Rainey storms No. 16 Gators past Vols 33-23

By Adam Silverstein
September 17, 2011

In a game filled with mistakes and miscues, redshirt senior running back Chris Rainey‘s 212 yards of offense and a raucous crowd at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium proved to be too much for the Tennessee Volunteers (2-1, 0-1 SEC), which fell 33-23 to the No. 16/17 Florida Gators (3-0, 1-0 SEC) in Gainesville, FL on Saturday.

Florida defeated Tennessee for the seventh-straight season in front of a sold-out crowd of 90,744 fans in The Swamp, a venue the Volunteers have not won at since 2003.

Rainey, who ran the ball 21 times for 108 yards and caught two passes for 104 yards, earned a touchdown on an 83-yard reception in the third quarter to help complete the first 100/100 game of his career. He also blocked the fifth punt of his career early in the second quarter, setting an all-time school record in the process.

The Gators began the contest by scoring 16 unanswered points. Sophomore running back Trey Burton caught a one-yard pass from redshirt senior quarterback John Brantley for the team’s first touchdown, completing a nine-play, 80-yard drive that opened the contest.

A 17-yard reception by redshirt senior wide receiver Deonte Thompson was followed by a 28-yard rush by senior RB Jeff Demps to set up the score, and Brantley went 5/5 through the air on the drive. He also completed his first eight passes of the game.

The Volunteers responded with a long drive of their own, but a missed 37-yards field goal by Tennessee kicker Michael Palardy gave the ball back to Florida. The Gators put together a 12-play, 68-yard drive as a response but failed to get in the end zone, settling for a 28-yard field goal from redshirt junior K Caleb Sturgis.

Florida also struggled with two short field opportunities, again settling for a pair of field goals in the second quarter. After Rainey’s blocked punt, the Gators ran a four-play drive that did not gain a yard; following a punt from the Vols’ end zone, Florida went just six yards in four plays and allowed Sturgis to put one through from 46 yards out to take a 16-0 lead with 8:31 remaining in the first half.

Volunteers signal caller Tyler Bray threw the first of his three touchdowns in the second quarter via an eight-yard strike to Marlin Lane to complete a six-play, 89-yard drive just under two minutes before halftime.

Leading 16-7 heading into the locker rooms, Florida hoped to regain their offensive momentum and stall the newfound success Tennessee found on that side of the ball.

[EXPAND Click to expand and read the remainder of the Florida-Tennessee game story.]Following a pass interference call that helped the Vols continue their touchdown drive, Gators junior safety Josh Evans sought out to redeem himself and did just that, nabbing an interception on Tennessee’s first possession of the second half.

Rainey took his second hand-off of the drive 14 yards and drew a late hit penalty to put the ball in the red zone. Florida chipped away at the yardage before handing the ball to Burton for his second score of the day, a one-yard touchdown run on fourth and goal.

The Volunteers punted on the next drive, giving the Gators the ball on their own 20 after a touchback. Rainey lost three yards on a carry to the right side to start the series but caught from Brantley over the middle which he took to the house for his 83-yard score, putting Florida ahead 30-7 with 8:08 to play in the third quarter.

Down 23 points, Tennessee felt the pressure and began to chip away at their deficit. After the Vols punted yet again, Demps fumbled the ball on a rush up the middle and UT took advantage with a 14-yard slant from Bray to WR Da’Rick Rogers for a touchdown.

A holding penalty on the ensuing kickoff forced UF to start at their own 10. Two short rushes and a pair of incomplete passes led to a punting situation, which senior David Lerner shanked just 22 yards to the Gators’ 31-yard-line.

Bray saw an opportunity and, even though his offense was backed up following a bad snap, completed consecutive 18-yard and eight-yard passes, the latter of which found the end zone for his second touchdown of the afternoon.

With Florida starting to see their lead slip away, Gators offensive coordinator Charlie Weis relied on Rainey to bring the ball down field. UF’s speedster touched the ball seven times on Florida’s 12-play, 50-yard drive, which resulted in a 42-yard field goal by Sturgis, his fourth of the game.

The Volunteers would not go down without a fight. Tennessee started the next possession at their 40-yard-line, and Bray threw eight passes on nine plays, totaling 54 yards through the air (60 total) and ending the series with a 18-yard touchdown pass.

Getting the ball back with 1:49 to play, the Vols again tried to make a move. After moving the ball 39 yards to the Gators’ 45-yard-line, Bray threw his second pick of the game to sophomore safety Matt Elam.

Florida’s defense, though it nabbed two interceptions and registered three sacks on the afternoon, failed to convert a number of major opportunities and was easily the most penalized unit on the field.

