Streak extended: Grier leads Gators to thrilling comeback win over Vols — 7 things to know

By Adam Silverstein
September 26, 2015

Florida Gators (4-0) football won an inspired game over the Tennessee Volunteers (2-2) on Saturday, picking up a come-from-behind 28-27 victory on the back of redshirt freshman quarterback Will Grier, who led the team to the Promised Land in the fourth quarter.

The Gators have now won 11 consecutive games over the Volunteers dating back to 2005, the last two contests by a single point. is here to break down the game, so here are six takeaways.

Oh my: Redshirt freshman quarterback Will Grier was shaky through the first three quarters but matured when it mattered the most, throwing two touchdown passes in the final 4:09 of Saturday’s game and converting three fourth down passes along the way. The first was to conclude a 17-play, 86-yard drive with Grier’s touchdown toss going to sophomore wide receiver Brandon Powell. The second came with less than 1:30 remaining as Grier hit freshman WR Antonio Callaway, who turned around and raced 63 yards for the game-winning score.

Grier finished 23 of 42 for 283 yards with two touchdowns and an interception, with the turnover coming on a heave near the end of the second quarter. Though Grier still has a ways to go, he proved that he is capable of coming through in the clutch and can be counted on when the going gets tough. Grier was also 5-for-5 on fourth down conversions in the contest.

It’s Tricky: Vols coach Butch Jones reached into his bag of tricks on Saturday – and it paid off. Tennessee coupled a double pass from its own 42-yard line in the first quarter with QB Josh Dobbs taking the reception 58 yards for a touchdown to tie the game. Later in the opening half, UT converted a 4th and 2 with a Tim Tebow-esque jump pass and used an eight-play, 84-yard drive to take a 14-7 lead. Dobbs was simply too much for UF to handle at times. The Gators’ awful tackling allowed him to take off on a 62-yard run later in the second quarter; the Vols wound up kicking a field goal and taking a 10-point halftime lead.

Have a day, kid: While the rest of Florida’s offense was below-average at best for most of the contest, junior running back Kelvin Taylor was the sole rusher for the Gators and performed to the best of his ability in the contest. Taylor broke off a 47-yard run early in the first quarter and scored a pair of touchdowns on the day, finishing with 102 yards on 19 totes.

Despite Taylor’s success, Tennessee easily outrushed Florida in the contest. The Vols’ had Dobbs (136 yards), RB Jalen Hurd (102, two touchdowns) and RB Alvin Kamara all find success on the day, nearly tripling UF’s rushing effort.

Receiving some praise: Grier peppered the ball around late in Saturday’s contest, and his receivers – though two of them had crucial drops in the game – rewarded him for the most part. Callaway made a number of clutch first-down conversions, picking up 112 yards and a score on five receptions. Powell also hauled in five balls (one fourth down conversion, one touchdown) and picked up 65 yards. Redshirt senior tight end Jake McGee showed up, too, moving for 57 yards on five receptions and making a couple clutch gains of his own. Even junior WR Demarcus Robinson got in on the fun with six catches for 48 yards.

All in all, it was good to see Florida’s playmakers … make plays.

Failures on defense: Florida’s defense was atrocious through most of the game. Though the Gators hit hard at times and were able to stop the run in key situations, they were unable to contain Dobbs in the first quarter, saw the secondary fail on some rare but crucial throwing plays and could not seem to tackle the Vols. Florida’s missed tackles were too numerous to count; they cost UF points and field position throughout the contest. Additionally, on Tennessee’s final scoring drive, the hosts allowed four third-down conversions.

The lone bright spot on the Gators’ defense was a forced and recovered fumble by redshirt junior defensive end Bryan Cox Jr., which led to a touchdown that put Florida in contention late in the contest.

Questionable coaching: While the majority of what went wrong for the Gators through most of the day dealt with execution, the coaches had their say in Florida’s failures. Head coach Jim McElwain failed to stop the game with a timeout for a crucial turnover early in the game. After a series of timeouts, he and offensive coordinator Doug Nussmier also called a questionable play on a 3rd and 3 that was an easy and necessary conversion for UF. The Gators were quite formulaic in their offensive play calling through the first three quarters, often following incomplete passes on first down with runs; the Vols picked up on this and snuffed them out over the latter half of the contest.

While the defense was able to contain Dobbs better in the second half, defensive coordinator Geoff Collins and co-coordinator Randy Shannon had no answers for Florida in the opening 30 minutes. A UF team that McElwain said was prepared for UT trickeration bit on it a couple times in the contest.

