Tennessee falls to No. 19 Florida, 31-17

Rough debut start for Nathan Peterman

 Tennessee defensive back Brian Randolph (37) was unable to stop Florida wide receiver Solomon Patton (83) who ran for a touchdown during the first half against Florida Saturday, Sep. 21, 2013 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL. (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

Photo by Michael Patrick

Tennessee defensive back Brian Randolph (37) was unable to stop Florida wide receiver Solomon Patton (83) who ran for a touchdown during the first half against Florida Saturday, Sep. 21, 2013 at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium in Gainesville, FL. (MICHAEL PATRICK/NEWS SENTINEL)

Tennessee quarterback Nathan Peterman threw two interceptions and coughed up a fumble in a nightmarish first start that sent the Vols to a 31-17 loss to No. 19 Florida on Saturday at Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.

The Vols (2-2, 0-1 SEC) squandered a sloppy performance by the Gators (2-1, 1-0), who lost starting quarterback Jeff Driskel in the first quarter and committed three turnovers of their own in the first half.

Tennessee suffered its ninth consecutive loss to the Gators and 18th consecutive loss against ranked opponents. The Vols have not won an SEC road game since 2010.

Peterman, who grew up a fan of Gators legend Tim Tebow in Fruit Cove, Fla., was announced as the starter just 90 minutes before kickoff.

The outing was miserable from the start. The Vols fumbled on their second play of the game -- for the second game in a row -- when Peterman and running back Rajion Neal got tied up on a hand-off exchange.

Three plays later, Peterman fumbled after being hit in the pocket. His first interception came on an errant throw. The second came when the ball slipped out of his hand.

By the second quarter, it was clear Peterman’s day was done, and Butch Jones re-installed Justin Worley as starter just before halftime.

Despite the miserable half, the Vols stayed in the game because of the Gators’ mistakes.

Driskel injured his ankle on the same play he threw an interception that Vols freshman Devaun Swafford returned 62 yards for a touchdown. There were more gifts from Florida, including a mishandled punt and a fumble.

The Vols’ defense looked worn down by the second half, and the Gators converted 10 third downs to stay on the field for 37 minutes of possession.

Worley (10-of-21 for 149 yards) helped lead the Vols back, finding a wide-open Alton “Pig” Howard in the end zone for a 18-yard touchdown with 10 minutes left in the fourth quarter that cut the Gators’ lead to 14. The Vols had chances in the their final three possessions. But Worley threw two interceptions and the Vols failed to reach the end zone.

Florida backup quarterback Tyler Murphy settled down after a rocky start, completing 8 of 14 passes for 134 yards and rushing for 84 more.

Tennessee returns home for a non-conference game against South Alabama on Saturday. The Gators play at Kentucky.

Evan Woodbery covers Tennessee football. Follow him on Twitter.

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Comments » 21

ThirdCreek writes:

Valiant effort by the Vols who clearly lack the talent to compete with the elite of the SEC.

OrangeVol4Life writes:

I disagree with the lack of talent. Sure, FL has more talent but we killed ourselves in a very winnable game. Petterman was a mistake by Butch then another mistake by Butch when he left him in the game too long. On the bright side, VOLS didn't lay down and played hard the entire game. Something they never did last year. I still believe in the TEAM and the COACH but we should have won this one.

MooseandSquirrelVol writes:

Until and unless we get a QB who can and will pull the ball down and run when plays break down, we will continue to get beat by teams who have QBs who can and will pull the ball down and run when the play breaks down.

Vol-in-GA writes:

The talent divide is still wide. Florida brings in a kid that has never played a down, and by the end of the game he looks fantastic. Its easy to get caught up in the enthusiasm that Jones brings, but it doesn't change talent, at least not yet. November will be the true test. Its where and when the Vol's can qualify for a bowl game. That is when we play the SEC teams that we can beat. Who knows, maybe we can steal one in October.

underthehill writes:

Don't know if the staff plans to redshirt Dobbs..but other freshmen have played before..if he is the best chance to win now..play him..I can't see beating anyone other than ..maybe..S Ala. and Ky with Worley or Peterman..fans I was watching with could not remember a team worse on offense than this one..can you...how can anyone say this is an outstanding O line when they seldom..if ever..move the D line on run plays..with the score 10-7 I was hoping for a run play and a field goal and maybe go in at the half tied..it didn't happen..and the half score became 17-7..bad decision by the coaching staff..

underthehill writes:

in response to MooseandSquirrelVol:

Until and unless we get a QB who can and will pull the ball down and run when plays break down, we will continue to get beat by teams who have QBs who can and will pull the ball down and run when the play breaks down.

