- Post-game audio slide show
- Vol Report, published Sept. 16, 2007
- Box score
- Watching with Ward: Review the game, play by play
- WVLT video: Highlights, player and coaches comments
- Stuck in the Swamp
- Special teams still not very special for Vols against Florida
- Adams: Tebow power drives Gators' show of force
- Untimely fumble opened the floodgates for Gators
- Pride takes a beating along with defense
Tennessee Stat Book
GAINESVILLE, Fla. - Tennessee came to Florida looking for a shootout Saturday and got one.
But some shootouts aren't fair fights.
While the Gators whipped out the heavy artillery, the Vols fired back with a pellet gun.
The resulting carnage was a 59-20 rout that goes down as the worst loss in the Phillip Fulmer era at UT. The previous worst was 31-0, also courtesy of Florida in 1994.
"Certainly,'' said Fulmer, "this wasn't representative of what we intended for it to be down here today.''
The 22nd-ranked Vols are 1-2, 0-1 SEC, and beset with questions as to where the season is going from here.
"We knew we had a tough schedule at the beginning of the season,'' said Fulmer.
"We've really got to look at ourselves, our players, our coaches, our leadership and go back to work.''
The fourth-ranked and defending national champion Gators are 3-0, 1-0 SEC, and look like they have enough big-play ability to carry a young defense until it gets up to speed.
A pair of sophomores, quarterback Tim Tebow and do-everything Percy Harvin, led an assault that accumulated 554 yards of total offense.
Tebow passed for 299 yards and two touchdowns and ran for 61 more and a couple of scores.
Harvin had four catches for 120 yards and 75 rushing yards on nine carries, an 8.3-yard average.
"This offense is fun,'' said Harvin. "Just throw it, catch it and run it.''
Tennessee's offense wasn't a barrel of laughs, producing only one touchdown.
That came when Erik Ainge passed 15 yards to Chris Brown in the final seconds of the first half.
Freshman defensive back Eric Berry accounted for the other touchdown with a 96-yard interception return.
Tennessee parlayed those two scores to cut a 28-6 Florida lead to 28-20 with 8:47 to play in the third quarter.
All of a sudden, it was a game again. And when the UT defense forced a Florida punt, it was even more of a game.
When UT took over at its 13, momentum was back in orange.
"We're talking about the next time we score going for two, and all kinds of scenarios,'' said Fulmer.
One scenario they weren't talking about was an Arian Foster fumble on a handoff from Ainge.
Florida linebacker Dustin Doe scooped up the gift and hustled 18 yards for a touchdown to make it 35-20.
"If we go down and score there it would be a different ballgame,'' said Ainge. "Obviously, that was huge.''
The final margin ended up huge as Florida scored the final 31 points of the game.
Harvin started the next scoring drive with a 49-yard catch to midfield after Florida started at its 1. He finished the 99-yard drive with a 19-yard scoring run on the first play of the fourth quarter.
On Florida's next snap, he caught a 48-yard bomb to set up Tebow's 5-yard touchdown run to make it 49-20.
Three Harvin touches: 116 yards.
Freshman quarterback Cameron Newton got the final Gator score on a 4-yard run with 1:14 to play.
The 59 points is the most allowed by Tennessee since Florida's 62-37 rout here in 1995.
Fulmer said he wasn't offended that the Gators didn't go into a shell after the victory was in hand.
"That's football,'' he said. "It's our job to stop them.''
It was UT's job to run the ball, but that didn't go too well, either.
The Vols' 21 rushing attempts netted 37 yards. So much for controlling the clock and keeping Tebow on the sideline.
Ainge was 26-of-41 passing for 249 yards.
"I don't think Erik ever got in a rhythm,'' said Fulmer.
Virtually all of his passes were short routes. While the Vols dinked and dunked, Tebow & Co. came at the Tennessee defense from all angles.
Eight different players carried the ball. The fruit of their labors was 255 yards rushing.
"We were in perfect position a lot of times and just didn't make the plays,'' said linebacker Ryan Karl.
"And when you don't make the plays when you can, it's going to be like this.''
Which was a lot like it was at Cal two weeks ago, only worse.
Missed tackles weren't the only similarity to the 45-31 loss on opening day.
In a case of deja vu, a Florida Field crowd of 90,707 was hardly settled in before the Gators had a 7-0 lead before their offense got on the field.
As was the case at Cal, Tennessee won the coin toss and elected to receive. The strategy backfired both times.
Cal scored first on a fumble return and later added a punt return TD. Florida did it the other way around.
"We cannot help good teams the way we helped Cal and Florida,'' said Fulmer.
Saturday, Austin Rogers dropped a third-down pass on the opening series and out came the punting unit.
Bam! Brandon James took Britton Colquitt's first effort 83 yards for a touchdown.
Still, Tennessee had a field-position advantage all through the first quarter - and managed to trail 14-3.
UT squandered a 74-yard LaMarcus Coker kickoff return when Ainge was intercepted at the Florida 9.
The Vols' next two possessions via Florida punts began at midfield. All they got to show for it was a Daniel Lincoln field goal.
"We give 'em those plays,'' said Ainge, "the special teams and a fumble, and then not getting points in the red zone.
"There were a lot of things we did that did not help us.''
Mike Strange may be reached at 865-342-6276 or email@example.com.