KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — If you get the feeling that you haven’t seen the best of what Tennessee football can do, the Vols players have news for you.
Tight end Jason Croom said No. 14-ranked Tennessee (3-0) has only shown “glimpses” of the team it can be heading into Saturday’s 3:30 p.m. showdown with No. 19-ranked Florida (3-0) at Neyland Stadium.
“We’re putting everything together,” said Croom, who emerged last week with three catches for a career-high 54 yards in the 28-19 win over Ohio. “We’re right where we need to be.”
Quarterback Josh Dobbs has said it’s exciting to be unbeaten and know the team hasn’t played its best football.
“From our end, we have to go out and play a 60-minute game, a full game, and play at a high level throughout the game,” Dobbs said at Tuesday’s press conference in the Ray and Lucy Hand digital media center.
“Our whole team is locked in on focusing on what we can do to have a successful game,” he said. “It’s preparation time right now, and when game time comes, it’s going out and executing what you’ve been working on in practice.”
Redshirt junior defensive lineman Kendal Vickers said the Vols are aware of the series losing streak against the Gators.
“Of course, it’s 11 games, I’d be lying if I said we didn’t think about it,” Vickers said. “Every day we’re trying to be a better team. We come into the week and we know it’s Florida, we know they’re our rivals and we pretty much don’t like each other.
That makes it fun when you get on the field, we can compete and try to end that streak.
“We have a bunch of confident guys on our team, so I don’t think there’s any mental edge anywhere. I just think we just have to go out and execute.”
Florida’s offensive line is by far the biggest the Vols have faced averaging 6-foot-5 and 325 pounds across the front.
Tennessee coach Butch Jones said its a downhill offense that comes right at you, and the Gators are one of only four FBS teams with three backs with at least 160 yards rushing and one touchdown.
Vickers said the Vols are not scared of the challenge.
“We don’t get intimidated,” Vickers said. “The D-Line, we know what we can do, and we don’t let anybody intimidate us.”
Kahlil McKenzie, who has been a bit of a disappointment through three games of his sophomore season with only four tackles and no tackles for loss or sacks, said the Vols aren’t worried about the game or losing streak.
“It (losing streak) is always brought up every year, someday says something about it, but we’re not worried about it, we’re worried about what we can do this week and what we can do to change it,” McKenzie said. “That’s the mindset of the team, we’re never satisfied, we know we need to fix things and we continue to fix those things.”