The Florida Gators pulled off a late win against USF on Saturday to move to 2-1 on the year as they head on the road for the first time this year.
This week is a tough week as the Gators prepare for a Tennessee team that is undefeated and has one of the fastest offenses in the country.
Florida heads into this week as a two-score underdog against their rival Vols as Napier and company look to get the offense going.
There are a lot of questions surrounding how the team will handle a road game heading into the Tennessee game and the GatorCountry team will give you their preview of the Tennessee game as well as their predictions.
What are you keys for this team on offense this week?
AS: Controlling the line of scrimmage, Florida has got to get a push up front on the offensive line to get the running game and protect Anthony Richardson, so he has time in the pocket. Florida has been the most successful this year when they’re able to run the ball and add that to the fact that the Gators need to control the clock to keep the ball away from Tennessee.
Nick: Anthony Richardson. I don’t believe an efficient rushing attack will be enough to win this football game. Richardson is going to need to keep pace with Tennessee’s offense. The other key is getting Florida’s running backs involved in different ways; these are the playmakers on the team, and they need to be utilized in more ways than one.
Gentry: Anthony Richardson has got to prove that this offense can move the ball in the passing game. After a sluggish performance from Richardson the past two games, I’m eager to see if he’s made significant changes. Regardless, the running backs and offensive line will need to continue to keep their foot on the gas if the Gators have any chance of winning this football game.
What does the Gators need to do on defense to slow down the Vols?
AS: Florida has got to get a pass rush against Hooker and disrupt his rhythm to keep the offense in check as much as they can. The Gators only have three sacks on the year but they did get a better pass rush against USF but that must continue Saturday. Tennessee has allowed five sacks this year so they’ve been pretty good against the rush.
Nick: The Gators are going to need to stop the run. Tennessee can beat you in variety of ways, but if the Gators can’t slow down the run, it could be a long night. Tennessee loves to throw the football, but with their top receiver questionable with an ankle injury and the Gators inability to stop the run to this point, you can expect the Vols to try and run it against the Gators.
Gentry: This defense cannot let Hendon Hooker find his groove. Hooker currently has 37 touchdowns and only two interceptions in a Tennessee uniform. The senior quarterback is arguably the best player on the field for Tennessee and limiting Hooker in the passing game will be key for this defense. The defensive line has got to bring pressure all night long and finish plays compared to what we’ve all seen this year so far.
Anthony Richardson and the running game dominated in week one, do you think they can get back to that this week?
AS: Tennessee is only allowing 84 yards per game on the ground, but I believe the Gators will still be able to run the ball in this game. I believe that Anthony Richardson will be more involved in the running game and that will help on Saturday. The Gators need to keep the time of possession in their favor and keep Tennessee’s offense on the sideline.
Nick: I think the Gators will be good once again on the ground. Whether or not they dominate? That’s up to Anthony Richardson. The Gators need the fearless Richardson to take the field on Saturday afternoon. Designed QB runs, QB scrambles, RPO’s, and play actions all need to be in effect if the Gators want to upset the Vols.
Gentry: The offensive line has done their job better than any position group the first three weeks in my opinion. Anthony Richardson has everything he needs to be successful in the run game. The only question I have is if Richardson will be able to shake off adversity this week, stop holding himself back, and play his brand of ball. The day that Richardson flips that switch is the day Gator Nation sees Anthony Richardson blossom in the run game. As far as the running backs go, I’m excited to see them keep driving this offense.
Who do you want to see get more snaps in the first road game?
AS: Devin Moore has been a physical defensive back and the Gators need that this weekend against a Tennessee offense that been good this year. Avery Helm hasn’t been as physical in coverage and having a guy like Moore could slow down the Tennessee receivers some.
Nick: Trent Whittemore is my pick for this week. I could have picked anyone from the list of WRs that haven’t really played much, but Whittemore was effective in minimal play last week, finding open space for 33-yard reception. He led the Gators in receiving against USF on just one catch. He’s a veteran player that’s not going to be rattled by the Tennessee crowd.
Gentry: He’s been an absolute work horse for the Gators in the backfield this season and only seems to be getting better each week. With only six carries for 103 yards and a touchdown last weekend against USF, Montrell Johnson is a no brainer for me. Johnson is arguably the best player on the field and has been the heart and soul so far for this offense. Coach Napier will have to get Johnson rolling this weekend if the Gators are to find success in the run game.
What will be the keys for victory for the Gators this week?
AS: Controlling the time of possession will be the key for the Gators this weekend but the biggest key is for Anthony Richardson to be Anthony Richardson this week. Richardson needs to be his old self and run the ball which will allow him to be effective in the play-action passing game. If the Gators are going to win this weekend in Knoxville, Richardson has to be the star.
Nick: The Gators’ offense is going to have to keep pace with Tennessee. Tennessee is going to score points; the Gators need to do the best they can to match them. The Gators will need to lean on the run game early on to try and keep Tennessee’s offense off the field as much as possible. Richardson is going to need to have a great game in all aspects. I don’t see Florida making the upset without Richardson playing effectively and efficiently.
Gentry: Anthony Richardson is the biggest key for Florida here. If Richardson and the defensive front can get back to playing their style of football, this weekend’s outcome could end up being a big shocker for Tennessee fans. Richardson will have to show that he can elevate the passing game and lead this offense against a very good Tennessee team on the road.
Gives us your prediction on how this game will turn out?
AS: This hurts me to say but I think Tennessee wins on Saturday as the Vols offense is really good and the Gators’ depth on defense isn’t there and the offense hasn’t shown they can keep up if this game because an offensive shootout. I’m going to go 35-17 with Tennessee winning.
Nick: Close your eyes. I’m going 35-21 Tennessee. I think Florida keeps it close in the 1st half before getting outmatched in the 2nd half. Tennessee’s offense is going to be a lot for this Gators’ defense to handle, they haven’t seen anything like it this season. In game adjustments will be crucial for slowing down this Tennessee offense that’s averaging 52 points per game.
Gentry: These score predictions get harder just about every week. As much as I hate to say it, I don’t see Florida escaping Knoxville this weekend. Anthony Richardson has continued to struggle with letting bad plays go and flushing it ever since the Kentucky game. Unfortunately, I just don’t see him getting it together at Neyland Stadium in front of 100,000 fans this weekend. I’m going to go with a score of 31-24 in a very close football game with Tennessee coming out on top. Although, I wouldn’t be surprised if Richardson has a coming out party and tears this Tennessee defense up. He’s been known to play well on the road in the past.