Chris Rainey, Jeff Demps stayed out of defense's reach

MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL
Tennessee's Izauea Lanier, obscured, can't hang on to Florida's Chris Rainey, left, during the second half of the teams' game Saturday game in Gainesville, Fla.

Photo by Michael Patrick, copyright © 2011

MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL Tennessee's Izauea Lanier, obscured, can't hang on to Florida's Chris Rainey, left, during the second half of the teams' game Saturday game in Gainesville, Fla.

Game recap: Florida 33, Tennessee 23

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Tennessee knew what was coming all week.

Speedy Florida running backs Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps were going to get the ball more than anyone else. When they got the ball, either via a traditional hand-off or through the air on a short screen pass, their eyes would immediately dart to the sidelines, where they hoped to sprint past would-be tacklers.

The Vols just couldn't stop it Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

Rainey and Demps darted and dashed over the Vols for a combined 297 yards of offense — more than 85 percent of Florida's entire offensive output — to carry the Gators in their 33-23 victory. The big plays came in chunks and spurts and always seemed to occur at the worst time.

All the preparation the Vols could squeeze into a week's worth of practice wasn't enough.

"There were a lot of times we were in position, they just ran around us and outran us," Tennessee coach Derek Dooley said. "They did exactly what they thought they would do because they're good coaches.

"They're really good players. Rainey's a really good player and they do a good job using him the right way."

Florida set the tone immediately, as it opened the game with three straight looks through the air to the senior duo. Before Florida quarterback John Brantley looked for a target other than Demps or Rainey, the Gators were in UT territory and poised to score.

In fact, the only thing they didn't do on the first possession was score, as Demps' 28-yard carry set up a 1-yard touchdown catch by Trey Burton that gave the Gators a lead they would never relinquish.

"To be able to have guys like Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps, when you put the ball in their hands, they can score at any time," Florida coach Will Muschamp said. "With (offensive coordinator) Charlie Weis' system we evaluate our talent and evaluate what we can do."

The big plays dampened an otherwise resilient effort by a Vols defense that was the victim of poor field position throughout the game because of atrocious special teams play. Florida's first two drives of the second quarter were played exclusively on the Vols' side of the field, but both ended with field goals.

It wasn't until three plays into the third defensive series, when Art Evans took Brantley down on a botched reverse 14 yards behind the line of scrimmage, that the Vols had the Gators in their own territory.

"We hung in there," Dooley said.

Two big plays doomed the defense in the third quarter. Accordingly, Rainey was at the center of both of them, and the Vols' mistakes made a bad situation even worse.

Following a Tyler Bray interception on the first play of the second half, Rainey, on the second play of the Gators' possession, ran 14 yards down the sideline for a first down. The Vols gave him and the Gators 15 more, as safety Brent Brewer, flying from the opposite side of the field, grabbed Rainey's facemask before bringing him down.

The drive ended in a touchdown, but only after the Vols held steady for three consecutive plays inside the 10-yard line.

The biggest blow came on the very next drive, as Rainey took a screen pass with no one around him and ran 83 yards for a backbreaking touchdown that put the Gators up, 30-7.

The Vols simply had no room for error because of the duo's speed, which Dooley used phrases such as "Olympic-like" and "like a cannon" to draw up comparisons.

"I felt like our game plan was really strong," linebacker Austin Johnson said. "We just had some missed tackles and some missed assignments. We just got to make sure we eliminate those."

There isn't a tandem like Demps and Rainey left on the Vols' schedule, but their impact will resonate through the bye week and into the Oct. 1 game against Buffalo.

"We just got to watch the film and learn from our mistakes," Johnson said. "We've got to keep working and just come together as a group."

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Comments » 16

LADAWG writes:

TN is pitiful

agohn writes:

Here's a positive...we don't have to see Rainey, Demps, or Brantley ever again. And who knows, maybe Chubby Checker I mean Chubby Weiss will leave for something else too. We are getting there, it will take some time. I believe in Dooley, and the Orange. Go Vols!

agohn writes:

in response to LADAWG:

TN is pitiful

You're pitiful for posting your bs. Just shut up!

