Tennessee at Florida: Writing is on the wall for Vols

Charlie Daniel draws UT vs. University of Florida, Sept. 17, 2011.

Photo by Charlie Daniel

Charlie Daniel draws UT vs. University of Florida, Sept. 17, 2011.

Game preview: Tennessee vs. Florida

Know your Vols: Media Day smacktalk

Tennessee vs. Florida week - 2011

Tennessee reported back to work and every player was handed a pen.

The Vols weren't taking a test on Sunday when they rolled into the weight room just hours after posting a dominant non-conference win. They all knew one was coming at the end of the week anyway, one that would really establish what kind of grade they might post on the field this fall.

There were no right or wrong answers, and UT wasn't necessarily hoping for a theme to develop in the responses.

All it wanted to know was what the next game meant to the Vols. And while they've each tried all week to prepare as if it's just another of many to them, the wall in the weight room helped make clear that a trip to No. 16 Florida on Saturday (TV: WVLT, 3:30 p.m.) matters a little more.

"Everybody was writing different stuff," senior linebacker Austin Johnson said. "What it meant to them, how every drop of sweat in the weight room would be poured in for that game, and I think that's great.

"It kind of creates some hype."

The Vols (2-0) have been able to largely manage those emotions during a business-like approach to practice as they prepared for the start of conference play, but there's also been a realization of what could be on the line against their divisional foe.

That showed up on the mirror as well, with one defensive lineman writing about the chance to play for an SEC Championship.

Another veteran who grew up cheering for the Vols pointed out the current six-game losing streak to the Gators (2-0) as a motivating factor.

Johnson indicated he jotted down the core principles of the program under Dooley, stressing the need for discipline, effort and toughness against a team he's never been able to beat in his career.

And while each individual might have had something different on their mind, that certainly doesn't mean the Vols weren't all sharing a common goal. A win on the road, against a ranked opponent and a rival at that, could put UT back on the national radar after spending the last few years outside of contention for any titles.

The trick is dialing up a big-time performance and creating a buzz without putting too much extra pressure on the team, a balancing act that can get difficult when the stakes start to go up.

"I think a mature team can recognize the difference," Vols coach Derek Dooley said. "It doesn't mean you don't play as well as you're capable of in the other games, but certainly it's an important game. If you're ever going to be a championship contender, you've got to be able to go down and beat your East rivals. That's just the way it is.

"I think there's a recognition of that, but I'm always cautious to say it's so much more important than any other game. But it is, it's a little elevated from the standpoint that this is a team that has dominated the SEC in the 2000s, it's an East team that we haven't played well against the last six times. So, you know, I hope we can elevate our game."

The inability to do so against the Gators has been well documented lately, and UT will also have to take its game to another level after two relatively easy victories to open the season.

The Vols were largely aware of that fact on their own, turning their attention to Florida and what has widely been termed "big-boy ball" as soon as the victory over Cincinnati last week was clinched. But just in case, they were given a chance to illustrate the difference themselves in writing.

"You're not trying to create gimmicks," Dooley said. "But every week as a head coach you're trying to figure out, 'How are we going to get our guys psychologically ready to play?'

"We do stuff every week, not gimmicky and that kind of stuff, but there are a lot of different things you can do to try to motivate and focus guys to go out there and play well. It's hard, it's probably the hardest thing to do as a coach is get a team to play their best for 12 games."

For now, the Vols are only focused on doing it once.

Austin Ward covers Tennessee football. He may be reached at 865-342-6274. Follow him at http://twitter.com/Vols_Beat and http://blogs.knoxnews.com/ward

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Comments » 120

TommyJack writes:

whatever works

SmokeDog1972 writes:

Been wandering in the wilderness far too long...whip them Gators!!!!

richvol writes:

It's time...

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

Listened for the third time and just gets better and better..

It's time to drain that Swamp!!

Vols 31
Gators 20

Smokey says "let's do it!!!!"..

1965Vol writes:

I axed the travel lady for a ticket to the home of the best college football team in Floorda. She sold me a ticket to Tallahassee.

luvmykidos writes:

Let's go Vols ! You can do this ! We all here in East TN. believe in you ! Go eat some Gator =0)

Rich_Is_Re-born writes:

Saying we have a chance in the swamp the past few trips would be what I would consider optimistic. Saying we have a chance tomorrow is what I would consider realistic.

johnlg00 writes:

"The trick is dialing up a big-time performance and creating a buzz without putting extra pressure on the team, a balancing act that becomes more difficult when the stakes start to go up." WORD!!! If the young Vols can stay loose and do what they know how to do under the most pressure they have seen to date, all will be well in BOC, come Saturday night. If not, well, it won't be the end of the world, and I hope they all realize that, too.

