When the Gators are better in the trenches, they usually prevail. When the Vols are better in the trenches, they usually prevail.
So, what must the Vols do tonight to win the trenches, thereby keeping their point production (33.0 per game) high and their unbeaten record (2-0) intact?
"We've just need to keep doing what we're doing," Sears says. "What we're doing is working. We ain't been able to run the ball the way we'd like to but Erik has been playing really good – picking people apart, really. He's playing the best he's played since he got here."
Ainge is completing 74.5 percent of his passes. He has thrown for seven touchdowns with just two interceptions. His 226.63 passer-efficiency rating leads the NCAA. It's a good thing for Tennessee he's playing lights-out because the ground game was a no-show (32 carries, 79 yards) last weekend against Air Force.
Sears says he and the other blockers share the blame for the rushing problems vs. the Falcons.
"It was just five guys not being on the same page in the run game," he says. "And we couldn't really get the Air Force scheme down early. We couldn't get a feel for what they were doing but Erik was playing well. He really bailed us out."
Air Force put extra men "in the box" in an effort to disrupt Tennessee's blocking scheme. Florida doesn't have to resort to such tactics.
"Florida's going to come out and play their 4-2," Sears says. "They're going to move up-front like Florida always has. I can't really compare them to Air Force because, talent-wise, Florida's probably 10 times better than Air Force."
The Gators' front four may be the finest in college football. Seniors Ray McDonald and Marcus Thomas are on the watch list for the Lombardi Award as the NCAA's top defensive lineman. Junior Jarvis Moss is on the list, too. Rounding out the front four is senior Joe Cohen.
"Their defensive front … we have to find a way to manage those guys," UT head coach Phillip Fulmer says. "You've got three guys that'll be in the NFL this time next year and one that, if he chooses to come out, will be in the NFL. You've got at least guys that are going to be NFL players."