Tennessee football vs. Florida: 10 keys to the game for Vols and Gators

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Usually you throw everything out the window when Tennessee football plays the Florida Gators. No, that doesn’t mean what it typically means, the idea that you throw everything out the window because anything can happen in a rivalry. In this case, you throw everything out the window because Florida wins no matter what.

There are general factors in play when the Vols face Florida, but all the negative factors for UT are magnified while their positive factors, and Florida’s negative factors, become minimal. As we get set to break down what’s crucial to this game, the Vols again have factors that could cost them.

That comes despite Rocky Top being a double-digit favorite, being undefeated and playing at home while Florida is undergoing a new head coach. You can never trust the Vols in this game and always trust the Gators. With that in mind, here are the 10 keys to this week’s game between Tennessee football and Florida at Neyland Stadium.

Here are the things that will determine who wins the Tennessee football Volunteers’ opener.

Tennessee running back Jabari Small (2) is down during Tennessee’s football game against Akron in Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, Tenn., on Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022.
Kns Ut Akron Football

10. Health of Vols’ weapons

Florida is probably more banged up and has less depth, so the injury front in general should favor the Vols. How much it favors them, though, is up for debate. Two of UT’s key offensive players left last Saturday’s game against the Akron Zips in the first half and never returned: Jabari Small and Cedric Tillman. Those are huge weapons.

Now, Rocky Top has backups in both spots, as Jaylen Wright can handle running back duties while Bru McCoy and Ramel Keyton can take over at wideout. However, Small and Tillman still bring unique skills to the table. Lucky for Josh Heupel’s team, Small was able to practice Tuesday.

If only one of them can go, Small is probably the better option. Tillman is the bigger weapon, but the Vols are deeper at his position. With Len’Neth Whitehead out, Small is the only running back built for the short-yardage power runs. As a result, Tennessee football probably needs him on the field, but Tillman’s clutch gene is crucial too.

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