The Tennessee Vols traveled to Gainesville, FL Saturday to face the Florida Gators. As has been the case for the past 6 years, the Vols failed as Florida wins their 7th straight over the Vols by a score of 33-23.
I was not able to watch the game, thankfully, so I can only base this post of my opinions on what I have heard and read. With that, here is my summary of the events of Saturday.
First I’ll talk about Justin Hunter. He entered the game ranked 10th nationally in receiving. On the opening drive of the game he came down oddly after catching a pass, grabbed his knee and left the field. We would later learn that his injury was a season-ending torn ACL. It is no secret that Hunter was QB Tyler Bray’s go-to guy, and I think that was clear by his numbers Saturday. He ended the day 26 / 48 for 288 yards, 3 TD and 2 INT, compared to a 405 yard passing game the previous week. Justin Hunter’s loss is a tough blow to this UT team.
Personally I think what cost Tennessee the game at Florida, and what will cost them more games if they don’t improve, is their inability to run the football. Traditionally in the Tennessee – Florida rivalry, the team with the most rushing yards has won the game. Saturday was no exception. Florida carried the ball 40 times for 134 yards (not very impressive). However, compare that to Tennessee’s horrible performance of 21 carried for -9 yards. That’s right, we had NEGATIVE 9 YARDS RUSHING! Please explain how anyone can expect to win a game with a statistic such as that!
I hope the Vols make some improvements during their bye-week. Tyler Bray is a good QB, and he needs to find ways to get the other receivers more involved now that Hunter is sidelined. But, the key to the Vols’ success is going to be an established rushing attack. If they cannot find a way to run with the ball, then my fear is more losses and a very long season. I hope coach Dooley and the staff can get them on track quickly.