Redshirt sophomore linebacker Jelani Jenkins, who had six tackles and a sack on Saturday, dropped two potential interceptions and committed a pass interference penalty. Freshman cornerback Marcus Roberson, the victim of two pass interference calls and a holding penalty, also failed to catch two balls that hit him in the hands.

Evans, sophomore CB Cody Riggs and freshman S De’Ante Saunders also committed pass interference penalties, giving the Gators six total. As a team, Florida committed an astounding 16 miscues for 150 yards, significantly more than Tennessee, which was also mistake prone with 10 penalties for 94 yards.

The Gators outgained the Vols by 68 yards but committed penalties that provided opportunities for UT to continue drives that otherwise would have fallen short. Florida held Tennessee to -9 rushing yards, but UT outgunned UF 288-213 through the air.

Brantley finished 14/23 for 213 yards and two touchdowns, while Bray completed 26-of-48 passes for 288 yards with three scores. The latter was intercepted twice but had falls find his opponent’s hands quite often throughout the contest.

Heading out of Gainesville for their first road game under head coach Will Muschamp, the Gators will face the Kentucky Wildcats in Lexington, KY. The game will air live at 7 p.m. on either ESPN or ESPN2.

Photo Credit: John Raoux/Associated Press[/EXPAND]

8 Comments

  1. Ken (CA) says:

    wow, that game was as tough to watch as most games last year. shoulda been up 28-0 at the half at least. 23 points could easily have been another shutout without the penalties, turnovers giving them short fields.

    Seens like we are still struggling with our pass rush, even when we know they are going to pass, and our running game is not the power running game Weis was looking for, I am sure.

    On the bright side, though, at least it was a W and USC and UGA both look vulnerable. The defense was awfully good even with all the penalties. No one is going to run on us much this year. I think Lattimore and Richardson are going to have a tough time I think.

    An interesting stat I saw on ESPN: It was Florida’s longest pass play since Danny Wuerffel and Jacquez Green hooked up for an 85-yard score in 1996.

  2. SC_Gator says:

    Pass rush was fine. PI worries me but some of that was youth and some was damn ticky-tack on the part of the refs. It’s the failure to score TD’s that worries me, though Sturgis starting the year a perfect 9 for 9 is awesome.

  3. John S says:

    Great win coach. Bray has talent and we did a great job holding him off. He was helped by tight officiating in the secondary. I wish they would have been so tight with the UT offensive line. You take out the penalties and we crushed them.

    Sturgis was terrific and Rainey is a stud. Brantley did well, and Burton is for real. Unfortunately Deonte continued to lose the 1 on 1 battles. I guess that’s why we don’t go deep that often.

    7 straight wins feels great…excellent work team…Go Gators!

  4. Tractorr says:

    That was perhaps the best QB that Florida will face in the regular season and the secondary had troubles but ultimately held it down. Although the pass rush didn’t net many sacks they were putting pressure on Bray which is why he threw so many bad passes.

    The offense is still a work in progress.

    Kentucky shouldn’t be too much of a problem and then we find out what this team is really made of.

  5. ncgator says:

    Rainey and demps are so fast it’s unbelievable. Those two guys can beat and FAU, ALA-B and a Tenn 9 out of ten times. That being said, THEY are the offense. Charlie is keeping brantley on a very short leash because his accuracy beyond 10 yards still sucks. 15-30 yard passes are few and far between and rarely on the money and the down field threat is non-existent.
    Bama, LSU and even Georgia will stop those guys if a mid-length and deep pass doesn’t develop. I hope Charlie is working hard with dunbar and hammond and maybe story because Thompson remains horrible and Dubose can’t get thru a game without an injury.
    The defensive line and linebackers look tough against the run but the DB’s and safeties were hanging-on (literally) for dear life. I understand they’re freshmen, but everyone better get ready for that backfield to get smoked against quality receivers. I ‘m having fun right now, but seeing all the deficiencies on both the O & D are going to give me the creeps when the meat of the SEC come to town.
    go gators

  6. Basshole says:

    I agree with the comments about our DBs being a concern, but as someone said above, besides Murray, Bray is the best QB we will see so I’m hoping we’ll fare better against other teams. Our front seven seems to be solid so hopefully they will help the backfield

  7. Jesse C says:

    Granted, the secondary is a concern. But the lack of plays involving the WR’s and more players in general is more of a concern. We will play much better defenses than UT, much better RB’s than Poole and much more experienced QB’s…. ones that have beat us. Garcia may not be great but neither was gator-killer Rix. Murray and Manuel are good. LSU & Bama don’t need good QB’s to be dominant. That said, before the season started, I thought we may not win this one, so I am happy with the outcome. As long as this team continues to improve, we may surprise some of the better overall teams and get to Atlanta. Go Gators!

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