A Halftime Halt. An Intermission Meltdown. The Tennessee Volunteers struggled after the break in several Southeastern Conference games last season. After opening this season 2-0, Tennessee fell victim to another second half letdown last week. It’s safe to say the Florida Gators battling back from behind to beat the Volunteers after intermission left Tennessee head coach Derek Dooley restless. Then again, he’s experienced multiple second half letdowns during his tenure at the University of Tennessee. Tennessee owned a lead over Florida late in the third quarter. But the visiting Gators wouldn’t be denied. Florida owned the final 18 1/2 minutes, using a 24-0 run to pull away to defeat Tennessee 37-20. Leading to? Yes, yet another second half letdown.
Tennessee struggled the most with second half letdowns in the October portion of the 2011 season. The Volunteers fell to the LSU Tigers, Georgia Bulldogs, Alabama Crimson Tide and South Carolina Gamecocks in a four-game stretch last October. SEC opponents pummeled Tennessee in the second half last season, outscoring the Volunteers 139-42.
Last week’s second half letdown was similar to many of Tennessee’s turbulent third and fourth quarter combined efforts in 2011. Tennessee, which has shown the signs of being a much-improved football team, both offensively and defensively, managed to gain just 40 yards in the final 18 1/2 minutes versus Florida. The Gators, however, gained yardage frequently. Florida picked up 302 yards with under 19 minutes remaining in the SEC matchup.
In the last couple of seasons, Tennessee hasn’t been a second half team – at all. Since Dooley arrived in Knoxville in 2010, Tennessee has lost all 14 games in which it faced a deficit at halftime.
Earlier in the week, Dooley challenged his Tennessee team to refocus following the loss to Florida. With Terry Bowden’s Akron Zips coming to town on Saturday, Tennessee will look to avoid a second half letdown and fend off an upset-minded, high-powered offensive football team.