Florida indeed has a four-headed monster at running back. The group rushed for 250 yards against North Texas. With that performance, the offense has logged 225-plus rushing yards in consecutive games for just the second time since 2010. It’s a good thing they had it rolling on the ground, because their passing game wasn’t the same without Antonio Callaway. Quarterback Luke Del Rio left the game with a left knee sprain and will miss 2-3 weeks. Backup Austin Appleby led the offense on a pair of late scoring drives, but the Gators left a lot of points on the field Saturday with failed red-zone trips.
Florida’s defense through the first three games has been nothing short of speculator. UF pitched its first shutout under defensive coordinator Geoff Collins and gave up the fewest yards (53) in school history. The Gators are now ranked No. 1 nationally in several defensive categories: total defense, scoring defense, sacks, opponent first downs and opponent long scrimmage plays. They also rank No. 2 in passing and rushing defense. Florida hasn’t faced any offensive juggernauts yet, but that won’t start against Tennessee. The Vols rank 101st nationally in total offense.
Special teams: B
Eddy Pineiro made his one field goal attempt and Johnny Townsend averaged 55 yards per punt. The Gators once again had little production in the return game, but they were without Callaway on punts and had a new kick returner in wide receiver Chris Thompson.
The defensive game plan was phenomenal, and the Gators effectively ran the ball on offense. The play-calling was questionable in the red zone, and maybe Pineiro should have attempted another field goal or two. But Jim McElwain wanted to his players to line up on fourth-and-short and power their way past the chains. It just didn’t happen.
The Gators should’ve beaten this team 51-0, but Del Rio & Co. did not play as sharp as they did against Kentucky and the offense stalled in the red zone. UF can’t afford to miss scoring opportunities like that on Rocky Top. But with the way Florida’s defense is performing, points will be hard to come by for the Vols.