Good on the Tennessee football players for not letting their own fans’ booing get to them. They came out swingin’ and the Gators… well, I’m not sure what they were doing.
It really was a tale of two halves. At halftime, Florida led 21-3; the Gators had racked up 300 total yards to Tennessee’s 162. Josh Dobbs had gone 7-20 for 84 yards and Jalen Hurd had been held to just 36 yards on 12 carries.
In the second half, the Vols held Florida to just 102 total yards while gaining 336 against the Gators’ vaunted defense, en route to scoring 28 unanswered points, plus another seven in garbage time.
This Gator fan was as shocked as everyone else.
How could this happen? Just a week ago, the Gators led the nation in total defense after allowing an all-time school-record low in yards allowed against North Texas.
Even worse, it appeared during the first half of play that the loss of starting quarterback Luke Del Rio didn’t hurt at all. Austin Appleby’s performance at quarterback was one of Saturday’s few bright spots.
In this situation, you have to blame the coaching staff – start with Coach McElwain and work your way down to the position coaches. There’s no excuse. Florida’s play-calling in the second half was pedestrian at best, with very few attempts to stretch the field. The offensive line, which appeared to finally be working as a cohesive unit earlier in the game suddenly couldn’t run-block or provide any protection to their quarterback.
And that defensive unit (parts of which were talking a lot of shit before the game) just flat-out quit. It reminded me and many others of the Gators’ bowl game against Michigan last year.
This team needs a kick in the ass. I hope this game was a wake-up call for the coaches and the players. Florida is talented enough to win almost every game on its regular-season schedule this year, even Florida State if it catches a few breaks. Will they respond? What’s it going to take?