KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — After a demoralizing 49-10 beatdown at the hands of No. 1 Alabama, Tennessee no longer controls its path in the SEC East.
While Florida, who lost at Tennessee 38-28 last month, currently holds first place in the division, the Gators (5-1, 3-1 SEC) have a much tougher road to hoe over the rest of the regular season.
UF — with conference games away from home against Georgia, Arkansas and LSU — has the 7th-toughest remaining schedule, per ESPN.
Meanwhile, the Volunteers have the nation’s 77th-ranked schedule, so a potential rematch against the Tide is certainly not out of the question.
However, with a much-needed idle date, Tennessee is focusing on improvement and health — not revenge — right now.
“We’re not really focused on getting to Atlanta right now,” junior safety Todd Kelly Jr. said.
“We’re focused on the next opponent. I feel like this bye week will allow us to get our bodies healthy. We’ve played in seven games in a row, playing in the SEC that’s no joke. We’re going to take as much time as we can to get ready and prepare but at the same time it’s going to give us time to learn from this loss.
“We made a lot of mistakes out there whether its on offense, defense, or special teams and that unacceptable. We’re going to go in the film room and figure out what we did wrong.”
After the blowout defeat, star defensive lineman Derek Barnett said, “Season 2 starts after the bye week.”
The Volunteers will travel to South Carolina on Oct. 29 before playing two straight conference games at home.
”We’d love another shot (at Alabama),” tight end Ethan Wolf said.
“But the mantra that I and the rest of the team goes by is, `We’re not going to get there if we don’t start with next game preparation.’
“It may sound cliché, but you truly have to focus on one day at a time to get better and focus on one game. If we don’t come out and perform the next week, then that’s out of the question.”