GONAVY writes:

Turnovers and special teams will be big. UT's best chance is to get up early. That will change UF's game plan.

Packer_Park_Orange (Inactive) writes:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Saying we have a chance in the swamp the past few trips would be what I would consider optimistic. Saying we have a chance tomorrow is what I would consider realistic.

Agree 100%, Rich!!!

Smokey says that is an excellent choice of words..

roloyo writes:

in response to Rich_Is_Re-born:

Saying we have a chance in the swamp the past few trips would be what I would consider optimistic. Saying we have a chance tomorrow is what I would consider realistic.

Exactly.

GBO

cmoore7 writes:

Black pants and black power "T" on the helmets is the word on the street.

givehim6 writes:

I hear a craking sound.

LifetimeVolFan writes:

in response to Packer_Park_Orange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

It's really okay. Your Vanderbilt Commodores will win a conference games as soon as they join Conf-USA. Hang in there.

fbmf624#277664 writes:

Today is my sisters birthday i want the vols to give her the present she truely deserves beat the gators. Make this a great weekend for her.

WV_Vol writes:

in response to MrDonCorleone:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

This from the same uneducated fool who posted, "like 7 dudes covering punts..."

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Reasonable concerns, CC..I think those are probably the two most common for Vol fans.

Smokey says it will ALL work out..

757vol_fanatic writes:

Facts:
Bray- 51-65 78.5% comp. 698yards 7td's-0int's.

Brantley- 33-49 67.3% comp. 424yards 1td-2int's.

Poole- 45 carries 199 yards 1 td

Rainey- 27 carries 198 yards 2 td's
Demps- 14 carries 114 yards 2 td's

Hunter- 16 catches 302 yards 2 td's
Rogers- 15 catches 200 yards 3 td's

Rainey- 9 catches 110 yards 1 td
Dunbar- 4 catches 82 yards 0 td

Tennessee clearly has the offensive advantage. Florida clearly has the defensive advantage.
You can't win if you can't score.

Every Florida troll on this site will tell me how the vols can't contain Demps/Rainey. I say they can. Florida does not have any other playmakers. Those 2 guys are Florida's Offense.

I bet the Vols coaching staff would be willing to put 8 in the box and beg Brantley to beat them. He's too weak and doesn't have anyone to throw to outside of the backs. Like it or not you need something besides those 2 guys.

Please don't rant on and on about the last 2 games. Montana/Cincinnati is no worse than FAU/UAB. If Bray only put those numbers up because he played weak teams why doesn't Brantley have similar numbers?

Why hasn't Poole been more productive? The Vols know they can run the ball, why waste to gimmie games running when you can pass and get better in that area? After all Poole was the SEC's leading rusher last year.

My prediction Vols 38 Gators 28.

WV_Vol writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Why would Florida stack the box with 8 or 9? UT has shown no ability to run the ball. Bray will get blitzed but it won't be with 8 or 9 in the box.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to 757vol_fanatic:

Facts:
Bray- 51-65 78.5% comp. 698yards 7td's-0int's.

Brantley- 33-49 67.3% comp. 424yards 1td-2int's.

Poole- 45 carries 199 yards 1 td

Rainey- 27 carries 198 yards 2 td's
Demps- 14 carries 114 yards 2 td's

Hunter- 16 catches 302 yards 2 td's
Rogers- 15 catches 200 yards 3 td's

Rainey- 9 catches 110 yards 1 td
Dunbar- 4 catches 82 yards 0 td

Tennessee clearly has the offensive advantage. Florida clearly has the defensive advantage.
You can't win if you can't score.

Every Florida troll on this site will tell me how the vols can't contain Demps/Rainey. I say they can. Florida does not have any other playmakers. Those 2 guys are Florida's Offense.

I bet the Vols coaching staff would be willing to put 8 in the box and beg Brantley to beat them. He's too weak and doesn't have anyone to throw to outside of the backs. Like it or not you need something besides those 2 guys.

Please don't rant on and on about the last 2 games. Montana/Cincinnati is no worse than FAU/UAB. If Bray only put those numbers up because he played weak teams why doesn't Brantley have similar numbers?

Why hasn't Poole been more productive? The Vols know they can run the ball, why waste to gimmie games running when you can pass and get better in that area? After all Poole was the SEC's leading rusher last year.

My prediction Vols 38 Gators 28.

