Florida Safety, Matt Elam
Tennessee hasn't won in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium since 2003. However, this current team may be its best chance in a long time. Tennessee brings into Gainesville a talented, young and dynamic passing attack. The nine-point underdogs are confident and ready to spring the upset.
Florida safety Matt Elam tweeted that the Cincinnati and Montana film was not impressive. Vols’ receiver Da’Rick Rogers promptly responded, “that’s the tweet of a terrified DB.”
Yes, it looks like the Tennessee and Florida rivalry is back to a level of intensity not seen in recent years. Here is a look to how the Vols can complete their comeback to relevance and pull off the upset.
The Tennessee wide receivers, Justin Hunter and Da'Rick Rogers, are beginning to receive a lot of hype after they each reeled in over 100 yards a piece in both of Tennessee's games so far.
The former 4-star and 5-star prospects, respectively, are incredible combinations of size and speed. Hunter is listed at 6'4", 200 lbs and spends his winters with the UT track team.
If Hunter is the prototypical deep threat, then Rogers is a monster over the middle. The 6'3", 215-pound sophomore, as shown in the video, has the frame to bully defensive backs and pull down the football in traffic.
On the flip side, Florida's secondary is the weakness of their defense. The UF DB's are all listed at under 5'10''. Florida also starts three freshmen and two sophomores in its nickel package.
If the Gators secondary is the weakness of their defense, then their defensive line is its strength. Florida boasts one of the most talented D-Lines in the country filled with 4- and 5-star recruits headlined by Shariff Floyd and Ronald Powell.
This Florida pass-rush will be light years better than anything Tyler Bray has seen since taking over as the starter.
However, one aspect of Tennessee's resurgence that is flying under the radar is the improved O-line. Center James Stone, guard Zach Fulton and tackle Ja'Waun James all started last season as true freshmen.
Now a year older and stronger and joined by Notre Dame transfer Alex Bullard and junior left tackle Dallas Thomas, they make up a much bigger and deeper O-Line than anything Tennessee has had since at least 2007.
The Florida D-line will make plays, but Alex Bullard and company should be able to allow Tyler Bray and Tauren Poole time to make plays of their own.
The only preseason All-SEC player on the Tennessee defense, Malik Jackson will have to be very disruptive on Saturday for the Tennessee defense to succeed.
Tennessee starts three true freshmen on defense, both outside linebackers and corner Justin Coleman.
If Jackson can help the Vols generate a pass rush on Florida QB John Brantley and disrupt the Florida passing game, the Vols will be able to focus on the biggest threats on the Florida offense, running backs Jeff Demps and Chris Rainey.
Say what you want about Tyler Bray. He's young, he is brash, he is inexperienced.
The bottom line is the kid oozes talent. The former Elite-11 prospect has done nothing but break records since taking over as the Volunteer quarterback.
Bray is also very cool under pressure. While this will be his biggest road game by, far the kid is very confident and poised and will not be intimidated by the Swamp.