Saturday, September 19, 2009…Gainesville, FL…possibly the biggest game of the year for the Vols. The result? Florida defeated Tennessee 23-13. Is anyone surprised by this? Well, I would have to say yes and no. Sure, everyone expected the Gators to beat the Vols, but I don’t think anyone thought it would only be by 10 points. So, in this week’s UT Vols post I’ll discuss what I think are the positives and negatives taken from the loss to Florida.
I’ll start with the negatives, which all stem from the offense. Tennessee’s lack of offensive production cost them the game. Most of the blame lies with QB Jonathan Crompton. I have to say he is the worst QB I have seen at UT. I wonder if the coaching staff has any confidence left in him after another horrible performance. Crompton was 11-of-19 for only 93 yards passing. Add to that no TD passes and 2 interceptions (which makes 7 for the season, in 3 games). Crompton is simply unable to make passes down the field. Everything that was completed in the game was an underneath route or a screen. The Vols cannot win games without a productive QB.
I can’t put a negative on the entire offense. I think the line did a nice job against the FL defense opening holes for the backs. The running game was not the best, but the backs provided the only spark of the day for the Vols’ offense. Hardesty carried 20 times for 96 yards and a TD (the first TD scored against FL in 2009). Freshman Bryce Brown managed 21 yards on 8 carries and added another 34 yards on 3 receptions.
Now for the positives. The Tennessee defense stepped up again and played very well against this tough Gator team. They did give up 208 rushing yards (76 from Tebow), but held QB Tim Tebow to only 115 yard passing. Eric Berry also had an interception in the game and several good tackles. Dennis Rogan picked up a fumble and set up the Vols only TD of the game. The line kept pressure on Tebow all day and there was good coverage in the secondary. Tennessee also defended the option very well, something I have not seen from the Vols defense in the past.
Vol fans should be proud of what this team accomplished Saturday against the Gators. Yes, it’s a loss and tough to swallow, but overall the team played well and proved that they can hang with good teams. Everyone thought the Gators would run all over Tennessee and absolutely destroy them. To the surprise of everyone the Vols held their own and fought hard. Tennessee has a lot of young talent on the team. The freshman have played very well, and I see a bright future for the Vols. The one thorn in our side is the QB. Crompton is not the answer. I think the coaching staff should give Nick Stephens a shot. I don’t see how he could be any less productive than Crompton. At least put him in and see what he can do. If the Vols had a good QB in the game they would have beaten Florida. I believe that is the only thing that prevented a victory Saturday.
I hope the Vols make some adjustments and improvements this week as they face Ohio in a non-conference match-up. I would like to see Stephens in at QB to see what he can do for us. The Florida loss was tough, but there are some very positive signs for the future of this Tennessee team. I just hope we can get something going this year and turn the season around. It’s going to take a productive QB and offense to make that happen.