Troy Review / Tennessee Preview

It was a slow start and fast finish for the Gators as they overpowered Troy in the Swamp.  The play of both teams mirrored the dreary weather to start the game, with both teams putting the ball on the ground multiple times.  The Florida defense dominated all day, holding the Trojans to under 150 yards of offense.  It was when Tim Tebow found his rhythm and the O-Line started pounding away that the offense came to life, scoring 28 points in the 2nd quarter to end any suspense early.

The Gator defense showed more looks and blitzes than in the opener, but it was obvious that they could dictate the action all afternoon.  The secondary looked much better with Janoris Jenkins back in the lineup, and the D-Line showed a better pass rush and penetration vs. the run.  Both Demps and Rainey looked very good — Rainey really follows his blocking well.  Thompson finally started catching the ball, and showed why he can be the deep threat this year.  Hopefully he is healthy enough to play well this week.  Cooper was an animal again — he’s perhaps the best blocking WR in the country, and still fast as hell.  Once Tebow started running the ball and punishing defenders, the entire offense fed off the energy and blew Troy off the field.

Now it’s Tennessee week, and Lame Kiffen comes to the Swamp to get his comeuppance.  The Volunteers once again have a solid defense, but don’t have the depth and playmaking ability there that they have had in the past.  Eric Berry can’t play all 11 positions, and Florida should be able to scheme around him if necessary.  The formula still remains the same for Florida — pound away with a great running game featuring the best interior OL in the country, hit the edges on the speed option with Tebow, Demps, and Rainey, then hit the big pass plays to Cooper, Thompson, and Hernandez.  It’s too bad Hernandez is the only real TE on the roster this year, as the staff has to protect him somewhat to last through an entire season.  No one on the Volunteer defense can match up with him, unless it’s Berry or another CB.

Tennessee will start Jonothan Crompton at QB, and his confidence has to be in shambles.  Another desultory effort against UCLA, and the fans (and I think certain teammates) are questioning him openly.  The Vols have no downfield threats in the passing game, as their WRs lack elite speed, and their one true threat, Gerald Jones, is not 100% healthy.  Of course, they have nothing to lose in this game, and I have to think they gamble with some deep throws early and possibly often.  They still have a solid running game, with two good backs in Hardesty and Brown, but their OL has zero depth, and isn’t 100% healthy, either.  Is the game plan to somehow try and control the clock and keep Tebow and Co. off the field, or do they go crazy and open up the entire playbook?  Somehow, they have to protect Crompton better, but that’s going to be difficult against Cunningham, Dunlap, and Spikes, and a defense out to punish Tennessee.

There has been so much hype leading up to this game, mostly due to Lame’s big mouth.  The guy just doesn’t get it, and it’s already obvious to me that even when he tries to compliment another team, he doesn’t really mean it — just like most of what comes out of his pie hole.  Of course the entire fan base wants a 60-point win and to take out the Vols with extreme prejudice, but unless they completely implode and suffer a rash of turnovers, there is still too much talent and pride among their players to allow it.  I’ll be happy with a solid win with no major injuries……and at least one sign from Coach Meyer (a late time out or two?) that rubs Lame’s face in it.  Pounding away at them in the second half with the Pouncey twins, Carl Johnson, and a physical running game, in the heat and humidity, with Tennessee knowing it can’t compete or win, is satisfying enough.  There are plenty of big games coming up later this season, and there’s no need to show too much, even this week.

 Prediction – Florida 38      Tennessee 10

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