Photo Credit: Alex Shepherd
The No. 11 Florida Gators (3-1, 1-1) took down the Tennessee Volunteers (2-2, 0-1) 38-14 tonight in a game that Florida needed to show off its dominance within the SEC East.
While the first half of the competition left much to be desired from Florida's perspective, the second half of the game was much better, with Florida showing off why it will be one of the teams to beat this season in the Southeastern Conference.
Florida announced its attendance for tonight's game at 88,478. While it wasn't quite as many as last week, The Swamp was still rocking as Tennessee would have trouble hearing during the second half of the contest.
The Gators would begin the third quarter up just 17-14 over the Volunteers, needing to execute on offense, according to head coach Dan Mullen, interviewed by ESPN at halftime.
Well, the team did just that, executing a smooth six-play, 78-yard scoring drive that ended in the team's most creative trick play of the season, a double pass from QB Emory Jones to receiver Trent Whittemore to tight end Kemore Gamble for a 13-yard touchdown. With the team up 24-14, they wouldn't look back.
It was clear that Jones was comfortable during the day, completing 18 out of 21 of his passes for 182 yards and two touchdowns. One of the touchdowns would come with just over two minutes remaining in the third quarter, a nine-yard strike from the redshirt junior to sixth-year receiver Rick Wells.
Jones would finish the contest 21-27 for 209 yards and two touchdowns. He ran for 144 yards on the day.
Through three quarters, Florida would lead the Vols 31-14, a showing that many expected from the Florida football program heading into Saturday.
It would be Jones' best showing this season, with the redshirt junior rushing for 144 yards on the ground, throwing for 182 yards through the air. The QB looked calm, cool and collected as he was able to take control of the Florida offense, leading his team to victory.
While the Florida defense appeared to get caught sleeping during the first half of action, it was able to settle down and recover during the second half of the contest, shutting out the Volunteers.
On the day, Florida allowed 358 total yards, allowing just three of its 11 third downs to be completed. Tennessee had just 97 yards in the second half before some garbage time plays with a minute remaining. The Volunteers never entered the red zone during the contest.
Offensively, while Jones was clearly the most valuable player today, Florida was able to assert its dominance on the ground outside of its QB too, running for 283 total yards, with 139 of those yards coming from Florida running backs.
This was a bread-and-butter game for Florida, using its players to do what it needs to show throughout the season, a ball-control team that can have explosive plays when need be.
While Florida will have to figure out some of the issues on defense, especially tackling and staying in a position to make plays, the Gators shouldn't exit this game with their heads down.
Florida will now travel to Lexington next week to take on the Kentucky Wildcats (4-0, 2-1), a game that will allow spectators to get yet another close look at the 2021 Florida football team, and another chance for the team to build momentum into its late October matchup against the No. 2 Georgia Bulldogs.