Florida vs. Tennessee: 5 Players Who Will Carry the Vols to Victory
Let me start off by saying Tyler Bray will shockingly not be part of this list.
Yes, Bray is one of the top quarterbacks in the SEC, and, yes, he will potentially be a first-round pick in next year's NFL draft. But Florida has already game-planned for him. The Gators have scouted him and watched hours upon hours of film to try to figure out how to contain his prototypical NFL arm and throwing accuracy.
So while Bray is very important, there are other Tennessee players who need to step up to make this a winnable game.
Also, keep in mind that this game marks the first time since the 2007 season that both programs are ranked in the AP poll. That meeting didn't go well for the Vols, who lost 59-20 in The Swamp.
Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley is looking for his first win against the Gators since joining the program a few years ago. And with both teams looking to gain an edge in the SEC East standings, this game is shaping up to be an important one.
With the spotlight on Bray, look for these five players to step it up in Knoxville.
Justin Hunter, WR
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With the pressure firmly on Hunter's shoulders to perform after ex-teammate Da'Rick Rogers was suspended indefinitely by Derek Dooley for a number of reasons, look for Hunter to step it up for the Vols Saturday night.
Hunter, who had a solid game against Florida in 2010 (three catches for 60 yards and a TD), came back the next year against the Gators looking for more. Unfortunately, that was the last game he played that season. He tore his ACL on the first passing play of the game.
As far as this season goes, it looks like he hasn't missed a beat. He's caught 17 balls for 219 yards and three touchdowns. Apprehensiveness? Please. Just another walk in the park for him.
With the man-beast Cordarrelle Patterson on the other side of the field, Florida will have to pick their poison as far as to who they want burning them. Just expect this: If Florida dares to play single coverage, there will be at least two scores from Hunter.
Rajion Neal, RB
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Running back Rajion Neal has been the leading man for Tennessee early on.
He has carried the ball 35 times for 118 yards and three touchdowns thus far this season.
He’s only averaging 3.4 yards per carry.
Florida is expecting the Vols to beat them through the air, which is most likely. But if Neal has a solid game, the Gators will have no choice but to be modest defensively.
Sure, Marlin Lane is the better rusher, but thus far, Dooley has had more confidence in his junior tailback. The pass-first game plan of the Vols will surely change as they need to slow it down to dictate the tempo.
The Vols have only rushed it 81 times this season. Expect at least 35 carries tonight, with a fair share of them going to Neal.
Derrick Brodus, K
I know, some of you may have never heard of the kid (I had a tough time finding a photo of him), but he will be playing a pivotal role in Saturday night's game.
The Vols handed Brodus the keys to the starting kicking spot Monday. Bold, yes. Risky, check. The right move at the right time...Yahtzee.
He may be known for this incident last season, but after Saturday night, he will be known for knocking down some big-time field goals.
The Vols haven't had a solid kicking game for quite some time now. But with other areas of the special teams having been improved, there is no reason to believe that the kicking game won't be either.
Let's put it this way, Tennessee fans aren't hoping the kicking game wins it for them. They are hoping the kicking game doesn't blow it for them. Relax, Tennessee fans, Brodus will calm your nerves.
Herman Lathers, LB
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The song remains the same for Tennessee's tough linebacker, Herman Lathers.
Lathers has seen injury after injury during his time at Tennessee. He's also seen something far worse.
Lathers was turning into one of Tennessee's top defenders early in his career before battling nagging and chronic injuries. Now, coming into this game, he is questionable with a shoulder injury.
This man is battle-tested and ready to have a big season. He doesn't want these injuries to slow him down and I don't expect them to.
Tennessee will look for Lathers to bring his maturity, leadership and unbelievable drive into this crucial game.
Watch Lathers and the 4-3 to wreak havoc on the Florida receivers all night.
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Okay, they're not a player. They are far more important than that. These fans could hold the game in their hands, depending on how they loud they cheer.
Yes, the Gators went into one of the more raucous crowds last week in winning at Texas A&M, but they haven't seen anything like this.
Neyland Stadium will be absolutely rockin' Saturday night.
Look for Tennessee to set an attendance record, as the fans will be practically everywhere and doing whatever they can to make it a long night for the Gators.
Some will say the Gators have an edge with their own crazy fans and stadium, but they will face a far different atmosphere Saturday night when they play in front of 102,000 fans wearing "Tennessee orange" and mocking the "Gator Chomp."
Watch out for multiple delay-of-game penalties and an indefinite number of miscues.