like the smiles on the faces of Tennessee's sideline after Aaron Medley's valiant 55-yard attempt sailed just outside the goal post in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
There's not much to say that you'll want to read other than the Vols choked yet another game away they had wrapped in orange and white. In only his second extensive action, Gator quarterback Will Grier threw for 123 yards and a touchdown — on fourth down. In this college football season, teams are 188-3 when leading by 13 points in the fourth quarter according to ESPN. Two of those losses can be attributed to Tennessee. The Vols coaching staff simply made too many errors and once again weren't able to finish the sandwich.
Dobbs, who led the Vols in passing, rushing and receiving, wasn't given the opportunity to throw the ball much (ending the day with just 83 yards in the air), but Tennessee really didn't have to as its bruising run game sliced Florida open for over 200 yards. But the offense got conservative late and the defense gave up a 63-yard touchdown catch to Antonio Callaway with just 1:23 to play to ultimately give the game away and continue the second-longest current losing streak to an opponent in the SEC.
Jones and his staff do not know how to close out football games at this point for Tennessee. In their two losses, the Vols have been outscored 49-17 after halftime. It's easy to say this is just one game on the road in the SEC, and that's true. This defeat in no way has to define Tennessee with seven more conference matchups left on the schedule. But will Team 119 be able to shake off yet another monumental heartbreak with a Top 10 Georgia team coming to town? And if they're able to snag a lead, can they hold it until the final whistle?
Special teams: B
Danny Parker's Take
It the best of times. It was the worst of times.
For all the kiddies that are still molding their craft covering the Tennessee beat, Saturday night is why the veterans continue to pick the opposition in ever big game involving the Volunteers.
Two of the three losses in the 191 games where teams carried a minimum lead of 13 points in the fourth quarter have come from Tennessee. Now, try not to choke with you Sun-Drop going down the wrong pipe.
Riding the silver lining covering this program is well past old. What in the hell is going on with this team? Is this what the South Carolina beat was like after Joshua Dobbs worked magic on the Gamecocks in Columbia last year?
Crazy stuff, man. Just crazy stuff.
Tennessee ran for 254 yards, netted 51.3 yards per punt, got 58 yards receiving from its quarterback, got three or more tackles from 12 players, didn't throw an interception against an elite secondary...and lost.
If you told me any two of those things would hold true, there's no way I would have predicted the Gators to move the streak to 11 games.
Don't understand how the Volunteers held Florida to 3-of-15 on third down but surrounded first downs on all five fourth-down attempts. Don't understand why Colton Jumper started. Don't understand how a player mistakenly goes onto the field for a substitution infraction with 3 seconds to play. Don't understand the bizarre use of timeouts.
If a magical version of Cher could pop up here in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium, singing "If I could turn back time," I wonder what Butch Jones may have done differently.
It's going to be a long week and an even longer year until Florida makes its way to Neyland Stadium. The taste of the Oklahoma and now Florida losses are going to stick with Big Orange Country for many, many moons.
Tennessee must come up with at least a pair of upsets in the remaining two-thirds of its schedule to get several long-time fans back on board. That may have to include Alabama and/or Georgia.
Even if it does, these L's won't soon be forgotten.
Special teams: B
Josh Woodward's Take
Welp, this is a tough one for the Vols, the fans and the staff. As I watched the players walk to the bus leaving the stadium with their heads hanging low, I felt for those kids. It is hard to lose like this. When will it stop for the Vols? Heck, I don't no, but this will make you grow up in a hurry. Tennessee players and fans deserve better.
Offensively, I liked the way they ran the ball, I knew that they needed Josh Dobbs to have a good game and he was excellent on his feet. Jalen Hurd also had a great ballgame, I love the way he runs the ball. Both will be sore tomorrow as they gave their all tonight. The concern is still the passing game, and receivers getting open, but the offensive line still has to block better in passing situations. The trick plays were key calls on offense today. I give the staff credit for calling those. They did get conservative in the fourth quarter, but they had a good lead and defense was playing well.
Defensively it was all about fourth down. Florida was 5-of-5 on fourth down plays. That can't happen. I don't understand some of the personnel at linebacker and when they made the change the defense improved. Tennessee held Florida to only 109 rushing yards, but allowed 283 passing yards. Most of those passing yards were on splash plays for Florida. I would like to see a few more blitzs from the staff. This Florida offense wasn't very good so, this one was on coaching especially on fourth downs.
Aaron Medley barely missed that game-winning kick. I would never put that on him. Trevor Daniel continues to punt well. I really wish they would let Alvin Kamara do more punt returns. I like his wiggle and they do need to rest Sutton. Evan Berry had some nice returns and will likely have another kickoff return for a touchdown this year.
Like I said, this one stung more than any I have been associated with. I guess the biggest questions I have is why not go for two when up 12? Butch said they have a chart that tells them what to do. I don't agree. Also, the substitution infraction at the end of the game wasn't on the staff. The player just ran on the field thinking he need to be in there and the staff quickly was screaming for him to get off. Worst possible timing for that to happen. This Arkansas game will be a measuring stick in my opinion.
Special teams: B