Tennessee-Florida Game Preview

A weekly look at our upcoming opponent's recent history, with animated drive charts, links to SB Nation game pages, and statistical comparisons.

CAVEATS: You'll get tired of hearing this, but yeah, we know that small sample sets preclude concrete conclusions. Two games doesn't provide enough data to approach the predictive accuracy of even a Magic 8 Ball, but that doesn't mean we're not going to look at what little we have. Also, this: All of the following information is gleaned exclusively from the NCAA statistics and does not account for things like injuries, shared playing time, suspensions, and other stuff difficult to see in the stats from a bird's eye view under time constraints. As we did last year, we're putting the "conclusions" and "predictions" before and after the meat because it's a long post and we get winded more easily in our old age, you know? You're not seeing double. Or maybe you are.

Sketchy Conclusions

  • We do not have enough data to feel good about any of these conclusions or predictions. (I told you you'd get tired of hearing this.)
  • That is not going to stop us from concluding and predicting things.
  • Both offenses appear prolific in different ways, but Florida's defense appears much better so far this season than does Tennessee's.
  • So far, it appears that the key to stopping Florida's offense is stopping Chris Rainey.
  • Yes, the reason Florida always starts the season with two lightweights is because they have to have two games to get all of their suspensions out of the way for the Tennessee game. None of the data in this post accounts for the return of Shariff Floyd. Boo.
  • We're going to find out this week whether Tennessee's passing offense or Florida's defense is legit. It's probably a little bit of both, so expect some give on both sides. The Gators aren't holding UT to a field goal, but neither are the Vols scoring over 40.
  • John Brantley The Gators threw three interceptions against FAU, practically all in a row. (FlaGators points out in the comments that only two of these were Brantley, and one was a tip, but still.) If Tennessee can rattle him, he may take awhile to unrattle.
  • Florida still has plague at punt and kick returner, but Tennessee has developed a bit of immunity in those areas over the past 12 months or so, so perhaps special teams won't play as much of a role as it has in the recent history of this series.

Predictions

  • Tennessee 21, Florida 20. No, I'm not altogether confident in this.

Schedule and Animated Drive Charts

 

Florida Logo

Florida Atlantic Owls 9/3/11 win 41 - 3 coverage
UAB Blazers

9/10/11

win 39 - 0 coverage

Tennessee Logo

Montana Grizzlies 9/3/11 win 42 - 16 coverage
Cincinnati Bearcats 9/10/11 win 45 - 23 coverage

So Florida played two FBS patsies while Tennessee played one FCS patsy and a decent FBS opponent. The offenses scored roughly the same obscene amount of points, but the Vols' defense gave up significantly more points to their opponents. However, Florida Atlantic also didn't score any points against Michigan State, and Cincinnati scored 72 against Austin-Peay, so take all of this for what it's worth.

Here are Florida's drive charts to date:

FULL SCREEN VERSION

Animated Drive Chart brought to you by Gameday Depot.

 

FULL SCREEN VERSION


Hmm. Those do sure make the defense look stout and the offense prolific, although I did really enjoy the interceptions on three consecutive drives against FAU. I'd like to order a large mug of that, please.

National Unit Rankings

OFFENSIVE RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
SEC Leader Actual
Rushing Offense 17 248.50 Navy 400.50 2 Mississippi St. 321.00
Passing Offense 49 241.50 Houston 436.50 5 Arkansas 368.50
Total Offense 21 490.00 Oklahoma 663.00 3 Mississippi St. 588.00
Scoring Offense 32 40.00 Washington St. 61.50 7 Arkansas 51.50
Passing Efficiency 57 135.53 Georgia Tech 315.92 7 Tennessee 204.93
Sacks Allowed 1 .00 Maryland .00 1 Florida .00

Offensive observations. The world has indeed gone downside up when Tennessee's passing attack is better than Florida's and Florida's rushing attack is better than Tennessee's. Also, we have only two sacks on the season, and Florida hasn't allowed any, so if we get one, it will be cause for celebration. And what would it do to John Brantley's already modest passing numbers?

