Tennessee found out the hard way last weekend. As a combined group, they’re nowhere close to program respectability along the college football landscape and pose no sort of threat in the SEC East. This was after Tennessee got rocked by Oregon 59-14 in the team’s first true road game. Tennessee scored first against Oregon on Saturday in the first six minutes, but didn’t score again until halfway through the fourth quarter. Everybody knows the only way to beat Oregon isn’t to simply outscore them. Tennessee was nowhere close of meeting the Ducks quota of 59 unanswered points, especially since the Volunteers final score in the game, came midway in the final quarter.
Thankfully for Tennessee, keeping up with an overpowering and change of pace offense won’t be the problem when they attend Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Week 4, Florida ranks 100th in the nation scoring after just three weeks.
Tennessee’s loss on Saturday was the worst in the program’s history since a 48-0 defeat of Mississippi A&M or Mississippi State now, back in 1910, according to ESPN.com. Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota passed for the third most yardages ever against a Tennessee defense, a career high for the Hawaiian in his second year at the helm in Oregon’s read-option offense. Mariota was clicking on all cylinders showing his arm, a total of 456 yards on 23-of-33 passes. The Ducks trailed 13-3 before scoring the game’s final 45 points in the last meeting between both programs in 2010. Until last Saturday, that 48-13 loss in 2010 was the last time Tennessee dropped a regular-season game to a non-conference opponent.
The first score by a connection from Mariota to tight end John Mundt set up seven straight trips scoring a touchdown for Oregon. Tennessee held Oregon to a field goal on the first drive, but when Oregon needed to find an answer they did. The big play ability of the Ducks offense was way too much for the Vols defense giving up 11 plays of 20 or more yards.
When it comes down to it, comparing Florida offense to the Oregon shown is a complicated proposition to say the least. Florida has given up 10 turnovers their last four games, maintaining a dominant defense and one of the worst offenses in the SEC for a second year in a row. The Gators’ centerpiece this offseason had to do with becoming more effective passing the ball and tightening down in the red zone, but the Florida offense that went spiraling out of control for most of last season has shown it’s ugly head again after a 21-16 defeat after the team’s first loss to Miami (FL) during Week 2.
Whether Florida offensive coordinator Brent Pease wants to honest or not, if you are any defensive coordinator out there playing Florida this season, you would be wise to carry an extra defender in the box, by attacking a Gator offensive line that’s gone through countless experiments, due to injuries. When Florida got themselves in the red zone at Miami, they just couldn’t capitalize. If Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel doesn’t force the issue twice in the red zone with interceptions, the Gators probably escape with a W netting two field goals. Driskel’s fumble in the shadow of Miami’s end zone proved to be the difference.
Tennessee, in simplest terms, will be able to pound it out with an Florida offense that generated five total touchdowns to defenses ranked in the one hundreds in total defense last season, Toledo at 113th and Miami, FL seating at 120th out of 124.
Florida’s offense averaged under 250 yards against South Carolina, LSU and Georgia last season. Tennessee’s defense has been opportunistic, forcing an average of three turnovers a game, five turnovers came by interceptions against Western Kentucky.
The season opener for the Gators was supposed to bring shivers down the average Gator fan’s spine after much improvement was expected from Driskel and others. At least Missouri and Eastern Washington deceive Gator fans playing the Toledo defense, both teams fell short of 400 total yards, while Florida looked like they had solved their problems getting 414 in the opening week.