A hideous win over the Miami Hurricanes by the Florida Gators have Tennessee football fans thinking they can win. This shouldn’t encourage the Volunteers.
Saturday’s opener to the 2019 season had the ugliest game ever between the Florida Gators and Miami Hurricanes. Florida won 24-20, overcoming four turnovers thanks to Miami fumbling a punt and missing a chip shot field goal. Both teams tackled horrible. And Tennessee football is one of many SEC teams now finding Dan Mullen’s team all of a sudden beatable.
Don’t count on it. Even if you think Feleipe Franks is mediocre, and even if you think the offense isn’t taking off like it should have in Mullen’s second year, the Vols still almost have no chance of beating the Gators in The Swamp.
Sure, nothing’s impossible. But the weaknesses that seemingly exposed Florida Saturday, by the way in an opening game, will not be the weaknesses the Vols can exploit to win. In fact, the way Florida won Saturday is Tennessee football’s kryptonite.
Florida sacked Miami 10 times and had 16 tackles for a loss. That by itself is how they won the game. Want to know what the biggest concern for the Vols is entering the season? It’s the offensive line, just like it was last year.
If the Gators can do that to the Hurricanes, why can’t they do it to the Vols? Sure, Miami lost three starters up front. But Jeremy Pruitt’s team was historically bad there last year, and to avoid getting wrecked by a Todd Graham defense, they need to have a historically great improvement up front this year.
It’s hard to believe that will happen, even if they improve. We might want to add that Jarrett Guarantano’s mobility is nowhere close to Jarren Williams’s, so things could even be worse when UT heads to Gainesville.
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Meanwhile, although Florida averaged less than two yards on the ground, they only allowed one sack. Franks already has a history of torching UT through the air when he has time. His line was facing what should be a very good Miami rush and was decent, even if it was horrible run blocking.
Tennessee football’s defensive line, on the other hand, is as much of a concern this year as the offensive line for different reasons. It was the Vols’ strongest unit last year but they have to replace all three starters.
Their only returning contributor, Emmit Gooden, is lost for the season, and Michigan Wolverines transfer Aubrey Solomon is still waiting on an NCAA eligibility waiver he may never receive. So the Vols may have to open SEC play against Florida with a brand new line full of guys with no FBS experience. That is not a good situation to be in.
Simply put, there are too many factors in play to believe Florida is beatable for the Vols now. One way to look at what happened Saturday is they overcame four turnovers. UT couldn’t overcome six they committed last year in this game, and they are 1-13 in the last 14 games. So they may very well pull off the upset. But nothing about Saturday suggests that.