DEFENSIVE RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
SEC Leader Actual
Rushing Defense 10 50.50 Kansas St. 10.00 3 LSU 45.50
Pass Efficiency Defense 18 89.00 Western Mich. 55.20 4 Alabama 60.12
Total Defense 6 174.50 Kansas St. 129.00 2 Alabama 170.50
Scoring Defense 1 1.50 UCF 1.50 1 Florida 1.50
Pass Defense 12 124.00 Western Mich. 60.00 2 Alabama 121.50
Sacks T-77 1.00 Texas A&M 8.00 4 Vanderbilt 3.50
Tackles For Loss 40 7.00 Eastern Mich. 12.00 5 Mississippi St. 8.50

Defensive observations. So a very good scoring offense butts up against a defense currently ranked first in the nation. Something will give. They seem to be good at everything on D, except perhaps for the havoc-behind-the-line categories, which bodes well for the Bray-K 47.

SPECIAL TEAMS AND TURNOVERS RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
SEC Leader Actual
Net Punting 113 29.00 Houston 50.80 12 Kentucky 46.30
Punt Returns 22 13.75 Louisiana Tech 52.00 5 Ole Miss 35.67
Kickoff Returns 26 26.67 Nebraska 42.20 4 Arkansas 40.67
Turnover Margin T-93 -1.00 Rutgers 4.00 11 Vanderbilt 2.00

Special teams and turnovers observations. Oh, for a punt returner who could exploit a 113th-ranked net punting team. And that bad turnover margin thing? Fickle things to take to dances, especially this early in the game, so beware. File "they have returners" in the "what else is new" category and try to stifle the shivers by remembering that the Vols are actually doing much better at covering kicks and punts these days.

Players to Watch

Category Player National
Rank
Actual
OFFENSE
Rushing Chris Rainey T-35 99.00
Jeff Demps 57.50
Mike Gillislee 49.00
Passing Efficiency (Min. 15 Att./Game) John Brantley 52 138.60
Total Offense John Brantley 67 213.50
Chris Rainey 99.00
Receptions Per Game Chris Rainey T-97 4.50
Andre Debose 2.50
Deonte Thompson 2.50
Receiving Yards Per Game Chris Rainey 55.00
Quinton Dunbar 41.00
Deonte Thompson 33.50
Scoring Chris Rainey T-15 12.00
Caleb Sturgis T-15 12.00

Offensive Observations. So far, this team appears to be all about Chris Rainey, who's getting the ball in all sorts of ways. Receivers Andre Debose and Deonte Thompson get it about as much together as Rainey gets it alone. Quinton Dunbar appears to be a deep threat as well. But it appears that stopping the Gators on offense is all about corralling Rainey.

Category Player National
Rank
Actual
DEFENSE
Interceptions
Sacks Jaye Howard (DL) .50
Ronald Powell (DL) .50
Tackles
Tackles For Loss Lerentee McCray (DL) T-89 1.25
Jonathan Bostic (LB) 1.00
Jaye Howard (DL) 1.00

Defense. With the exception of Jonathan Bostic, it looks like most of the pressure, if it comes, will come from the defensive line itself and not necessarily through blitzes/stops from other positions. Whoever likes those blank boxes next to the Interceptions category, raise your hand. And apparently, no one on the team tackles. Hey, Believe!

Category Player National
Rank
Actual
SPECIAL TEAMS
Punting (Min. 3.6 Punts/Game)
Punt Returns (Min. 1.2 Ret./Game)
Kickoff Returns (Min. 1.2 Ret./Game)
Field Goals Caleb Sturgis T-5 2.50
All-Purpose Runners Chris Rainey T-26 165.00
Jeff Demps 88.00

 

Special teams. I am not afraid of field goals, at least not yet, so Caleb Sturgis, have at it. Stop Rainey, and keep an eye on Jeff Demps as well.