KarnsVol writes:

We lost this one because of mental errors. That is to be expected with such a young team in a hostile environment (many for the first time ever). We all put our hearts into this one (as we should have)and ignored what Vegas was saying when they put out a 10 pt line. I still say 8-4 and a New Years bowl game. Go Vols!!!

voladdiction writes:

i am as heart-broken as anyone about this loss.

But one thing to be encouraged by is that our team did not pack it in when the Gators went up 30-7. I feel like last year's team gave up or folded up when things got out of hand. This team is different.

If the Gators had lost Rainey, instead of us losing Hunter, can you imagine how this game would have gone?

Don't give up on our Vols...

Ga_Dave writes:

I'm not ready to give up yet! We lost 1/2 of our offense right off the bat, and you could tell that deflated our whole team (Offense & Defense) for awhile. But, we came back from it and never gave up. I know we have alot to work on from Sp Teams, snapping the ball & especially the run game, but let's try to see the improvements. It's not like we lost by 20-30 points, it was a 10 point margin, hardly a beat down! We now have 2 weeks to prepare for life, possibly without #11. GBO

LADAWG writes:

in response to agohn:

You're pitiful for posting your bs. Just shut up!

Another year of irrelevancy

agohn writes:

in response to LADAWG:

Another year of irrelevancy

Did you really expect Tennessee to be a national or sec champion this year? Or even better than 6-6 or 7-5? Why don't you give the staff and players time to gel. We are depleted and playing freshman and sophomores. They need time to grow up. If you think they are irrelevant then why are you crying like Tim T Bag on this post? Grow up, sometimes loses happen.

agohn writes:

Stupid smart phone...I meant to say losses.

flatrock writes:

There will be no running game this year- get over it. O-line needs another year in the weight room
(in top tier programs, our 4 sophs would be redshirt frosh and back-ups to mature upper classmen). The RBs are in for a frustrating year. However, Bray is special and I believe the offense can compete but it is gonna be by slinging the ball 55-60 times per game and the RBs can be effective with underneath routes. The offense will have a definite Purdue look. Arnett and Dallas have a chance to be solid SEC players. Defense is better, but freshmen LBs
will be tested every week by new looks, motion, etc. The key to this season, unfortunately, will be the kicking game. Strap up, Vol fans, it could be a bumpy October!

gortrtt writes:

"Tennessee knew what was coming all week."

We've known for two years what's coming. And that is a gradual ramp up to where the Vols are back to where they should be.

And in spite of being born in Georgia, the Darwinian Bouillabaisse that it is, Dooley is smart and talented enough to get it done if UT gives him time.

The #1 deficit that hurts Tennessee most, and that should be the top priority for recruiting, is to get top line OL players who are able to return the Vols to where they were in the late '90s and early 2000s.

In the immediate, we've got three weeks before our next SEC game and it's not a real difficult one. It's Georgia, for Heaven's sake. They're usually compliant little brothers and haven't shown any cajones at all this year. If Hiestand can get his guys going and ready to establish an effective blocking scheme for the running backs, UT can still have a very good outing versus the 'dogs in Knoxville on the 8th. That will set the stage for a good last half of '11 and a good bowl.

lofter writes:

I said it in another post that Chris Rainey and Jeff Demps are both faster than any Vol. But, then there is the issue of team speed. UF was faster to the ball, faster off the line, faster in all aspects of the game. Some of this speed can be coached and some of it is young men still learning their position and being hesitant. As the young guys learn and not have to think, team speed will come.

DC82_Vol writes:

in response to simmsagain:

(This comment was removed by the site staff.)

While we are at it, we could look for an O-Line coach as well.

btvol11 writes:

in response to LADAWG:

TN is pitiful

cant wait until TN plays the wittle dawgys. its pretty bad when they have to schedule a high school team to get a win.

tovolny writes:

SPREAD THE WORD: SPEACIAL TEAMS MATTER!

Gatorguy writes:

Toddyboy is right..the matchups weren't there for your team. I do believe in Bray and think all teams will worry about his presence as he gains more experience and matures. I do think you can beat S. Carolina as their defense implodes each week like Auburn. You should handle Georgia as well.

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