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Florida vs. Tennessee, Theater of Operations: The defense leads the way

The Florida Gators once again relied on their defense to keep them in the game against the Tennessee Volunteers.

Joe Robbins

Despite being out-gained by one yard, the Florida Gators defeated the Tennessee Volunteers 10-9 on Saturday. Led by a run defense that allowed just 28 yards, the Gators' defense turned the Vols into a one dimensional offense and they were able to take advantage.

The Gators forced three turnovers, combined for six sacks and held the Vols to 5 of 17 third down conversions. While the pass defense still needs a little work, everything else appears to be clicking on all cylinders. Granted, it was Tennessee and we all saw what can happen against a top team in Alabama, but it's a step in the right direction.

Baby steps. Progress.

Play No. 1: Antonio Morrison gets a sack


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Morrison will get credit for the sack, but it's Dante Fowler Jr. who makes the play. Flower will come up on a rush and force Justin Worley up into a collapsed pocket.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

You can see here that Fowler (on the right) has beaten the left tackle of Tennessee and is coming free at Worley. Morrison (No. 3) has a great lane to come at Worley as well and he's going to take advantage of it.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

There's Flower Jr. with the pressure and the force up into the pocket. Morrison is coming from the left within the defense and he's going to take advantage of Worley being chased up into the pocket. This was the first of six sacks credited to the Gators' defense in a game in which the defensive line was supposed to dominate the Volunteer offensive line.

Play No. 2: Vernon Hargreaves III gets an interception


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Hargreaves III is one of the best cover corners in all of college football for a reason. One of them being that you can stick him one-on-one with a receiver and not really have to worry about it. That's what the Gators do here. Because of that, it allows the Gators to blitz and/or send pressure more often. Which they do on this play as well.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

The pressure causes Worley to throw off his back foot and he's unable to get anything on the throw.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

After some incidental contact near the goal line, Hargreaves III makes a nice diving interception on the play. There was some question as to the contact (it was incidental, for sure) and whether or not he caught it at first (he did, clearly).

Play No. 3: Alex McCalister gets a sack


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Pressure off the ends. In one of the biggest 3rd downs of the game, the Gators defense comes up big again. You can look at the defense and see that they're playing man defense with a safety deep. This is what the Gators shold do unless they're facing a running quarterback. Then, obviously, you switch to a zone defense.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

Worley is going to step up into the pocket in an attempt to get some room to throw the ball. The only problem with that for Worley is that's where the defense converges on him and will end the play.


(Photo courtesy of ESPN)

McCalister gets the sack.

All in all, the Gators' defense responded well to their terrible performance down in Tuscaloosa a couple of weeks ago which was a good thing to see. We'll get to the remainder of the top plays a little later today, but for now just keep thinking about all the positives that are surrounding this program.