Good point..but it goes deeper than that..

rockypop writes:

Maybe we could get some "loaners" from Alabama for the Missouri game, since that's a bye weekend for the Tide. Since they play UT the previous Saturday, they'll have a lot of starters who are rested.

wigmeister writes:

No quarterback. Offensive line highly hyped but not performing. Defensive backs that are slow and only try to arm tackle, unsuccessfully, I might add. This game was fugly.

Dan73 writes:

If Tennessee Players want to get paid for playing then can we dock their pay, fire them, or get our scholarship money back when they fail to perform. Hey they keep saying it is business so I don't think we are getting what we are paying for. Coaches can only do so much. I direct this comment completely at the O LINE and running backs specifically.

RoadTrip writes:

in response to wigmeister:

No quarterback. Offensive line highly hyped but not performing. Defensive backs that are slow and only try to arm tackle, unsuccessfully, I might add. This game was fugly.

I agree. Other than Sutton and a couple of plays from Randolph the secondary was not good. But the DE/LB combos are not working on contain. Williams is the only one that will occasionally stay in his lane. And Christian Harris is lost as a goose out there.

TommyJack writes:

Lots of areas need improvement. But to me, both QB's I've seen are Div II players at best.

utfans#211352 writes:

Pretty incredible how bad Peterman was. That was brutal, feel bad for the kid, I was all for playing him. Evidently we don't have a qb capable of playing in the SEC. Worley just doesn't have any zip on the ball and is not accurate. If Dobbs or Ferguson are better we should just go ahead and play them. It concerns me we are going to scare off any elite receivers.

bhdjdj#302163 writes:

Didn't see any quitters in the second half. Lost audio midway 3rd quarter. That was a relief . Heard some one I dislike more the Voice of the Vols. Without sound or replay, the game seemed more I like I was really there instead of somewhere near the 10th parallel. Did anyone hear any of my F words , last week during the game with the ducks From way down here ?

Esau writes:

in response to TommyJack:

Lots of areas need improvement. But to me, both QB's I've seen are Div II players at best.

Yep.

towmater writes:

Now I know what it must feel like to be a Kentucky football fan ...

johnlg00 writes:

The main positive I took from the game was the play of the D-line. The Gators didn't get much at all done with the inside running game. The line pressured the passers pretty well the whole game. Agree about the poor containment on the edges; that has been a problem for what seems like years now. Agree that the team didn't quit, but I knew they were in trouble when they didn't capitalize on the punter's fumble. Hate it for Peterman; he may have talent, but he was just not ready for this. The team seemed much more comfortable when Worley came back in. Continue to be disappointed with the O-line. They just haven't lived up to their reputation either in run blocking or pass blocking. Receivers have very unimpressive ball skills. Gonna be a long, hard slog to get the Vols back to respectability, let alone championship contention.

psychovol2 writes:

"Sub-merged: Vols lose in Peterman's first start." Correction, Vols lose in Peterman's last start. Scary to think that Jones recruited him to Cincy as well. Worley may be the present but Dobbs/Ferguson are the future. I say scrap the redshirts and get them playing time. The Vols need a QB that can get some yards on the ground.

GerryOP writes:

Gee! Totally amazing! According to you guys, in less than an hour Peterman, the backup QB, goes from the most popular guy on the team to the most hated! Who's the next most popular, Ferguson or Dobbs?

underthehill writes:

in response to GerryOP:

Gee! Totally amazing! According to you guys, in less than an hour Peterman, the backup QB, goes from the most popular guy on the team to the most hated! Who's the next most popular, Ferguson or Dobbs?

I'd like to see Dobbs..but it looks like they plan to redshirt him..

underthehill writes:

in response to johnlg00:

The main positive I took from the game was the play of the D-line. The Gators didn't get much at all done with the inside running game. The line pressured the passers pretty well the whole game. Agree about the poor containment on the edges; that has been a problem for what seems like years now. Agree that the team didn't quit, but I knew they were in trouble when they didn't capitalize on the punter's fumble. Hate it for Peterman; he may have talent, but he was just not ready for this. The team seemed much more comfortable when Worley came back in. Continue to be disappointed with the O-line. They just haven't lived up to their reputation either in run blocking or pass blocking. Receivers have very unimpressive ball skills. Gonna be a long, hard slog to get the Vols back to respectability, let alone championship contention.

Talk show guys are saying about the same as you..seems no one can understand what is going on with the O line..they look fat and slow to me..got soundly thrashed by Oregon and Fla..I think about everyone expected the Vols to be 2-2 at this point..I don't think anyone expected the O line to play like they are..

GerryOP writes:

in response to underthehill:

I'd like to see Dobbs..but it looks like they plan to redshirt him..

Stick with Worley. Let him get more experience and be ready for next year. Stop the backup QB parade.

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