GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Tennessee football will have its share of challenges today against a determined Florida team trying to avoid what would be its first 0-2 start since 1971.
The Vols (2-0) are a 4-point underdog to the Gators (0-1), a team they haven’t beaten at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium since 2003.
Florida has won 27 straight home-opening games, including six in a row at The Swamp against Tennessee.
Here are 5 keys to the game for the Vols:
• A fast start would give what has quickly become a very inexperienced Vols team much-needed confidence, while also helping to neutralize what can fast become one of the loudest, most intimidating football stadiums in the SEC. Tennessee has new plays Florida figures to see sooner than later.
• It all starts in the trenches, and life will be much easier for Tennessee if its able to win at the line of scrimmage. More time to pass means lower risk for interception, offensive push means backs get further downfield before first contact. Conversely, if the Vols’ D-Line can control the gaps it would force Florida into longer down-and-distance situations, and more predictable play calling.
• Junior Quinten Dormady has become known for his poise under pressure and calm demeanor, but he has yet to show his talents once plays break down. Dormady said he’s capable of scrambling for yardage or making throws off the run, if necessary. Jarrett Guarantano, inexperienced but more athletic, is in the bullpen.
• Kelly has gained 98 of his 208 rushing yards after first contact, and he has juked defenders into 11 missed tackles, according to the @CFBFilmRoom. Florida’s front seven, however, figures to be a significant upgrade from what Kelly saw against Georgia Tech and Indiana State. The Gators will key on Kelly, who also leads the Vols with 10 catches this season.
• Sounds cliche, but this is a team that must pull together against the odds, missing five key players to injury, on the road against a desperate rival, and playing a third game in 13 days. Tennessee won four of its first five games in 2016 after trailing by double digits, and the Vols were down 14 to Georgia Tech in the fourth quarter of their 42-41 double-overtime win.
Tennessee QB Quinten Dormady video