Florida vs. Tennessee: Late Offensive Surge Launches Gators to 3-0 Record

Steven Gerwel@Steve_GerFeatured Columnist IVSeptember 16, 2012

KNOXVILLE, TN - SEPTEMBER 15: Justin Hunter # 11 of the Tennessee Volunteers is tackled by Jonathan Bostic #1 and and Antonio Morrison #12 of the Florida Gators during the second half of play at Neyland Stadium on September 15, 2012 in Knoxville, Tennessee.    (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)
John Sommers II/Getty Images

Florida has come under scrutiny after pulling off narrow wins in the first two weeks, but they seem to be on the right track. 

In the opening game of the season, the Gators faced an inferior opponent in Bowling Green and only won by 13 points in what should have been a landslide victory. The following week, they narrowly escaped with a road victory in a 20-17 win over Texas A&M.

But on Saturday, the No. 18 Gators came up with a promising 37-20 victory over No. 23 Tennessee

With a solid win against a ranked SEC opponent, perhaps the voters and media figures will back off the Gators and begin to treat them like a serious team in 2012. 

The Gators were kept in check for most of the game as Tennessee maintained a small but steady lead, but Florida dominated the second half.

Tennessee scored a touchdown in the third quarter to take a 20-13 lead, but it was their last score of the day. The Gators came roaring back with some late-game offense, including three touchdowns in a nine-minute period. 

Combine that with a solid defensive performance, and the Gators advanced to 3-0. 


Tyler Bray of Tennessee was able to pick up 257 yards through the air with a pair of touchdowns, but his 50.0 percent completion rate and two interceptions spoiled the day. 

On the ground, the Volunteers were quite effective with 93 yards on 26 carries and a touchdown. Rajion Neal led Tennessee with 87 rushing yards. 

Through the air, Justin Hunter and Cordarrelle Patterson combined for 151 yards. 

Tennessee had no problem outscoring Florida early on. They led 14-10 at halftime and led 20-13 midway through the third quarter. 

Unfortunately for Tennessee, the Gators were able to storm back late in the game and score 24 unanswered points to close out the game. 

Gator QB Jeff Driskel had a solid performance, completing 14-of-20 and throwing two touchdowns. 

On the ground, Mike Gillislee and Trey Burton combined for 206 yards, while Burton punched in two scores.

Jordan Reed was Florida's top receiver with five catches for 60 yards and a score. Frankie Hammond had a 75-yard touchdown reception for his only catch on the afternoon. 


The Gators defense came up with two turnovers and were able to limit the Volunteers to only 83 yards on the ground. 

Florida was also effective on third down, allowing Tennessee to convert only six times out of 16 attempts. 

Tennessee was not so lucky, as they were dominated on the ground after giving up 336 rushing yards. 

The Volunteers were able to limit the Gators to just 219 passing yards, but with such an effective run game, Florida had little need to go airborne. 

After surrendering 7.8 yards per carry, Tennessee needs to seriously reevaluate their front eight on defense. 

Next for Each Team 

The Florida Gators will take on SEC rival Kentucky in what should be an easy win for the Gators, but they take on Louisiana State the following week. That game will be their first true gut check of the season. 

The Volunteers take on Akron a week from now in what should be a light game. And then comes No. 7 Georgia the following week, which will give Tennessee a chance to get its season back on track. 


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