Tennessee Volunteers Football: Offensive Line Play Will Be Key Against Florida
Tennessee heads to the Swamp on Saturday to face a Florida team that has completely shut down the two offenses that they've played so far.
Those offenses were FAU and UAB, but their defense is still playing at an undeniably high level.
Tennessee, on the other hand, has had equally good offensive play in their two wins.
A shut-down defense is about to collide with an explosive offense. Regardless of the outcome, this should be a great game.
Despite the phenomenal passing game that the Vols have developed, there are still areas that need improving if the Vols want to leave Gainesville 3-0. First and foremost is offensive-line play.
Florida has, by a large margin, the most talented defensive line and linebacker corps that Tennessee has yet faced. While Tennessee's offensive line did a much better job opening holes against Cincinnati in the second half, they are going to have to play at a much higher level against Florida.
Don't get me wrong, Cincinnati has a pretty good front seven. Derek Wolfe is a great defensive tackle, J.K. Schaeffer is a great linebacker and Walter Stewart is a quality end as well. However, beyond those three, Cincinnati's front seven is nothing special.
Florida has a great player at nearly every position in the front seven: Sharrif Floyd and Jaye Howard are both top 10 level defensive tackles. Their linebackers are even more impressive, with Jelani Jenkins, Jonathan Bostic and Ron Powell all playing at a high level.
Tennessee's offensive line did a good job run-blocking against Cincinnati once they'd been on the field for a while, but they need to play at that level immediately if Tennessee wants to run on Florida.
Will Tennessee beat Florida on Saturday?
Of course, what's more important for Tennessee is pass-blocking. Tennessee's offensive line didn't give up a single sack against Cincinnati, which is no small feat, but again, it will be much harder to do that against Florida.
Will Muschamp runs a defensive scheme with a hybrid defensive end/outside linebacker, so they will be pass-rushing way more often than either Cincinnati or Montana, and as good as Bray is, he won't be completing many passes if he's getting hit or sacked often.
Florida's defensive secondary is pretty unimpressive in comparison to the rest of the team, so Tennessee will be fine if the line can keep Tyler Bray on his feet.
Between Tyler Bray, Da'Rick Rogers and Justin Hunter, Tennessee has a phenomenal pass offense (tight end Mychal Rivera is looking great too), but they can only do what they do if the offensive line keeps them protected. If they do their job, Tennessee will come out with a win and secure their spot as a contender in the SEC East.
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