Head to Head Comparisons

  Tennessee Logo Florida Logo
Comps
Result Against Comps
Prediction
UT rush v. Florida rush defense 127
(#81)
50.50
(#10)
Cincinnati
(127)
(#59)
126 80
UT pass v. Florida pass defense 358
(#9)
124
(#12)
Cincinnati
(277)
(#96)
405 290
Florida rush v. UT rush defense 138.50
(#67)
248.50
(#17)
Cincinnati
(276.50)
(#11)
166 150
Florida pass v. UT pass defense 232.50
(#73)
241.50
(#49)
Cincinnati
(202)
(#79)
230 220
UT scoring offense v. Florida scoring defense 43.50
(#22)
1.50
(#1)
Cincinnati
(27.50)
(#73)
45 21
Florida scoring offense v. UT scoring defense 19.50
(#46)
40
(#32)
Cincinnati
(47.50)
(#11)
23 20

These are informed guesses rather than mathematical calculations, and this early in the season, the guesses are particularly sketchy. For instance, we can't really consider Montana a decent comparable because they're from the FCS. And does Cincinnati rank 96th in pass defense because they're bad at defending the passing game or because those numbers were compiled largely against Tyler Bray, Justin Hunter, and Da'Rick Rogers? Conversely, do the Bearcats rank 11th in the country in rush defense because they're good at it or because one of their two opponents was us?

Anyway, the general analytical framework is this: We are averaging X in a certain category. The opponent averages Y against that, which is most closely comparable to some identified previous opponent, against whom we did Z. All of that leads to an informed guess labeled as Prediction. And one more time for emphasis: The less data you have, the more sketchy the guess, and the guesses range from ALL CAPS SKETCHY WITH EXCLAMATION POINTS at the beginning of the season to merely lower case sketchy for the last game. Tired yet?

This week's example: We're averaging 358 yards through the air. The Gators are holding opponents to 124 passing yards per game. Cincinnati is the only real comp, and they're not even close to Florida. In any event, against the Bearcats, we got 405. Accounting for the super sketchiness of all of that, we'll go with a best guess of, oh, say, 290 yards. Yeah, 290. Give or take a few hundred.

Heh. I did those predictions up there before writing this paragraph, and I did not realize that I had both teams gaining the same number of yards. I feel good about none of this, but I feel better about Florida's score than I do Tennessee's. Cincinnati scored 72 points in its first game, and we held them to 23, so we should be able to make a huge dent in Florida's current average of 40. Basically, I cut it in half. I cut ours in half, too, despite the fact that Florida is only allowing 1.5 points per game so far. They're a good defense, but we're clicking on O, so you know. And I ended up with Tennessee by one because that's what I really really really want, pretty pretty please. It's all sketchy, and probably no better than just pulling numbers out of thin air, but there you are, and I'm sticking to it.

Sketchy Conclusions

  • We do not have enough data to feel good about any of these conclusions or predictions.
  • That is not going to stop us from concluding and predicting things.
  • Both offenses appear prolific in different ways, but Florida's defense appears much better so far this season than does Tennessee's.
  • So far, it appears that the key to stopping Florida's offense is stopping Chris Rainey.
  • Yes, the reason Florida always starts the season with two lightweights is because they have to have two games to get all of their suspensions out of the way for the Tennessee game. None of the data in this post accounts for the return of Shariff Floyd. Boo.
  • We're going to find out this week whether Tennessee's passing offense or Florida's defense is legit. It's probably a little bit of both, so expect some give on both sides. The Gators aren't holding UT to a field goal, but neither are the Vols scoring over 40.
  • John Brantley The Gators threw three interceptions against FAU, practically all in a row. (FlaGators points out in the comments that only two of these were Brantley, and one was a tip, but still.) If Tennessee can rattle him, he may take awhile to unrattle.
  • Florida still has plague at punt and kick returner, but Tennessee has developed a bit of immunity in those areas over the past 12 months or so, so perhaps special teams won't play as much of a role as it has in the recent history of this series.

Predictions

  • Tennessee 21, Florida 20. No, I'm not altogether confident in this.
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