The Volunteer Road to Gainesville

I would say for most Vols fans, beating Florida makes up for all the shortcomings of the 2019 season. A road rivalry win is something that can undo a lot of hate and question marks for this program.

We all know the history of the 2000s and Florida looks at this game as an automatic W. BUT, it’s funny how a chain of 3 events on Saturday led to a slight change in the “Tennessee can’t beat Florida” perspective. 

  1. On Saturday, we saw a Tennessee team that looked ready to play, offensively and defensively. JG looked good and I think Saturday solidified why he is the starter. (I will get into the QB stir in a bit.) And defense shut a team out and caused 5 turnovers. 
  2. BYU beat a ranked USC team in Provo. Personally I think that USC is meh, at best. But, It’s still a significant win for the Fighting Mormons and it goes to show that loss doesn’t look too bad. 
  3. Felipe Franks gets hurt. To the broad fan base, this seems like Florida opening the gate for the Tennessee upset train to storm through. But, to some, this is terrifying considering the history of the Vols vs. Backup quarterbacks. 

We knew coming into the UTC game, the narrative on the season wouldn’t change despite the score. If Tennessee blows them out, that is what they are supposed to do. If they were to barely win or Heaven forbid lose, then “They are who we thought they were!”

Now, 45 to 0, that’s good to see, no matter who you play. This Vols team did a lot of the things you are supposed to against an FCS opponent: force turnovers, move the ball efficiently with your first team, and put up 40+ points. 

5 turnovers was a beautiful thing to see. Good to see running-linebacker Jeremy Banks get 2 picks. Now we see we he changed over to defense based off Pruitt’s best line of the weekend: “Good running backs make the first guy miss.” Which Banks was tackled by the first guy on his first INT.

Also, thanks to the UTC long snapper for showing that anyone at any position can have a bad day when put on the big stage. That poor guy had a rough day. He helped Tennessee rack up 2 blocked punts and Brandon Johnson running one of those back for a TD.


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Onto the quarterback talk. 

  • SHROUT: If you are still a believer in Shrout to start, go home you’re drunk. You can see Shrout has an absolute cannon, but he has no idea where it’s going.. He was off target or didn’t have patience on most of his throws. 
  • MAURER: The Maurer situation is a little different. He went 0 for 2 on his throws, but Tennessee completely changed their offensive game plan for him to utilize his athleticism. I thought the offense looked fine when Maurer ran the read option. Just not sure that is the formula to carry this team to greener pastures. 
  • Guarantano: JG showed that if want a chance to win, he’s our best. I get it, after the BYU game and his gun shyness, it’s tough to stay on the JG train. After seeing the efficiency Jarrett had going 7 for 8, 142 yards and 3 TDs, it is hard to deny he is the guy for Tennessee. 

After seeing the passing game look efficient and the ground game continue to move, this Vols’ team has at least have a little bit more confidence heading into The Swamp Saturday. 

Establishing the run on this Florida defensive line, is the key to beating the Gators in The Swamp. The Florida front 7 has looked good. And the Tennessee offensive line has been, ummm ok… 

The Tennessee offensive line and running backs have to have the game were they are in perfect harmony. We have seen the ground attack really flourish against BYU. Need a repeat of that, and then giving JG time. 

JG will have to have his best game on Saturday. Whatever fears he has taking chances, have to go out the window. Callaway got his first TD of the season and Jennings continues to pile them up. So your receivers are there and are confident, Jarrett just has to find them against a decent, but not outstanding Florida Secondary. I know they got 3 picks last weekend, but still saw Kentucky move the ball through the air early.

Defensively, the Vols have to attack Trask. No surprise in game QB switch this time. Tennessee has an entire week to study film Trask’s little tendencies. Kentucky sat back in coverage a lot more when they were up instead of pressuring the redshirt Junior. When they did pressure, I felt like Trask struggled. So Darrell Taylor, time to have “That Game” for your career. To’o To’o just has to continue to be a stud and keep the Gator lackluster rushing attack at bay. 

I really despise Gainesville, it is just a hot, mossy, and overall ugly place. I ventured down to the Swamp for the Justin Hunter injury game in 2011. And that will be the first and last time I go to that place. Being the only Vols fan inside the Blue and Orange McDonald’s is also a terrifying situation, for any person. I have never felt more hated in my life, and I just came to get some cheeseburgers… 

This week can change a lot for this program and it’s future. I believe a win in Gainesville for Pruitt and company makes up for the blunder week 1. There needs to be shift in hope for this program and this is the perfect opportunity to move that back in the right direction. 

Your Overly Emotional Fellow Vol Fan, 

Chase

 

Thanks for reading guys and gals. Stay tuned every week for these “Overly Initial Reaction” articles. I’ll be bringing you all the same slightly regrettable reactions and words we all have during Tennessee Vols games. 

And also check out my newest podcast The Revolution Network for a group of best friends and their weekly recaps of all NFL and NCAA. Future guests in the works and gonna be a fun podcast future.

Picture from: The Gainesville Times.