Tennessee showed promise early in the matchup against Florida as they connected on two explosive plays to jump out to a 14-10 lead, but they could not sustain the success.
I felt like Josh Heupel really schemed Todd Grantham up at times, two of which resulted in the long touchdown drives, but the Vols failed to execute on several other opportunities. Tennessee ran a simple mesh concept on fourth down and Jimmy Calloway was wide open in one of the game's biggest moments but dropped the pass. Tennessee had several other missed opportunities.
On the defensive side of the ball, you knew that Tim Banks was going to have to take calculated risks coming into this game, and he did. He drew up several exotic pressures that should have got to Emory Jones but the back end failed in their job before it could get home. Overall, Tennessee showed more promise once again on defense this week and that group is building momentum, although it needs more depth.
Penalties, Penalties, and More Penalties
Can't win out of conference games with penalties, and you for sure can't win SEC conference games with as many as Tennessee had today. Multiple penalties cost the Vols, and they were bailed out on another occasion by Alontae Taylor. Tennessee has to clean this up and in a hurry with two winnable games coming up on the schedule.
Hendon Hooker left the game with an injury, which opened a door for Joe Milton III to play, and this will likely result in more drama for Tennessee at this position moving forward. Hooker has shown that the job is his, and he did not cost the Vols anything tonight. Tennessee's offense did not look limited with him behind center, but he did not find much help from his receivers. This is once again another situation to monitor, but my instant takeaway on this is it's Hooker's job if he is healthy next week when Tennessee heads to Missouri.
Pretty simple. It had not been an issue until this week, but this is a reminder of how deep teams are in the SEC. Florida finally wore Tennessee down late in this one. Josh Heupel has to continue to recruit and get more quality depth in.
Tiyon Evans is a Rising Star
Evans showed why he was so highly touted out of Junior College. The previous Tennessee staff thought he was the best back in America and this staff thinks extremely highly of him. He proved to be a three-down back tonight, and I was pleasantly surprised with some of his work as a pass blocker. He also looked extremely confident running in between the tackles. I only expect his workload to increase as the season progresses.
As this article title states, Tennessee showed promise, but they failed to execute down the stretch. Credit that to a new staff, new system, first road game, lack of depth, better opponent, or whatever you want, but the Vols are still just not there yet, and it may be a while before they are. Josh Heupel showed why he is considered one of the best play-callers in the country, but he has to get his pieces in to succeed. Tennessee has two winnable games in their sight with Missouri and South Carolina both looming. This is a good measuring stick for how far Tennessee needs to go to compete in the SEC East, but they need to go take care of the winnable games ahead before hitting the tough SEC gauntlet after.