Florida plays rocky, still tops Tennessee 31-17

By Adam Silverstein
September 18, 2010

Head coach Urban Meyer improved to 6-0 against one of his team’s greatest rivals as the No. 7/10 Florida Gators (3-0) overcame a rough start to defeat the Tennessee Volunteers (1-2) 31-17 on the road at Neyland Stadium in Knoxville, TN, on Saturday.

Florida started slow in the first quarter when a poor snap by senior center Mike Pouncey on third-and-long forced the Gators to punt. On the next offensive drive, UF stalled after failing to convert a one-yard run on two consecutive plays, turning the ball over on downs on the Tennessee 46.

With good field position, the Volunteers took advantage of the miscue, drove 25 yards and allowed kicker Daniel Lincoln to curve in a 49-yard field goal to put UT up 3-0 going into the second quarter.

The Gators’ offense was kick-started on its next possession when redshirt junior wide receiver Deonte Thompson helped out redshirt junior quarterback John Brantley with a 16-yard catch for a first down on 2nd and 11. Freshman WR Robert Clark kept the drive alive with an eight-yard reception for another first down, allowing sophomore running back Mike Gillislee to score a touchdown from two yards out.

Tennessee was in the process of going three-and-out on its next drive, until junior cornerback Janoris Jenkins muffed a 43-yard punt giving the Vols the ball at Florida’s 40. However, sophomore linebacker Jon Bostic would bail Jenkins out four plays later, intercepting a pass from QB Matt Simms in the end zone on 3rd and goal.

Going into the half with a tight 7-3 lead, the Gators were hoping to dominate the second portion of the game just as they had their two previous contests. Things seemed to be going well early in the third quarter, when junior kicker Caleb Sturgis connected on a 44-yard field goal to cap a 10-play, 54-yard drive and give UF a 10-3 lead.

That advantage would be short lived as Simms found a wide open WR Denarius Moore for a 49-yard touchdown early in Tennessee’s next possession. Coverage of Moore was blown by redshirt sophomore CB Jeremy Brown, who gave up a 15-yard reception one play earlier and did not receive any help from junior safety Will Hill (starting his first game of the season) on the subsequent play.

With the score tied at 10 and the Gators on the verge of punting from their own 39, Meyer called a game breaking fake punt to turn the tide. Sophomore WR Omarius Hines took a direct snap 36 yards to the Volunteers’ 25, turning the game around. Redshirt senior Carl Moore made a leaping first down catch to keep the drive going, and Brantley competed a seven-yard touchdown pass to redshirt sophomore WR Frankie Hammond, Jr. six plays later to give the Gators a 17-10 lead.

“The momentum switched in this stadium. Once that momentum goes, it’s hard to get it back,” said Meyer after the game about the call. Hines noted the impact of the play to ESPN. “That was a big boost because we really needed that,” he said. “We were struggling in the first half, and I’m glad I could boost the team back up.”

Hoping to redeem himself for his earlier gaffe, Brown intercepted Simms on Tennessee’s next drive. Florida handed the ball back to Gillislee who, five plays and 41 yards later, tumbled into the end zone to give the Gators a 24-10 lead.

UF achieved back-to-back sacks on Simms courtesy of redshirt senior defensive tackle Brandon Antwine and redshirt freshman LB Jelani Jenkins, knocking the Vols back to the one-yard line. Though a safety call was overturned by video replay, Tennessee punted the ball to midfield. The Gators failed to capitalize as junior RB Jeff Demps was stripped by LB Austin Johnson on 2nd down, keeping the Volunteers alive.

Backed up with a 3rd and 25, Simms completed a 19-yard pass to WR Luke Stocker giving his team the opportunity to go for it on 4th down. Stocker’s reception became integral for Simms, who found WR Justin Hunter wide open in Florida’s end zone for a 35-yard touchdown on blown coverage by Hill.

With their lead reduced to seven, the Gators struck again on the very next drive. Thompson caught a 24-yard pass to get the series going, and Moore once again saved the effort by pulling down a 12-yard catch on 3rd and 9 at the Vols’ 27. From the Wildcat formation, freshman QB Trey Burton rushed for a two-yard touchdown four plays later to give Florida a 31-17 lead.

