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By: The All Vol Call in Show Staff


Well, we're here. We've made it to conference play, and there are still a lot of question marks surrounding a lot of teams out there. Tennessee didn't look great against Austin-Peay. Was some of this by design, or were the Vols just having an off-day? Does the sluggishness carry over into the next game against Florida, or have we yet to see what either of these teams truly look like?

The answer to all of these questions, and more, lies in The Swamp.

John Dunn

Founder, Managing Director, Producer, Host

A good portion of the fan base has certainly changed their tune since Tennessee took on Austin-Peay last Saturday. It's hard to blame folks. Tennessee did not look the part of a top-10 team. There were miscues galore, especially in the passing game. However, there are still some positives to take away from the game. They won the game, avoided major injuries, didn't show much of the playbook (if any), played very well (again) on defense, looked serviceable on special teams, and carried the ball well. The Vols didn't look superb but neither has Florida. In a week one match up with Utah, the Gators looked absolutely dreadful. Against McNeese State, Graham Mertz looked better with his accuracy, but still only managed less than 200 yards and a single touchdown.

This is indicative of how I expect Florida to play offensively. I expect the Gators to try to beat the Vols on the ground, and control the time of possession, limiting the amount of offensive possessions Tennessee will have. I also expect Florida's defense to focus more on the rushing attack of Tennessee, and force Joe Milton to beat them over-the-top with his arm. Can he do it? Yes, he can. This one will be a lot closer than what people want it to be, but the Vols get it done.

Prediction: Tennessee - 35 | Florida - 31

Dallas Bowlin

Senior Staff Writer, Junior Editor, Content Manager, Co-Host

The vibes going into this game aren’t as high as expected, largely due to the struggles against Austin-Peay. However, this Florida team isn’t the same Gators that college football fans are accustomed to. To be blunt, they’re poorly coached. Nevertheless, they are still better than Virginia and Austin-Peay. Winning in The Swamp won’t be a walk in the park. Joe Milton needs to be accurate and take care of the football.

It would also be great for Dont’e Thornton to have his breakout performance, showcasing why those who watched him in practice this off-season raved about him. Josh Heupel has earned the benefit of the doubt. The Vols will win a closely contested match.

Prediction: Tennessee - 28 | Florida – 20

Jake Hubbard

Senior Staff Writer, Content Manager, Co-host

There are a lot of questions surrounding Tennessee’s offense heading into this match up with Florida. I have had time to sit and think about this past weekend, and I trust in Josh Heupel until he gives me a reason not to.

This will be a make-or-break game for Joe Milton, in my opinion. I am still team Milton, but the leash is short. I think Tennessee throws the ball downfield a little more this game but at the end of the day I think that Tennessee will. dominate the run game. I’m cautiously optimistic, but the streak is going to end on Saturday.

Prediction: Tennessee - 34 | Florida – 21

Trevor Shelby

Senior Staff Writer, Junior Editor, Content Manager, Co-Host

Last week was disappointing to say the least. That said, the mediocre showing against Austin-Peay gave these Vols a chance to get in the film room, talk about the mistakes they made, and work out some kinks on the practice field. A players-only meeting was held to discuss the standards and expectations going forward. I expect a much different-looking team in Gainesville, Florida on Saturday.

Joe Milton and the receivers have probably spent most nights after practice working on routes. Willie Martinez has drilled it into the defensive backs’ heads that they need to turn their heads around. With Graham Mertz as his starting QB and not a soul that he could call an impact player on defense, Billy Napier has his work cut out for him down in the Swamp this year. Tennessee needs an impressive showing to get that terrible taste out of their mouths. I’m not sure how hot Napier’s seat is, but I expect Josh Heupel and the Big Orange to put another nail in his coffin.

Prediction: Tennessee - 35 | Florida - 21

Jordan Moore

Junior Staff Writer

If you would have asked me last week to predict this game, I would have taken Tennessee by at least 10 points, but I can’t get last Saturdays game against Austin-Peay out of my head. Every concern I had about this team going into the 2023 season showed up. We all know the history of this rivalry, especially in Gainesville. Tennessee has had the better team at least a handful of times since 1990 & found a way to lose. In this year’s game Tennessee has the better coach, the better roster, & they are favored. They should win this game, but I don’t trust Joe Milton has “it” to win a game like this.

This offense has been nowhere close to clicking like it has under the first two years of Josh Heupel. This is a career defining game for Bazooka Joe. If he plays well and leads the Vols to a big win: he instills a ton of confidence with the team, the coaching staff, and fan base. If he plays bad: the offense struggles to score and the Vols ultimately lose. If so, it could very likely be the last start Joe Milton makes in his football career. At the end of the day, I have to see it to believe it when it comes to Tennessee winning in the Swamp.

