I can still feel and hear it like it was yesterday. I've said ever since that it was the loudest I've ever heard a stadium in my entire life. Even though I still have no idea what Dallas Baker did, but I guess they always get the second person. Oh wait, that's right. They don't.
But I guess it makes up for Jabar Gaffney's "catch" to beat the Vols in Knoxville that many years ago.
(He didn't catch it.)
So while the Gators and Volunteers are even in that regard, the Gators haven't lost in the rivalry since. Maybe the football Gods have had something to do with it. Maybe it's my [pretty good 4-1 record when watching the Gators in Knoxville.
2004. I hate blemishes.
Are Justin Worley, Jalen Hurd and A.J. Johnson good enough to end the streak and beat the Gators? Throughout the streak Tennessee has had much better players and teams, but it's this current Gators squad that has everyone picking the Vols. As for me, they say never bet against a streak...
Play No. 1: Worley hits Johnathan Johnson for 24 yards
I'm not the biggest fan of having the quarterback roll out to his non-throwing shoulder side because he's generally going to throw against the weight of his body and won't be able to get much on the ball. But that's what Worley does here and he just gets enough on the ball to float it over the defender.
See what I mean?
Also, this was one of the few plays in which the offensive line for the Volunteers played pretty well. If there is a game in which the Gators defensive line could feast, this is it.
From another angle:
Maybe it's a good thing that the Gators want to simplify things in the secondary. I think that's the right call because whatever they're doing know, they're just not understanding. As for this play, it's not a high-risk play for an interception, but an incomplete pass is the most probable outcome.
This time though, it was completed for an early first down.
Play No. 2: Worley hits Jason Croom for a 23 yard touchdown
Croom just runs towards the endzone, the offensive line blocks just long enough and the defender bites inside and low assuming safety help over the top.
Worley does pump fake, which draws the defender further off of Croom. But just as he releases the ball the defensive line breaks through. He gets off the perfect throw under the circumstances and what the play calls for.
Which reminds me: Worley isn't all that bad of a quarterback.
The throw ends up exactly where it needed to be. Croom will turn around and make the catch just the defender gets there to attempt to disrupt things. For a pressure drive and a pressure throw, the Vols did things right here.
Play No. 3: Hurd runs a draw for 18 yards
A draw play to the opposite side of the blitz? Yes, please.
But the time that Hurd gets the ball, one defender is behind him already and there is another one that is close. I would have liked to have seen the Vols pull one of the lineman over from the right and get the play off a little quicker. That way there is a lead blocker out there in front.
The defender grabs onto Hurd at the 26 yardline ...
... and promptly gets carried to the 34 yardline.
Both teams have the ability to run the ball, but I trust the Gators' defensive front more than I do Tennessee's. The team that runs the ball at a higher level has done well in the rivalry over the last two decades. The team with the most rushing yards have won 22 out of the last 24, including the last 11 straight.
Matt Jones against an inexperienced but getting better defense or Hurd going up against a Gators defense built to stop the run? That's the question.
I'm not one to bet against a streak. Plus I really want to say we've beaten Tennessee for a decade. They can have their Lil Jon and their checkered stands.
I'll be a homer in this one. Gators win, 26-20.