Nice work, sir!!

Smokey says thank you for that great post.

brian#367084 writes:

"Tennessee reported back to work and every player was handed a pen."

Half the team asked "What the hell is this thing?"

Raleigh writes:

Vols 14 Gators 45 Bones don't lie. Mark my words.

HarryHood writes:

in response to cmoore7:

Black pants and black power "T" on the helmets is the word on the street.

Did you just dream this up or is there some credibility to this statement?

Raleigh writes:

Sorry, I thought you wanted a prediction of the baseball score this spring.......

greatdaysahead writes:

in response to 757vol_fanatic:

Facts:
Bray- 51-65 78.5% comp. 698yards 7td's-0int's.

Brantley- 33-49 67.3% comp. 424yards 1td-2int's.

Poole- 45 carries 199 yards 1 td

Rainey- 27 carries 198 yards 2 td's
Demps- 14 carries 114 yards 2 td's

Hunter- 16 catches 302 yards 2 td's
Rogers- 15 catches 200 yards 3 td's

Rainey- 9 catches 110 yards 1 td
Dunbar- 4 catches 82 yards 0 td

Tennessee clearly has the offensive advantage. Florida clearly has the defensive advantage.
You can't win if you can't score.

Every Florida troll on this site will tell me how the vols can't contain Demps/Rainey. I say they can. Florida does not have any other playmakers. Those 2 guys are Florida's Offense.

I bet the Vols coaching staff would be willing to put 8 in the box and beg Brantley to beat them. He's too weak and doesn't have anyone to throw to outside of the backs. Like it or not you need something besides those 2 guys.

Please don't rant on and on about the last 2 games. Montana/Cincinnati is no worse than FAU/UAB. If Bray only put those numbers up because he played weak teams why doesn't Brantley have similar numbers?

Why hasn't Poole been more productive? The Vols know they can run the ball, why waste to gimmie games running when you can pass and get better in that area? After all Poole was the SEC's leading rusher last year.

My prediction Vols 38 Gators 28.

Ok while I mostly agree with you here, please let me correct that line about TP being the league's leading rusher...at this point in time last season he was the leading rusher in the SEC. Don't want any idiots dismissing a good comment b/c of an oversight.

Raleigh writes:

Vols fans who can't appreciate great baseball coaching don't deserve the color orange. I will live on as the ultimate legacy of UT athletics.

rockytn2jc writes:

jhahaha..... that's hilarious!!!

writer#358485 writes:

in response to brian#367084:

"Tennessee reported back to work and every player was handed a pen."

Half the team asked "What the hell is this thing?"

At least it wasn't the whole team, like it would be in Florida.

MusicCityVol writes:

Just CAN"T WAIT! So ready to see this game kickoff. Is it going to be weird to anyone else that the coaches in this series actually like each other now? No Spurrier-Fulmer or Kiffin-Meyer rivalry.

Friendly Foes Not the Norm in Tennessee-Florida Rivalry
http://www.checkerboardchatter.com/20...

writer#358485 writes:

in response to MrDonCorleone:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I think you're both wrong. These are two fairly evenly matched teams with each's strength playing to the other's weakness. I think it will be a close game with the breaks deciding it. I like the Vol's changes. Go Vols!

allvols4life writes:

in response to Raleigh:

Sorry, I thought you wanted a prediction of the baseball score this spring.......

Now thats funny!

writer#358485 writes:

Should have been, "I like the Vols' chances." Haven't been this excited about a game in a long time!

VolinCalif writes:

in response to jmr68ut:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

68
We have a running game, there just hasn't been a reason to show it to date.The last two games were only scrimmage games and we tried to give the OL some experience. That is going to be big at Fl. I just don't think they will be ready for a ground game like they will see. Then Watch TB do them in.

allvols4life writes:

in response to MrDonCorleone:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

You can't honestly say that John Brantley is better than Tyler Bray. I don't care if he is a 9th year senior, he is not a good QB. He may show up tomorrow and throw for 450 yards and 5 TDs, but at this point in his career he has been a major bust.

allvols4life writes:

in response to writer#358485:

I think you're both wrong. These are two fairly evenly matched teams with each's strength playing to the other's weakness. I think it will be a close game with the breaks deciding it. I like the Vol's changes. Go Vols!

Go back and take a look at Raleighs posts. He is not being serious about the score for the football game. If you read his second comment in this article, it says he is predicting the baseball score for next year.

murrayvol writes:

in response to Packer_Park_Orange:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

To borrow a phrase "see any polyps up there"?

murrayvol writes:

in response to CrippledCoon:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

I'm worried I don't have enough beer.

