The Florida football team is now faced with the adversity of having to replace their starting quarterback due to an injury. While Kyle Trask commanded the offense with precision and quick decisions against Kentucky, it will be interesting to see what happens against a Tennessee team coming off a lopsided win against Chattanooga.
The following are our staff predictions for the game:
This used to be such a meaningful rivalry. Every meeting between these schools carried SEC and national championship implications throughout the 90’s. Well, it’s still an important game, but it’s not the 90’s anymore. This is a UT program that still can’t seem to get out of its own way. They have some big receivers, especially Jauan Jennings that could create some potential matchup problems though. Florida’s Defensive front will need to help their secondary out, this week, by getting to Guarantano early and often. On the opposite side of the ball, Florida’s offensive line will show some improvement against a weak Volunteer defensive front, allowing Kyle Trask plenty of time to get the ball out to the Gators talented receiver corps. Emory Jones will add a new wrinkle for Tennessee to deal with and they haven’t handled mobile quarterbacks very well, so far this season. It’s a new year, but it will be the same result. Florida wins 35-21.
See Michael’s preview for this week’s game here.
Tennessee week has always been one of my favorite weeks in Florida football. It seems as though the story lines are always great — and this week is no different. Kyle Trask, known for his patience and precision, will be the first Gator wearing No. 11 to start a game under center since the 1960s when some guy named Steve Spurrier did it. Talk about some pressure. Nonetheless, I think Trask is as level-headed as they come and this game will be perfect for him to get his feet wet ahead of an intimidating schedule in October. Tennessee’s defensive line is… bad. Florida’s offensive line is… not great. However, I think the Gators upfront should be able to make a push for the running game, which has been nearly nonexistent so far this season. This should open up the passing attack and Kyle should be able to sit pretty comfortably in the pocket and get in rhythm so that he is able to do what he does best — sling it. Defensively, the Gators need to be better. And we all know that they are capable of doing that. I see them battling for four quarters and finally winning the turnover battle. Sorry Volunteers, but there’s too much to figure out this game. It’s going to be 60 minutes of pure gas as Mullen and staff experiments with what works and what doesn’t. 35-17, Gators.
Looking at the remaining schedule for Tennessee, I think they will be lucky to even win 4 games. The Volunteers opened the season with losses to BYU and Georgia State, and then managed to get in the win column with a brutal 45-0 beating on a weak Chattanooga squad. For Tennessee, this is their first SEC game, and they have not looked prepared for it at all, even Florida, who is rolling about backup QB Kyle Trask, is more prepared for the conference grind. The two most recent matchups between the two have been highly entertaining, with the Gators winning both, and I see no difference for this year. I am expecting Trask to really shine in his new role as starting quarterback, therefore I am taking the Gators, 27-14.
Throw out all the statistics, it’s rivalry week. And I’m not going to mince words here, I think Tennessee will leave Gainesville with a victory. Unlikely? Maybe. But let’s break down these teams, starting with the quarterbacks.
Jarrett Guarantano is undoubtedly more talented than Kyle Trask. If he can get rid of the ball quickly to mitigate Florida’s pass rush (which may be missing its leader in Jabari Zuniga) and exploit the UF defense with his legs, he will have a big day.
Volunteer running backs Ty Chandler and Eric Gray have rushed for a combined 5.2 yards per carry, while UF’s Lamical Perine averages only 3.5. The Gators are also missing a vital cog in the rushing attack with Feleipe Franks’ absence.
Florida’s corners will also have to deal with productive senior receivers Marquez Callaway in Jauan Jennings, but that may be difficult if Preseason First-Team All-SEC corner CJ Henderson doesn’t play.
But when it comes down to it, Tennessee needs this game more. It’s more than at risk of missing the bowl season, and the future of head coach Jeremy Pruitt is on the line.
We saw the Gators lose to an inferior opponent last year in Missouri, and this matchup smells similarly. With that, I’ve got the Volunteers, 29-24.
Tennessee football hasn’t been relevant in over a decade and UF has pounced, winning 13 of the last 14 contests between the two programs. Regardless, this is a big one for Florida. The Gators are working in a new QB and the schedule becomes a murderer’s row in October.
Tennessee has playmakers on the offensive side of the ball. WRs JuJuan Jennings and Marquez Callaway are extremely talented and RB Ty Chandler is averaging 5.9 yards per carry in 2019.
Florida will need to get on the scoreboard early and put any hopes of a UT upset to bed in the first half. It won’t be easy, but Florida gets the win, 31-17.
Florida and Tennessee are set for a 12:00 PM kickoff. The game will be aired on ESPN. You can follow @ChompTalk and @MikeyPfeffer on Twitter for live updates of the contest.
What are your predictions, Gator Nation? Let us know in the comments or on Twitter or Facebook.