Prediction: Florida - 27 | Tennessee - 23

Zac Strickland

Junior Staff Writer

The Gators program has been on wobbly footing for several years now but has still been tough for Tennessee to beat even in their weakened state. If the Vols are to exorcise their Gainesville demons, they need to keep the Florida offense in obvious passing downs. This will allow the pass rush to work its magic against a suspect Florida O-line, as Utah did in week 1. Gators QB Graham Mertz is liable to make the occasional bad decision as well, and the Vols must make him pay double if he does.

Offensively, questions linger about the passing game after last week’s lackluster performance. The chemistry and timing between Joe Milton, the receivers, and O-line seem to still be a work in progress. I don’t think Joe needs to match Hendon Hooker’s 349 passing yards from last year to win. However, if UT can only complete passes at or behind the line of scrimmage, this game will be tough to win even if the run game continues to be good.

Ultimately, I trust the Josh Heupel offense to get things figured out at least enough to outscore Florida. Much of what the Gators did last year to hurt Tennessee was predicated on the abnormal athleticism of Anthony Richardson, which Mertz simply cannot replicate. Barring a defensive letdown from the Vols, one touchdown per quarter (28 points) from the offense will likely be enough to win this game. It may be too close for comfort, but I think the Big Orange will have enough juice to squeeze by in the Sunshine state.

Prediction: Tennessee - 34 | Florida - 23

Joe Davis

Junior Staff Writer

The Gators rebounded last Saturday against "Lake Charles Junior College", better known as: McNeese St. While McNeese is academically top 100 in America, they're not top 100 in football, so it's difficult to glean anything from this win. But the Gators didn't sleep walk though it (looking at you Vols) so that can be said positively.

Tennessee, meanwhile, is 2-0 having walked over Virginia and slept walk past a high energy Austin-Peay team with a "gimmicky" up-tempo offense. Watching the Vols closely, I have questions in the passing game. Can Milton regain the accuracy downfield that was shown at the end of last season? Why hasn't he had the opportunity to really show whether he can or not?

How conservative has the Vols offense been through two games? If it was a skirt they would approve of it at BYU.

Regardless, if Tennessee opens the playbook, it still remains that receivers need to make plays and Bazooka Joe needs to give them a reasonable opportunity to do so. The Vols have been questionable on the road the last couple seasons and going into the first road game of the year is not the way to answer the questions of being a road team and whatever is going on with the offense. The Gainesville hex lives on as the Vols lose a close one.

Prediction: Florida - 30 | Tennessee - 24

Darrell Winstead

Junior Staff Writer

It’s been 20 years since the Tennessee Vols have gone on the road and beat the Florida Gators in the Swamp! Florida leads the all-time series 31-21 and has won 16 of the last 18 match ups. The Vols won last year's game 38-33 and are looking to start a streak of their own. Tennessee rolls into Gainesville ranked 11th in the country with a 2-0 record, while Florida (1-1) plays the part of host. Not only has this game historically been one of college football’s biggest games each season, but it’s also had its fair share of stars. From Doug Dickey, Steve Spurrier, and Phillip Fulmer to Danny Weurfel, Peyton Manning, and Tim Tebow, this series has been full of star power.

Fast forward to this Saturday and while the names may be different, the importance of this game for both teams is as big as ever. This time it’s the Vols who are the nationally ranked contender and the Gators who are rebuilding, but this game has had some weird results over the years. Such as games played in monsoons to last-second game-winning scores. This series truly has had just about everything happen. Tennessee comes in averaging 39.5 points per game on offense, and their defense, which leads the nation in both TFLs (25) and sacks (11), only allows a stingy 13.0 points per game. Florida enters the match up averaging 30.0 points per game on offense and allows just 15.5 points per game.

No matter what the stats show or the star power on the field, all bets are off when it comes to this series. Tennessee will lean on their run game led by Jaylen Wright, who has 233 rushing yards (2nd in the SEC), and Jabari Small (162 yards), while Joe Milton III is under center. Florida has their own duo of RBs in Montrell Johnson (125 yards) and Trevor Etienne (109 yards) with a new QB in Graham Mertz who transferred in from Wisconsin. The x-factor for me will be how well the Vols' talented but young defense can handle the atmosphere on the road and the expectations that everyone has for this team. I believe they handle it just fine.

Prediction: Tennessee - 36 | Florida - 25


Tennessee wins by 16 points 40-24


Tennessee win by 35 points

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