The Gators escaped Knoxville yesterday evening with a very narrow 21-20 victory over the Tennessee Vols. This was one of those games close from the beginning to the end and could be disected in a way in which one thing here and there could be looked at at reasons for victory or defeat.
Here are my basic thoughts about the UF defense and special teams from this game...I will try to keep this as short as possible:
- What can you say about the front 7, as well as just the whole defensive squad against the run last night? The Vols were held to minus-11 yards rushing on 23 attempts, keeping David Cutcliffe's offensive scheme un-balanced. Not only were these guys stopping the run, but putting a lot of pressure on Ainge as well (which he ignored to still make some good plays, and I applaud him on that). The Gators have a great front 7 and could be one of the best in the country.
For the most part, the Vols couldn't escape the Gators defensive front (picture courtesy of GatorZone.com)
- The corners looked unmatched at times. It was almost reminiscent of when Zook would go into that soft zone defense with a lead. Unfortunately, though, this was happening nearly the whole late second quarter through the end of the game. A little bit tighter coverage should have been used at times.
- UT's passing offense is definitely back under David Cutcliffe, unless that was just a bad performance by the UF secondary. Ainge made some very good throws and the Vols receivers were just simply getting open when they were asked to. This was something that was seriously lacking under Randy Sanders and I expect that this offense is going to mesh well for the rest of the season. The Vols could be a very tough team to beat all season with the way Ainge is progressing in the first 3 games.
- Reggie Nelson has got some talent at safety, evidenced by two picks. Somehow, though, didn't come up with any tackles. I guess that means the D-Line and LBs were taking care of all that.
- Unfortunately, after watching the DVR'd game, Marcus Thomas should get suspended next game for that cheap shot on the Vols O-Lineman. That's unnecessary and I hope he at least gets a stern scolding for that.
- Brandon James looks to be our full time returner. Two punt returns last night could have very easily counted for 6 points...unfortunately Britton Colquitt made a very smart play by tripping up James on the first return (isn't that a penalty, though?) and on the second return a very close block in the back was called. You get some calls, you don't get some calls. It's football. Anyways, James is good and I hope to see some electric stuff at returner from here on out.
Nice arm tackle there, Colquitt (Gainesville Sun Picture)
- The two missed FGs were both pretty long, and the offense should have gotten in a little better position for Hetland (will be discussed later).