The Florida Gators are set to face off against No.11 Tennessee in The Swamp on Saturday night at 7:00 PM.
Tennessee lost a number of offensive weapons from their 2022 team which ranked as the top offense in college football a year ago. However, they returned several veteran play makers and have some emerging stars on their 2023 roster.
Gator Country provides you with five players to look out for on Tennessee’s offense when they take on the Gators in week three.
QB JOE MILTON #7
After earning Captial Orange Bowl MVP in 2022, the redshirt senior is back for his 6th collegiate season and third with the Volunteers. Despite entering the college ranks in 2018, Milton is set to make just his 12th career start against Florida on Saturday night.
Through two games in 2023, the 6-5, 235-pound quarterback has completed 42 of 63 passes (66.7%) for 429 yards, four touchdowns, and zero interceptions. The Orlando, Florida native has also added three rushing touchdowns to go with 40 yards on the ground.
The strong-armed veteran quarterback landed on several preseason watch lists, including 2023 Maxwell Award Watch List, 2023 Davey O’Brien Watch List, 2023 Walter Camp Player of the Year Watch list, and 2023 Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award Canidate. Milton was also named to the Preseason All-SEC Third Team by the Media and Phil Steele outlets.
The key for the Gators will be to keep Milton in the pocket, not letting him make plays with his legs.
“The quarterback is a freak of nature,” Napier said on Milton. “I mean, he’s very, very talented. Not only can throw it but can run it. I do think his ability to rush the ball may be even more effective and more willing it than the last guy.”
“Stopping the explosives,” LB Scooby Williams said on the challenge of stopping Milton if he gets loose.
RB JAYLEN WRIGHT #0
Stopping the run will be a key component for the Gators in week three. Tennessee ranks 4th in the FBS in rushing yards per game, averaging 257.5 yards through two games.
Leading Tennessee’s backfield is junior running back Jaylen Wright, who has managed 233 yards on just 25 carries in 2023, an average of 9.3 yards per carry.
In 2022, Wright ran for 875 yards and ten touchdowns, including one against Florida.
Wright landed on the Preseason All-SEC Third and Fourth Teams while also earning a 2023 Doak Walker Award Preseason Canidate selection.
The 5-11, 210 pound running back is the Volunteers top rated offensive player, posting an impressive grade of 90.4, according to Pro Football Focus.
Listed as a starter on Tennessee’s week three depth chart, Wright will share the backfield with senior running back Jabari Small.
RB JABARI SMALL #2
Small leads the Tennessee backfield in carries with 26 through two games, totaling 162 yards for an average of 6.2 yards per carry.
In 2022, Small ran for 734 yards and 13 touchdowns, including a big game against the Gators in 2022, where the 5-11, 213 pound running back ran for 90 yards and a touchdown in Knoxville.
Tennessee’s backfield also includes sophomore running back Dylan Sampson, who has three rushing touchdowns to start his 2023 campaign.
The Volunteers have a veteran running back unit in which they will certainly lean on against Florida.
“They do a good job up front,” Napier said on Tennessee’s running game. “They run the ball. These guys rush the ball. I think their offensive line coach does a good job. I think they’re effective. They have depth at running back.”
WR BRU MCCOY #15
The big bodied 6-3, 220-pound redshirt senior is the veteran in the Volunteers’ wide receiver room and played second fiddle to Jalin Hyatt in 2022. McCoy posted 52 receptions for 667 yards and four touchdowns a season ago; His 52 receptions ranked 12th in the SEC. McCoy posted three 100+ yard games while totaling five receptions of 30+ yards.
Last year against the Gators, McCoy caught five receptions for 102 yards and a score, including a long of 70 yards on Tennesse’s second possession of the game.
McCoy earned a 2023 Preseason All-SEC Second Team selection from four different publications (Athlon, Media, Coaches, Phil Steele).
The USC transfer has combined for 124 snaps through two games and is Tennessee’s highest graded receiver, according to PFF. McCoy has 17 starts under his belt entering week three of the 2023 season.
WR RAMEL KEYTON #9
Another receiver that’s going to be on the field a ton is 5th year senior Ramel Keyton. The Georgia native didn’t break out until his senior season, posting career highs in catches (31), yards (562), and touchdowns (5) in 2022.
Through two games in 2023, Keyton leads the Volunteers in receiving yards with 118 on eight catches, including a long of 41. Keyton is also tied for first in receiving touchdowns with one.
Keyton’s consistency has kept him on the field for Josh Heupel’s offense, logging 139 snaps through two games, the highest among Tennessee wide receivers.
WR SQUIRREL WHITE #10
The other receiver to look out for is Squirrel White, who posted a promising freshmen campaign in 2022, totaling 30 receptions, 481 yards, and two touchdowns. The 5-10, 165-pound slot receiver is a dynamic play maker that is light on his feet and moves very well in open space.
While White won’t get as many snaps as McCoy and Keyton, Josh Heupel will look to get the ball in his hands often. White leads the Volunteers in receptions with 10.