The Nathan Peterman era had a clear beginning and end on Saturday.
Peterman, named the starter two hours before the game, struggled early and was yanked at halftime as the Florida Gators won 31-17 over the Tennessee Volunteers in an ugly game.
The game featured eight turnovers and neither team’s offense looked very impressive. Both teams finished the game with a different quarterback than they started with.
Jeff Driskel, the Gator’s starting quarterback, went down with an injury in the first quarter after he threw an interception that Devaun Swafford returned 62 yards for a touchdown.
Tyler Murphy stepped in for Driskel and shredded the Vols for 79 rushing yards on 23 carries.
Tennessee had some momentum early, after Swafford’s pick-six, but turned the ball over on three consecutive possessions. It was abundantly clear early that Peterman wasn’t the Vols best option. Butch Jones came out with Justin Worley in the second half and although the offense got into more of a rhythm, you can still tell that Worley isn’t the guy either.
Peterman finished his day 4-of-11 for 6 yards and two interceptions, while Worley completed 10 of his 23 passes for 149 yards, a touchdown and two interceptions.
The Vols never got their ground game running and Rajion Neal received the bulk of the carries. Neal finished 42 yards on 12 carries. Marlin Lane received only five carries and managed only 16 yards.
Neal ran hard, but the Gators’ defensive front was too much for the senior running back to overcome.
There were some encouraging signs for the Vols. Tennessee’s defense played well early, but was on the field way too long to keep up a high level of play.
Brent Brewer was particularly impressive, making some nice open field tackles.
The Vols biggest struggle on defense was protecting the edge. Everytime Florida broke a run to the outside, it seemed like it went for a first-down.
Another bright spot for the Vols was seeing Pig Howard and Marquez North show up in the box score. Howard finished the game with four catches for 75 yards and a touchdown. North added four catches for 43 yards and one rush for nine yards.
The Vols should get back above .500 next week with a game against South Alabama at home. Then the schedule gets brutal — Georiga and South Carolina at home, followed by Alabama on the road.