It was over when: Eddy Pineiro’s late onside kick was recovered by Tennessee with four minutes to go, ending any idea of a comeback.
Game ball goes to: Josh Dobbs. Give the man some credit. He’s been knocked his whole career for not being able to throw the ball in big spots, and he led the Vols back from 21-0 down primarily by throwing the ball. He also shook off an awful first half to deliver a performance that won’t soon be forgotten, as it ended the Volunteers’ 11 game losing streak to Florida.
Stat of the game: 38. The Vols reeled off 38 consecutive points, 35 of them in the second half, to erase the monumental deficit and end the streak.
What to like: Not a lot, truth be told. Austin Appleby didn’t look too bad, but he won’t be playing more than another week or so. The defensive line swallowed up Tennessee’s offensive line, but faltered down the stretch when they were counted on the most. And Tyrie Cleveland stepped up and made a big play, but he, like the rest of the offense disappeared when needed the most (albeit through no fault of his own.)
What to work on: The second half play calling was absolutely pathetic, and that’s the nicest thing I have to say about it. Where the first half featured an exciting and open style of offense, the final 30 minutes provided play calling that was more reminiscent of Steve Addazio than anything else. Running right into the same spot over and over again, ditching the play action, and failing to take advantage of Tennessee’s weak secondary as the Gators did throughout the first half all added up to the worst half of football Doug Nussmeier has ever called, and that led directly to Florida’s death.
Offensive grade: C-. It’s really more the coaches’ fault than anything else, but the offense completely flopped in big boy moments, leaving the door open for the Vols to come back. Of course, when Appleby did drop back to pass in the second half, he was swarmed by Derek Barnett, so maybe that was why Nussmeier was afraid to throw the ball any more. But this will have to be remembered as the worst called game since 2010.
Defensive grade: D+. Staunch and ferocious for one half, but inexplicably weak and sieve-y in the second half won’t do the job, and the Gators learned this the hard way. This Florida secondary, insanely talented as it may be, looked more comfortable talking trash than playing football, as evidenced by the numerous busted coverages that led to Tennessee touchdowns. And the defensive line, with all the talent there, mysteriously stopped getting pressure on Dobbs in the second half.
Special teams grade: D. Antonio Callaway may have been the hero last year, but he did not help matters this year. He tried to catch two punts inside his own five yard line, and I say “tried” because he dropped one of them at his own goal line to set up Tennessee at the 2. Amazingly, the Vols didn’t even score on that gift, so his bonehead mistakes didn’t even cost the Gators yesterday.
Bottom line: The streak may be over, but the season is not. Tennessee now has to play Georgia, Texas A&M and Alabama in the next three weeks. If the Gators win out and Tennessee loses two of those three games, the East goes to Florida. And realistically, winning out still looks very possible: LSU is a mess, Georgia looks beatable and Missouri has major problems on both sides of the ball. Only Arkansas on the road could be a problem, but if Florida finds a way to beat the Hogs in Fayetteville, they could find themselves back in Atlanta.
|FLORIDA||1st 13:35||DeAndre Goolsby 3 yd pass from Austin Appleby (PAT good)||7||0|
|FLORIDA||2nd 14:10||Jordan Cronkrite 3 yd pass from Austin Appleby (PAT good)||14||0|
|FLORIDA||2nd 5:12||Jordan Scarlett 1 yd run (PAT good)||21||0|
|TENNESSEE||2nd 2:39||Aaron Medley 28 yd FG good||21||3|
|TENNESSEE||3rd 7:29||Jalen Hurd 23 yd pass from Josh Dobbs (PAT good)||21||10|
|TENNESSEE||3rd :59||Ethan Wolf 20 yd pass from Josh Dobbs (PAT good)||21||24|
|TENNESSEE||4th 12:45||Jajuan Jennings 67 yd pass from Josh Dobbs (PAT good)||21||24|
|TENNESSEE||4th 11:48||Josh Malone 42 yd pass from Josh Dobbs (PAT good)||21||31|
|TENNESSEE||4th 8:27||Josh Dobbs 5 yd run (PAT good)||21||38|
|FLORIDA||4th 4:17||Freddie Swain 10 yd pass from Austin Appleby (PAT good)||28||38|