Pitt-iful: Senior wide receiver Latroy Pittman Jr., who committed a horrible penalty for the Gators in their last contest, was once again a liability for Florida on special teams. Pittman committed a block in the back penalty that negated a 63-yard punt return by Callaway and whiffed on blocks on two other occasions.


  1. Dave Massey says:

    Wasn’t pretty but it’s a win. I’ll leave it at that. Don’t know what was more enjoyable, the win or watching Jones and the FU Florida Vols fans look of disbelief! Lol.

  2. senuod says:

    Best comeback win eveeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeer….haha

    • Ken (CA) says:

      I wouldn’t go that far, but you may not be old enough to remember Auburn @ UF Auburn up 20-0 in 4th Qtr and Kerwin bell brought us back winning 21-20. I was in the stands for that game as a student, one of mostincredible games I was ever at.

      • Skydog7 says:

        I was there too Ken. Auburn was actually up 17-0 going into the 4th with Kerwin hobbling in on the 2-point conversion to win the game. At that point it was the loudest I’d ever heard The Swamp (which wasn’t even called that yet…)

        I would rank this up there as one of UF’s greatest comebacks for sure. Another #7 Jesse Palmer led a long drive to win in Knoxville in the late 90s.

      • senuod says:

        Ha, true. I may have been caught up in the moment, but that was undoubtedly high on the list in gator history.

  3. Spuntly says:

    Lots of negative stuff in this article for a victory over a good Tennessee team. I think it was a great had fought win for young team with a new coach. Taylor ran great. The only times he was stuffed was when we had two true freshman on the line or when UT stuffed the box. They knew Taylor was running on most of his attempts. UT D played well for the most part. Awesome come back for Grier. The future is bright!

    • The first three quarters of the game were pretty bad, no?

    • Ken (CA) says:

      Good? Improving yes, but not that good. 3 teams have lost a game going into the 4th quarter this year with at least a 13 point lead. UT has lost 2 of them.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      The line was very solid, and the freshmen did very well, especially Ivey. As Adam noted, it was predictable play calling that got him stuffed, not bad execution of the line.

    • Michael Jones says:

      I thought it was a really good college football game. We aren’t supposed to be that good this year. I’m really happy with the coaching and where we are right now as a program. I agree. . the future looks bright.

      Also nice to see the Miss St Mullens beat Auburn at Auburn. . . just sayin . . . 😉

  4. Michael Jones says:

    How are you experts feeling about Grier’s HS competition (that whole thing still cracks me up)? I guess it was good enough, huh?

    Now if we can just trick Demarcus Robinson into thinking that the goal line is a 3rd sideline . . . He made one of the best runs I’ve ever seen him make today running clear across the field (laterally, of course) in his desperation to reach the sideline without getting hit.

    • Ken (CA) says:

      lol I didn’t notice that particular play from him today. Most of his catches that he sidestepped out were legit.

  5. like rm says:

    Great win. Bad coaching.

  6. Ken (CA) says:

    I sure wish the defense would play fundamental wrap up football rather than going for the big hit or the strip, that would solve a lot of their issues.

    Very impressed with the comeback tonight aside from that. They do seem more disciplined in general, the o-line seems to be playing unexpectedly well which bodes well in the next couple of years as they get experience and depth.

    Snatching victory form he jaws of defeat was nice even if they made it an incredible nail biter. I have gotten so accustomed to Muchamp’s horrid choices and the team’s horrid execution I just kept expecting the collapse, but these kids never gave up and always believed, even with horrid play calling. Grier is the real deal and is going to be great in coming years as well.

    Next 4 weeks will be very challenging, but if they improve execution, and the defense chooses to do what is known as “letting the game come to them” rather than trying to force the issue, take what is given to them, then should go 2-2 at worst in next 4 weeks, and actually could come out of that gauntlet very well.

  7. john wolfe says:

    At least the Gators are 4-0, so when they lose the next 4 straight, they’ll at least be 4-4

  8. John says:

    Great win by the Gators but we should’ve known we would have trouble stopping the run. That’s what happens when you play a base Nickel D and taking a linebacker off the field for a cornerback is a big difference to stop the run. I have full confidence in getting the miserable tackling fixed and if we can get some linebackers back our D will continue to be one of the best in the nation!

    • Ken (CA) says:

      I don’t think the D schemes were an issue. We blew up most of the running plays in general. It was primarily going for the highlight hit or yank the ball loose rather than fundamental wrapping up. Ole Miss didn’t look great yesterday. If the defense plays fundamentals, we have a solid chance in every game in the upcoming stretch.