Florida (3-0) vs. Tennessee (3-0)
Notes: Florida has won 11 straight games against the Volunteers. Since 2011, the average margin of victory has been 9 points per game. However, the last two games have been decided by a total of 2 points. Florida quarterback Luke Del Rio will not play in this game due to a knee injury suffered against North Texas last week. Austin Appleby will get the start on the road in Neyland Stadium.
The Gators will be starting Austin Appleby in replace of Luke Del Rio in this game and hope that the Purdue transfer’s experience will carry them to the road victory. Appleby played for the Boilermakers but lost the starting job to David Blough. Look for Jim McElwain to get Appleby involved early off of the play action passing game with short to intermediate throws to gain confidence and get into a rhythm.
The offense is averaging 33 points per game and has been very balanced rushing for 202 yards on the ground and passing for 264 yards through the air this season. Del Rio was having a solid season completing 61% of his passes for 762 yards with 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions. The offensive line which was a concern entering the ear has gelled in the first half of the schedule and looks to be a strength entering this game with Tennessee.
Running backs Jordan Scarlett, Mark Thompson and Lamical Perine have been solid pounded the rock between the tackles. Each player is averaging over five yards per carry with Scarlett leading the team with 175 rushing yards with 2 touchdowns.
Wide receivers Antonio Callaway and Brandon Powell will be critical for the Gators to get the road win and keep the streak alive. Both players have the speed to take the top off of the defense and made big plays in last season’s home victory in the Swamp. Both players have combined for 27 receptions for 337 yards with 4 touchdowns.
Defensively, the Gators will look to their top ranked defense to keep them in this game and force Tennessee quarterback Josh Dobbs into mistakes.
Florida is allowing 4 points per game to opposing offenses and has been excellent in run support giving up 47 rushing yards per game. The secondary is yielding 87 passing yards per game and the unit is allowing opposing offenses to convert on 19% third down conversions on the season.
The front seven has been great and has recorded 16 sacks through 3 games (5.3 sacks per game) and must be able to contain Dobbs in the pocket.
Entering this game, the Gators are +3 in turnover margin.
The Volunteers are averaging 33 points per game and have been a run heavy offense averaging 189 rushing yards per game. The Volunteers have failed to stretch teams vertically and are averaging 162 passing yards per game.
Quarterback Josh Dobbs has completed 60% of his passes for 486 yards with 6 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. Dobbs is critical to the success of the offense on Saturday night and he must be able to attack the secondary with intermediate throws to loosen the front seven of Florida. The offensive line has allowed 7 sacks this season and must protect Dobbs against a physical Gators front seven.
Running back Jalen Hurd leads the team with 270 rushing yards averaging 4.1 yards per carry with 2 touchdowns. Hurd is tough inside runner that had success last season against the Gators and will look to start fast at home in Neyland Stadium.
Wide receiver Josh Malone leads the team with 9 receptions for 196 yards with 4 touchdowns and has been Dobbs’ main target. However, the Gators will most likely double team Malone in this match-up and force Dobbs’ to read through his reads and progressions to make throws.
Defensively, the Volunteers are allowing 18 points per game and have not looked good in being able to shut down the run. On the year, the defense is allowing 152 rushing yards per game and is giving up 184 passing yards to opposing offenses. Tennessee has recorded 3 sacks through the first three games and must get more pressure on Appleby making his first start for the Gators. They cannot allow him time to survey the field and get comfortable.
Tennessee is +2 in turnover margin entering this game.