After struggling to get going, the Gators posted 317 total yards of offense, were 8-of-14 on third down and controlled the clock for 36:46. Brantley finished 14-of-23 for 167 yards and a score, Demps took a career-high 26 carries for 74 yards and Gillislee touched the ball eight times for 27 yards and two touchdowns. Thompson led Florida with four catches and 55 receiving yards.

Florida’s defense held Tennessee star running back Tauren Poole to 23 yards and a fumble (recovered by freshman S Matt Elam on 10 carries, but Simms did well through the air, going 19-of-31 for 259 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

The Gators hope to continue building momentum next week when they return home to take on the Kentucky Wildcats. Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.; the game will air live on ESPNU.

Game Notes:
– Five-star freshman defensive end Ronald Powell had the first sack of his career.
– Meyer is 6-0 against Tennessee in his Florida career.
– Meyer is now eight-for-eight in fake punt calls with the Gators.
– Hammond’s touchdown was also his first reception of the season.

Photo Credit: Mark Humphrey/Associated Press

26 Comments

  1. PGator says:

    While the defense had it’s ups and downs, I feel like the offense is being held together by twigs and glue.

    We’ve ran out of the I formation numerous times (all three games) this year but I have yet to see Brantley take a 3, 5, or 7 seven step drop while faking the hand off…. are we possibly saving this look for later in the season?

    Anywho, at least we won and UGA is 0-2 in the SEC.

  2. BosGator says:

    I was also happy with the run defense(23 total rushing yards), considering the tandem we’ll have to face in two weeks! Granted, these RBs aren’t at all comparable, but if Will Hill can get back into things our defense might be able to keep us in that game. (I’ll look ahead to the Bama game since the players can’t 😉 )

  3. Gatorbuc15 says:

    6 in a row!!!!!!!

  4. Joey says:

    PGATOR MAYBE THE UGA FANS WILL SHUT UP NOW!!!! but now we need them to win a couple BC i would hate to see richt fired I LOVE BEATING HIM

  5. GivingUp says:

    Screwed out of a clear grounding safety, bad special teams decisions, terrible o-line blocking and wrap it up with an inept offensive coordinator and we are at best a 3 loss team. Bama is going to make us their sluts in 3 weeks.!

  6. BosGator says:

    @GivingUp well I’m just glad you’re having a good time.

  7. Gatorbuc15 says:

    @Givingup: I think that your a Bama troll buddy.

  8. marriedagator says:

    Our offensive coordinator needs to go. Steve is incompetent. Our speed on the outside is our best weapon, but we keep running it up the middle. The dive plays were horrible enough last year, but this year they are frustratingly inept. More screens, quick outs, sweeps, tosses, pitches, please.

    I think play-calling is what allowed Alabama to roll all over us last year. It has us looking like chumps this year, despite all that raw talent and speed. Urban needs to start calling the plays, or replace Steve.

  9. John S. says:

    Winning ugly is still winning. This team has plenty of room to improve, but at least it has that potential. We may be pretty formidable by the end of the year. Very glad to beat the Vols 6 times in a row, good job Urban.

  10. Bazemore says:

    When are we gonna see Debose!

  11. g8ter27 says:

    Yes Bazemore I agree, I would like to see what he can do with the ball at least once o twice myself.

  12. SaraGator says:

    Is it me or is there a deafening silence on Debose? It’s as if he’s not on the team.

    Please, somebody, correct me if I’m wrong.

  13. scooterp says:

    Does anyone, who watched the game, really feel like it was even that close? Although we continue to shoot ourselves in the foot offensively, I thought the talent gap was obvious and we were never seriously threatened. The bland offensive playcalling and the poor execution to go along with it has been going on now since Mullen left for Starkesville and it is obvious where the problem is. I appreciate how ‘Daz held everything together in Urban’s absence, but the Oline play has now slipped since he’s been splitting time as the OC. I just hope Urban is not too blinded by his loyalty to Steve, that we have to watch another full season of one offensive disappointment after another. The whole College Football world knows we’re better than this, why can’t the coaching staff see it as well? ……….very frustrating.

  14. Wingtee says:

    Nobody suffers winning like Gator fans!!!!

