Thursday, September 24, 2015

The Streak Must End

10 years. You're probably getting sick of hearing it -- I know I am -- but that's how long it's been since Tennessee has beaten it's biggest rival in the Eastern division of the Southeastern Conference. They've had their chances. There have been many close games but Florida just seemed to have Tennessee's number. Well guess what? I don't believe in any of that shit.

Last year people said, "If Tennessee is going to beat Florida, this is the year." and it was true. There really is no valid excuse for losing to an abysmal football team whose coach was soon to be fired for being so awful especially with a 9 point lead in the 4th quarter. Butch Jones has since said that that game was the lowest point of his coaching career. I'm glad he feels that way.

Once again, one year later, pundits and talking heads are saying "If Tennessee is ever going to beat Florida, this is the year." Jim McElwain's offense may work out for Florida eventually but the talent level on that side of the ball is not good right now and probably will not improve enough for Florida to have any success this year in the SEC.

However, Florida's defense has had success this year having given up only 256 yard of offense per game including only 55.3 rushing yards average. Granted those numbers are somewhat skewed by an ECU game which saw ECU having much success through the air without the presence of Vernon Hargreaves III, who was nursing a knee injury, to the tune of 346 passing yards, but only accumulating -13 rushing yards for the game. But guess what, Florida hasn't seen an offense like ours, nor a rushing attack like ours which is ranked second in the SEC with 738 yards rushing.

On paper this is a game the Vols should win. Florida hasn't faced a defense like they will face Saturday and they only managed 14 points vs. a Kentucky defense which still is enduring growing pains. But as we all know and have seen, painfully at times, football is a game played between the hash marks and anything can happen on any given Saturday.

There is a great breakdown of Florida's offense and it's limitations here that you should definitely check out. An Inside Look at the Gators' New Look Offense

I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Florida will be without Jalen Tabor who is their second-best lockdown corner and Treon Harris who is their only other competent QB other than Will Grier. If something were to happen to Grier, the next in line is Josh Grady who flamed out at both QB and WR at Vanderbilt and could not beat out any of the lousy QBs Vandy fielded last season. Should Grier go down, their chances of winning this game drop to nearly zero.

So it's prediction time and I've given this game much thought in advance of predicting a score, I do not see a high scoring game and if I were a betting man I'd take the under at 48.5. Both defenses will make it hard on the offenses to score. It may be the homer in me though I try and take emotion out of the picture and make realistic guesses. I say that we win this game 20-10 with a modicum of confidence.

Should we lose though (and it wouldn't be that shocking) Vol Nation will be unbearable. Many will call for Butch's head. We will hear about the awful play-calling (strange that few complain about play-calling when it works.) and fans will demoan the hiring of Mike DeBord.

Win this one because you can, Butch. It's not only the most important game because it's the next game. It's the most important game because of 10 years of Vol fans' suffrage.