KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Florida quarterback Austin Appleby said in the days leading up to Saturday’s 38-28 loss to Tennessee that “all stadiums are the same.”
But Appleby, a fifth-year graduate transfer from Purdue, discovered that life on the road in the SEC might be a little different than the Big Ten.
Neyland Stadium’s capacity crowd of 102,455 erupted in the second half as the Vols (4-0) exploded for 38 unanswered points en route to the victory.
“I think it had a lot to do with their crowd,” Appleby said. “I think their defense and pass rush, especially, started feeding off of that.
“We still put up 28 in a hostile place. I’m proud of the way our guys fought.”
Appleby was 23 of 39 passing for 296 yards and three touchdowns with an interception.
But Florida did not get its initial first down of the second half until there was 7 minutes, 46 seconds left and Tennessee had taken a 38-21 lead.
The Gators went three-and-out all but one drive, when Appleby directed a 16-play, 86-yard TD march that provided the game’s final margin.
“Tennessee has a great defense,” Appleby said. “They did a really good job and we will be OK.”
Vols coach Butch Jones also credited the crowd.
“The crowd was into it, (and) we didn’t give them a lot to get excited about in the first half, but they stayed,” Jones said. “They were energized, and our players fed off of their energy in the stadium.”