  15. Luke says:

    Like Pat Dooley said, “Gator fans take winning the hardest of any fans.” It may have been ugly, but we had plenty of ugly wins over the past two years as well. I guess what continues to surprise me is the insistence on running Tebow plays with Brantley, the poor timing and seemingly out of sync passing game (how often did we hear about how the timing with the plays and receivers/QB was what set JB apart from Tebow during the spring and summer?), and the blown assignments by the secondary. They’ve managed to overcome each of those issues, except the poor play calling, but have started to spread the ball around and I thought the O made some clear improvements in the second half of the game. Side note: can we please stop running the shuttle pass every game and see some more play action? Ever since Tebow and Hernandez made that shuttle pass work, they’ve tried it mutltille times a game, even when it’s not a surprise anymore.

    BUT, that was a big win in a big time slugfest that will definitely help UF prepare for Bama. It will be a long season if the play calling doesn’t improve, but we’re getting there and I’ll take close wins on the road or at home in the SEC.

    I’ve said this to everyone that asks my opinion: this is what happens to a team when you have almost 100% turnover in the coaching staff in 3yrs (the bulk in the last two). I think Adazzio and McCarney are the only coaches who’ve been on staff since ’07. That’s got to be a factor here. As for Steve, there’s no way he’s replaced unless he leaves or if we finish a season with more than 5 losses. Neither happen in my opinion, so let’s sit back and watch the adjustments. There’s a reason Urban is the HC and that’s because he develops players and staff. There is a long line of coaches that have not been able to get their squad over the hump in recent years (M. Stoops, S. Kragthorpe, R. Shannon, Spurrier, D. Hawkins, B. Petrino, etc., etc.)… let’s be happy with 3-0 and watch the development.

    I thought we could be a two loss team this year and it still looks that way. If that’s a long season for me, I’ll take it. Hopefully, it’s only one loss, an SEC championship, and a BCS win!

    Go Gators!

  16. Mr2Bits says:

    I mentioned this yesterday but I am just not seeing it with Brantley. He just looks in over his head out there.

  17. Evan says:

    Another win! Woo!!!

    Can’t wait to drop in the rankings….again

  18. Daniel M. says:

    Luke, We have to establish the inside running game before play action will be effective. Sure Demps breaks off beauties but overall we aren’t getting much push up the middle.

  19. Wingtee says:

    Luke I don’t think we ran the shuttle pass vs UT

    for the rest of ya with your stupid comments about our team … Shut up , how many teams would love to be Gators

  20. scooterp says:

    I guess all is right, in wingtee’s world. Dope.

  21. Luke says:

    Daniel – You’re probably right. It just seemed like there were a few times when UT seemed to know we were trying to run between the tackles and some sort of play action or dump off would have worked. Obviously, I’m no O coordinator, but there was a pass play in the 4th when we lined up with two backs, faked a hand off, and passed to Hines, I believe, for a 3rd down conversion and it seemed like that would have worked at least once or twice more.

    Wingtee – It looked like they tried the shuttle to Hines but UT had it covered, so instead Brantley ran the option left and flipped it to Demps as he was going out of bounds because the defense also saw it coming. Again, I’m no OC, but that may have worked if JB was a running threat, but seemed like the call was way off for ther personnel.

    On the other hand, it was nice to see JB pick up 12 yards on the scramble early in the game.

    Games may be more stressful to watch this year, but if this is a team in rebuilding mode, we’re in for a treat the next couple of seasons (and hopefully as this one progresses).

  22. Wingtee says:

    Honestly it has not been pretty these last couple years but when you count it up it’s 29 – 2

  23. GG says:

    To be honest this looks more like a rebuild than a reload. Think we’ll be fine, next year.
    Very difficult to watch so far. Don’t think we can run Demps 20+ times a game, Moody hasn’t looked as good as advertised but do think Gillislee is a stud and needs to be starting bringing the other guys in to change it up.
    As good as Demps is don’t think he can take the pounding, when he gets hurt forget it, no breakaway threat that I can see. Can’t wait to see AD do something….what is going on there? Did he even play?

  24. Wingtee says:

    All is right in my world scooterpoop

  25. Drew 4 Orange & Blue says:

    I agree this offense is pathetic…to have weapons like DT, Hines, Demps and an experienced O-line and expecting Brantley to be ready to take control it’s really disapointing to see this offense struggle against average competition….knowing that when we go to Bama in two weeks that we have to put points on the board or we will not only lose but get blown out

  26. SC Gator says:

    Good lord you guys whine way too much

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