757vol_fanatic writes:

in response to MrDonCorleone:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Let's talk about these "playmakers" you mentioned.

Trey Burton- 6 carries 46 yards, 1 catch 11 yards and 1 td
Jordan Reed- 4 catches 47 yards 0 td's
Deonte Thompson- 5 catches 67 yards, 0 td's
Andre Debose- 5 catches 64 yards, 0 td's
Quinton Dunbar- already mentioned his amazing 4 cateches 82 yards, 0 td's
Frankie Hammond- 2 catches 27 yards.

Not exactly playmaker stats. For those that are mathmatically challenged that's a total of:
6 people with 20 catches 6 carries, 46 rushing yards, 287 passing yards (aka Brays average first half) and 1 touchdown.

you talk of disrespect? I didn't say one disrespectful thing. I didn't name call, I didn't make wild allagations, I simply stated facts and provided my opinion based on those facts. Disrespect would be an opposing team fan spending days/weeks/months or in your case Mr. DC years on another teams site. Your typical idiotic one sided stat slanted rants are only one amongst several on this site everyday.
The way I see it you must earn respect you don't just get it. Florida has won the last 6 games in a row. We know that. However, new team, new coaches, same rude fans. This team isn't going to be granted the respect earned by the Tebow/Myer era. Don't expect it.

The_Real_Orange writes:

Anybody that listened to Muschamp knows he isn't about to put 8-9 in the box. As he said, if 4 guys can pressure the qb, that's the best defense in football. UF will try to disguise their coverages and send an extra man or two at times after the qb without letting the qb know where they are coming from. SEC football is still won in the trenches. The team that wins at the line consistently will win most games, barring a rash of turnovers. Safe travels vol fans. Go Gators!!!

Witch_Doctors writes:

Witch Doctor say its gonna be a tough game, Witch Doctor say everyone needs to know this Gator team wont roll over at the first score. Witch Doctor say young Vols gonna have to play every down to win. Witch Doctor stick with original prediction
Vols by 6(first time I've picked Tennessee in this series in the last couple years.)
Go Vols
Bones NEVER lie.

greatdaysahead writes:

in response to MrDonCorleone:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Let me provide you an opportunity to dismount from your high horse there, Don. Yeah UF has Burton, Reed, Thompson, blah blah blah, well we don't just have Bray and Hunter and Rogers. We call these players "star players" because they pose the most glaring threat. Well, D (can I call you D? thanks), behind Demps and Rainey (aka UF's "star players") are the aforementioned players which UT respects and will accordingly make adjustments to. We have Prentiss Waggner, Austin Johnson, Curt Maggit, Tauren Poole, Jaques Smith (look for the largest, most cut lineman you've ever seen), and Mychael Rivera just to name a few that I guarantee UF will be making adjustments for. It's not that we think you don't have good players outside of your stars, we just have more.

The_Real_Orange writes:

Have a good weekend WD. Bow season starts in the morning here. A little treestand therapy in the morning, followed by some Gator football in the afternoon. Life is good!!!

johnlg00 writes:

in response to cmoore7:

Black pants and black power "T" on the helmets is the word on the street.

Oh, PLEASE! Say it ain't so! Haven't we seen enough Halloween costumes in college football already this season?

VolinCalif writes:

in response to murrayvol:

To borrow a phrase "see any polyps up there"?

murray that is a great one.

ProwlinAndGrowlinSmokeyDog writes:

in response to MrDonCorleone:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Blah,blah,blah....whatever..maybe if you would give UT respect, then MAYBE,JUST MAYBE the Gators might get some in return..You get what you give in this life, troll!!

Smokey says try it, you might be surprised of the results..

Witch_Doctors writes:

in response to The_Real_Orange:

Have a good weekend WD. Bow season starts in the morning here. A little treestand therapy in the morning, followed by some Gator football in the afternoon. Life is good!!!

Witch Doctor say send me some deer pot roast! lol. good luck!
Bones never lie.

pingkr62 writes:

I expect to see Florida throwing at Justin Coleman alot. He, along with the entire Tennessee team will need to play the game of their lives. I'm truly hoping the Vols can pull one out. Even without a win, if they can give Florida one hell of a game, this will confirm the direction of the program. We all need to be realistic in our expectations. But we, and the Florida trolls also need to realize the great pumpkin is not preparing the team this week. G.B.O.!!!!

DalTexVol writes:

in response to MrDonCorleone:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

Your post got whacked, Godfather.

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