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Five Takeaways From Florida's Victory Over Tennessee

The Gators showed how far apart the two programs are with a 38-14 win over the Volunteers.

The Florida Gators bounced back from a sloppy first half to put together a dominant 38-14 win over the Tennessee Volunteers. 

The win marked the Gators' 16th victory in their last 17 tries against the Volunteers.

Fans were frustrated with a shaky start, but the Gators righted the ship in the second half. The Gators got back on track with two scoring drives out of the half, and never looked back from there.

It was a win that showed just how far apart these two rivals truly are.

Here are five takeaways from the up-and-down performance.

Florida Had A Slight Alabama Hangover

Letdowns happen to a lot of teams after playing Alabama close, and Florida got bit by it on Saturday. The Gators came out very sloppy in the first half and kept Tennessee in the game at the start.

Tennessee scored on their second drive on a 47-yard screen pass on third down that could have been blown up, but Amari Burney missed a tackle allowing JaVonta Payton to score.

This was only the beginning of the tackling issues on the night for Florida.

The Gators' second series on offense was stalled out by a false start and a delay of game on back-to-back plays, leading to a field goal.

On the Gators' third offensive series, they ran a screen to Trent Whittemore on 2nd and 10. Whittemore seemed to have space to run, but a missed block by Richard Gouraige turned it into just a four-yard gain.

The Gators would come up empty on the drive, and Tennessee would take the lead on their next drive with another big play for a touchdown.

Right before the half, the Gators converted on 4th and 2 on a 17-yard pass to Jacob Copeland. The play would have set the Gators up in the red zone at the 17. However, Copeland was stripped and Tennessee recovered. 

Up 17-14 at the time, it seemed like a really good chance for the Gators to put the Volunteers away.

All of these mistakes let Tennessee hang around just a little bit longer than Florida would have liked. The Gators entered the half with just a three-point lead, and a lot of it was by their own doing.

If Florida let Tennessee hang around any longer, they could have been in real danger of an upset. Instead, the Gators cleaned things up in the second half - winning the last two quarters 21-0.

Florida's Defense Made A Lot Of Mistakes

Two big plays from Tennessee played a huge part in keeping Tennessee in the game in the first half.

The missed tackle by Burney was one of them, and the other was a major coverage bust that led to a big touchdown.

Mordecai McDaniel was caught in nowhere land and JaVonta Payton ran free down the sidelines. Hendon Hooker hit him in stride for an easy 78-yard touchdown that gave the Vols a 14-10 lead.

At that point, the Vols had touchdowns of 47 and 78 yards, but just 56 combined yards on their other 14 plays.

There were too many missed tackles, and a couple of other coverage busts that could have bit the Gators with better throws from Hooker.

Tackling has been a major problem at Florida for far too long, and it is one of the biggest issues the team has to clean up moving forward.

A lot of their mistakes did not come back to bite them, but against better teams, they very well could have. They will have to get things cleaned up if they want to make noise in the playoff picture this year.

A positive for Florida was the defense was better on third down today. They held Tennessee to just 5-13 on third down, including forcing three three-and-outs in the first half.

Emory Jones Is Getting Comfortable

This was by far the best performance of Emory Jones's career in a Florida uniform.

Jones went over 200 yards passing and 100 yards rushing, becoming the first Florida quarterback to do so since Tim Tebow's final home game against FSU in 2009.

It was also the first time Jones has gone over 100 yards rushing in his career at Florida.

Jones was efficient, completing 21 of 27 attempts for 209 yards and two touchdowns and running for 144 yards on 15 carries, he went through reads, showed great pocket presence, and extended plays with his legs all night long. 

He showed that he is still an electric runner and definitely has the ability to push the ball down the field with his arm.

Most importantly: The redshirt-junior did not turn the ball over. It was his first game without an interception this season, and it went a long way in helping the Gators to a great offensive performance.

Jones has looked extremely comfortable since his interception in the first quarter against Alabama, and part of that may be not having Anthony Richardson breathing down his neck.

Richardson did not play again on Saturday, and Jones took advantage. He may have even asserted himself as the starting quarterback in Gainesville with his performance.

It will be interesting to follow his performance and the quarterback situation once Richardson is healthy enough to play.

The Gators' Running Attack Is Special 

One of the biggest storylines entering the game was Florida's rushing offense going up against Tennessee's rushing defense.

Florida entered the game with the second-ranked rushing offense in the country; Tennessee's rushing defense was ranked fifth.

The Gators put that storyline to bed early, rushing for 104 yards in the first half and 283 yards total. The Gators' rushing total was more than five times the average amount of yards (54.3) that Tennessee had been allowing entering the game.

The three-headed monster of Malik Davis, Dameon Pierce and Nay'Quan Wright ran rampant again Saturday and none averaged less than 4.5 yards per carry.

The three backs mix extremely well together, and all of their skill-sets seem to complement each other perfectly - Wright's explosiveness, Davis's shiftiness, and Pierce's power seem to combine in complete harmony.

Wright shows home run ability, as displayed by his 23-yard touchdown run. He burst to the second level with ease, cruised around a few defenders, and walked in untouched to the end zone.

If their performance against Alabama was not enough proof, the Gators showed once again that they can run on anybody in the country this year.

Dan Mullen's ability to adjust to his personnel can never be understated, and the way he has transformed his offense year-over-year is nothing short of incredible.

These Teams Are Very Far Apart

Tennessee has long been one of Florida's greatest rivals, but that may soon be a distant memory.

The Gators now lead the all-time series 31-20, have won 16 of the last 17 meetings, and have not lost to the Volunteers at home since 2003.

Florida showed how far ahead of Tennessee they are as a program on Saturday, and it was clear as day on the field.

Steve Spurrier and the 1995-96 Gators took the field Saturday night to be recognized. Those are two of the teams that went 4-0 against Peyton Manning, and it's starting to feel like this rivalry may be based more on history than hatred.

It also feels like that was the last time this rivalry truly meant something.

There was a big-game atmosphere in The Swamp, but it just did not quite have the intensity of past games against Tennessee. Florida seems to have picked up bigger rivals - LSU comes to mind - and may have left the Volunteers behind in the process.

It has been a long time since Tennessee - and not Georgia - was the team Florida had to get through in order to make it to Atlanta.

It may be even longer before that becomes reality once again.

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