Sound Off: Florida football looks to open SEC play with win over Tennessee

After an impromptu week off as a result of Hurricane Irma, the No. 24 Florida Gators now head into SEC play against the No. 23 Tennessee Volunteers with all the questions that remained following their season-opening loss to Michigan. The offense didn’t get its pick-me-up game against Northern Colorado and quarterback Feleipe Franks’ second showing will be against a 2-0 SEC team instead of an FCS opponent. All in all, though, this is a highly important game for third-year head coach Jim McElwain and Co. The Gators can’t afford to start 0-2 and still feel confident about the road ahead. SEC Country writers Zach Abolverdi and Jordan McPherson discuss all of this and more in our latest Zaxby’s Sound Off.

  • Safety rightfully took precedence over football last week, evidenced by the Gators opting to cancel their home opener against Northern Colorado due to the impending threat of Hurricane Irma. The storm, which was a Category 4 when it began its path up the Florida peninsula, left more than 5 million Floridians without power. While Gainesville received minimal damage relative to the rest of the state, the city became home to people who were forced to evacuate and resources were stretched too thin to hold a football game last weekend. (2:00)
  • This week, however, Gainesville has more or less returned to status quo — and that means football will finally be played in The Swamp this weekend. Florida faces Tennessee to open conference play and looks to not only start off its SEC slate with a win, but also get payback for the loss in Knoxville, Tenn., last season. Tennessee won the game 38-28 — its first win in the series in a dozen years — despite Florida opening the game with a 21-0 lead. (5:10)
  • As far as the offense, all eyes will be on redshirt freshman quarterback Feleipe Franks. Franks started against Michigan and threw for 75 yards on 5-of-9 passing before being replaced by graduate transfer Malik Zaire in the third quarter. He had jitters early on — typical for a freshman making his collegiate debut in a stadium that packs 100,000 people — but also had some bright spots in his game as well. With the Northern Colorado game canceled, Franks’ second opportunity comes against Tennessee, and this will be a critical time for McElwain and the rest of the coaching staff to evaluate what the redshirt freshman can do. (7:30)