Gators head coach Billy Napier paces the sideline during the second half of an NCAA college football game against Florida, Saturday, Sept. 17, 2022, in Gainesville, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

Gators Set to Take on Rival Tennessee

The 20th-ranked Gators Football team (2-1) hits the road to Knoxville, Tennessee, for their first road matchup of the season. Florida faces off against the No. 11 Tennessee Volunteers (3-0) on Saturday. Since 2005, the Volunteers have only one win against the Gators. Florida leads the all-time series 31-20.

Saturday’s game is sold out. The last time Neyland Stadium sold out was when they matched up against Ole Miss in 2021.

Gators Learn From Past Games

After two rough games against Kentucky and South Florida, the Gators come in as heavy underdogs.

According to head coach Billy Napier, even though the Gators have proven to be resilient, that is not what is going to help them win on Saturday. Napier said they need to execute better to create the plays that will benefit the team.

With linebacker Ventrell Miller questionable for the game, Florida’s defense is going to have to step up to stop Tennessee’s offense.

Safety Trey Dean III leads the defense with 30 tackles and the Gators’ defense has recorded four interceptions. In the game against the Bulls, linebacker Amari Burney had five total tackles and Dean had nine. Burney recognized where the defense lacked in tackles in that game and to prepare for the Volunteers, they watched film to learn more about technique.

As for Florida’s offense, they will be going up against a tough Tennessee defense that has made it hard for opponents to run the ball. Against USF, quarterback Anthony Richardson totaled 112 passing yards completing 10 passes on 18 attempts. In the Utah matchup, he completed 17 out of 24 passes for 168 passing yards. Over all three games, Richardson totals just 423 passing yards.

Look out for running back Montrell Johnson Jr., as he leads the team in rushing yards with 240.

Volunteers ready for a challenge

Tennessee head coach Josh Huepel and his team are currently undefeated going into Saturday’s game. This will be the Volunteers’ first SEC game and second Top-20 matchup of the season.

In their last game against Akron, the Volunteers’ offense racked up 416 total offensive yards in the first half. By the end of the game, they were at 676 total yards.

Quarterback Hendon Hooker has 844 passing yards on the year and in the Akron game, he threw for 298 yards. Running back Jaylen Wrights leads the Vols rushing attack with 231 yards on the ground and wide receiver Jalin Hyatt has a total of 267 receiving yards.

Looking at the Volunteers defense, the unit will need to seal gaps to keep Richardson from running the ball. Tennessee linebacker Aaron Beasley has a total of 22 tackles in three games. Elijah Herring has two sacks and the Vols have only allowed an average of 14.33 points per game.

Huepel thinks this matchup will be a great test for his team and present a challenge for the Volunteers.

Kickoff is set for 3:30 p.m. in Knoxville on Saturday.

About Molly Cooper

Molly is a fourth-year journalism major specializing in sports and media and working on a certificate in sports management at the University of Florida.

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