Florida Gators face a Rocky Top Tipping point

It may sound familiar but — for now — it is true. Despite a loss at Alabama the Florida Gators have all of their goals sitting in front of them, at arms length, ready for the taking.

“All the goals are still there, got a lot of football to play everything’s out in front of us,” Will Muschamp said on Monday. “Let’s go get it.

The idle week came at a great time for the Gators. Trenton Brown, D.J. Humphries and a few other Gators were nursing injuries and needed the week off to recuperate. It was also an opportunity for the wild, wild SEC East to continue playing out like an episode of Days of Our Lives.

Missouri (4-1, 1-0 SEC) took down South Carolina (3-2, 2-2 SEC), while Georgia (3-1, 1-1 SEC) squeaked by Tennessee (2-2, 0-1 SEC). Kentucky (3-1, 1-1 SEC) handled a Vanderbilt (1-4, 0-3 SEC) team that looks like it won’t win a conference game all season.

The weekend left Missouri alone atop the SEC East standings with South Carolina second and Florida, Georgia and Kentucky tied in third.

This weekend is a make or break weekend for the season.

It’s early but this is it for the Gators. Florida brings in a nine game winning streak over the Vols but those past nine teams won’t suit up and take the field this Saturday.

A win this week and Florida will carry momentum into a home contest against LSU. A loss and the fan base will grow restless, Muschamp’s seat will grow hotter and the LSU game will look like a mountain too tall to climb.

Going 1-2 in the SEC may not mathematically eliminate Florida with games against LSU, Missouri, Georgia, South Carolina and Vanderbilt still on the schedule but a loss this week would be devastating to Florida mental state and their confidence.

It’s college football so every week is a “must win” game. This week, however, there is even more meaning to those words. The winner of this game will still have all of their goals in front of them, while the loser will be sent to the SEC cellar with Vanderbilt.

Tennessee is coming off of a tightly contested game with Georgia. Butch Jones has the Vols and their fans believing. The whole, “brick by brick” mantra is picking up steam and the Volunteers have some serious playmakers this season. Freshman running back and Mr. Tennessee football as a high school senior Jalen Hurd has 72 carries for 328 yards and two scores on the season. The 6-3, 227-pound Hurd is a load to tackle and after the Gators defense wilted late in the game trying to tackle Derrick Henry two weeks ago, we’ll see what they’re made of this week.

Florida needs to limit Tennessee’s running game and make Justin Worley beat them with his arm.

On the other side of the ball, Tennessee is playing with an entire new defensive line that hasn’t been able to stop a nosebleed on the ground. The Vols are allowing 169 rushing yards a game, dead last in the SEC. Florida, despite having to play against Alabama’s No. 3 nationally ranked rush defense, is still averaging 201 rushing yards a game.

Getting both Kelvin Taylor and Matt Jones going early will be key. Neyland Stadium is sold out this week and if the Gators can get the running game going early they can keep the 102,455 paying fans on their seats and keep them from being a factor on Saturday.

Three eye-opening stats for the game

The Vols bring in the nation’s best third down defense (20.75%) against a Florida offense that has only converted on 34% of their third down chances.

Florida is tied with South Carolina as last in the SEC with just six sacks on the season. Tennessee has allowed a SEC high 12 sacks through four games.

Tennessee is the least penalized team in the SEC, averaging just four penalties for an average of 28.3 yards per game. The Gators are last in the SEC averaging 7.7 penalties for an average of 71.3 yards-per-game.

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Nick de la Torre
A South Florida native, Nick developed a passion for all things sports at a very young age. His love for baseball was solidified when he saw Al Leiter’s no-hitter for the Marlins live in May of 1996. He was able to play baseball in college but quickly realized there isn’t much of a market for short, slow outfielders that hit around the Mendoza line. Wanting to continue with sports in some capacity he studied journalism at the University of Central Florida. Nick got his first start in the business as an intern for a website covering all things related to the NFL draft before spending two seasons covering the Florida football team at Bleacher Report. That job led him to GatorCountry. When he isn’t covering Gator sports, Nick enjoys hitting way too many shots on the golf course, attempting to keep up with his favorite t.v. shows and watching the Heat, Dolphins and Marlins. Follow him on twitter @NickdelatorreGC


  1. We may be between a rock and a hard place unless the defense can find a pass rush and sort out the DB mess. Hurd was the Vols only effective runner vs Ga but rushed for 119 yards. Worley passed for 264 yards and 3 TDs in little more than 3 qtrs, with 6 different receivers catching 3 or more balls. I think I’d focus on shutting down Worley (with a pass rush?) and try our best to not let Hurd torch us too bad on the ground.
    I think this could be a very tough game, but looking forward to seeing what Boom and Roper pull out of their hats.
    Get up & go, Gators. . . PLEASE!

  2. I was concerned after the Bama debacle, but that was Bama and I started feeling better after the cloud of disappointment finally lifted-even though I didn’t expect a win. Then I watched the Tenn/Ga game and I saw what Worley is capable of. I might be confused, but I thought the kid was really a fabulous QB. Some of our players are going to have to grow up. And some playmakers need to emerge. Some decent passing and catching would go a long way in this upcoming contest. They are capable but the Gators have their work cut out for them… Go Gators.

  3. Of many things, one in particular stands out to me. The Gators are again at the bottom when it comes to being penalized. That is a clear sign that nothing has really changed with this year’s team. Do you remember Muschamp’s response last year when he was questioned about penalties? Instead of addressing the question and saying he’d fix it or conceding that it was a problem, what did he say? He said that Florida committed a lot of penalties before he arrived, implying that there was nothing he could do about it, that’s just what happens at Florida and should be expected. This was just another example of why Muschamp should not have been retained after last season. If you are on the margin when it comes to talent, which Florida is, forget about the recruiting rankings, the last thing you can do is beat yourself, which is what penalties help do. Duke wins with marginal talent because they don’t beat themselves. Florida doesn’t have smart players, it seems. Would anyone be surprised to see Darious Cummings pick up a personal foul in Knoxville. I know some of you still think that Florida is this immensely talented team, but I think it’s evident on the field that Florida isn’t talented enough to overcome shooting themselves in the foot, and being the most penalized team in the SEC is something that a team on the margin can’t afford to do.