Tennessee Volunteers vs. Florida Gators Statsy 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. And yeah, it's a long post, so we put the conclusions and predictions at both the beginning and the end. You're not seeing double.

Sketchy Conclusions

  • Tennessee and Florida have each played a Somebody and a Nobody. Tennessee did better against each, for whatever that's worth.
  • Florida appears to be trying to find itself. They struggled against Bowling Green but then put the defensive hammer down on A&M in the second half. The offense still appears to be searching.
  • So far this season, Florida's passing offense is as bad as Tennessee's run game was last year. And what they do best (rushing) is little better than average.
  • Florida's defensive reputation may be a bit overblown right now, as their stats are nothing spectacular. Still, you can't ignore what they did to A&M in the second half last week. Perhaps they've found their groove.
  • A punt return game that features Devrin Young fair-catching all night is a success for the Vols.
  • Mike Gillislee is the key for the Gators on offense, but Mike Gillislee is no Chris Rainey.
  • Florida may outrush Tennessee this weekend, and it may not matter.
  • Everything above is SKETCHY, due to both teams having only played two games. And this is a rivalry, where all sorts of other factors come in to play.

Predictions

  • Tennessee 27, Florida 24.

Schedule and Animated Drive Charts

Florida Logo
Bowling Green Falcons 9/1/12 win 27 - 14 coverage
@ Texas A&M Aggies 9/8/12 win 20 - 17 coverage
Tennessee Logo
@ N.C. State Wolfpack 8/31/12 win 35 - 21 coverage
Georgia State Panthers 9/8/12 win 51 - 13 coverage

So both Tennessee and Florida have played a decent team and another team that's not so decent. It's probably safe to say that Bowling Green is better than Georgia State, but who knows by how much. Maybe the difference between 51-13 and 27-14. Against the decent teams, though, the Vols won comfortably by two TDs while the Gators won by a field goal. Theirs was away; ours was essentially . . . well, let's call it neutral but with more of our friends than theirs.

Here are Florida's drive charts to date:

FULL SCREEN VERSION

Animated Drive Chart brought to you by Gameday Depot.

FULL SCREEN VERSION

The Bowling Green game looks like it might have been much closer if the Falcons hadn't been so inept at kicking field goals and holding on to possessions.

As we've heard, the Gators defense clamped things down in the second half against the Aggies after getting knocked on their butts early. But look at that Florida offense. Not the Gators of old, right?

National Unit Rankings

OFFENSIVE RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
SEC Leader Actual
Rushing Offense 48 181.00 Air Force 387.00 6 Ole Miss 282.50
Passing Offense 110 155.00 Marshall 421.50 14 Tennessee 353.50
Total Offense 91 336.00 Oklahoma St. 659.00 11 Ole Miss 551.50
Scoring Offense 86 23.50 West Virginia 69.00 11 Georgia 43.00
Passing Efficiency 40 148.31 TCU 314.02 10 Alabama 198.56
Sacks Allowed 116 4.50 Arkansas St. .00 14 Mississippi St. .50

Offensive observations. So far anyway, Florida's passing offense this year is as bad as our running offense last year. And their run game isn't really setting the field on fire, either. And oh, that sacks allowed category looks like a freeway to the QB. This Gators offense is not high-powered. Not yet, at least.

DEFENSIVE RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
SEC Leader Actual
Rushing Defense 49 117.50 Connecticut 28.50 9 LSU 51.00
Pass Efficiency Defense 24 99.70 TCU 37.01 5 Mississippi St. 83.17
Total Defense 43 330.50 TCU 70.00 8 LSU 201.00
Scoring Defense 34 15.50 TCU .00 5 Alabama 7.00
Pass Defense 57 213.00 TCU 26.00 8 Vanderbilt 100.00
Sacks T-48 2.00 Texas A&M 8.00 8 Texas A&M 8.00
Tackles For Loss T-53 6.00 Oklahoma St. 11.50 7 Ole Miss 10.00

Defensive observations. So we've heard that despite their offensive woes, the Gators defense is scary, but these numbers don't really bear that out. They're fairly efficient against the pass, yet they're still giving up 213 yards through the air. They're decent at limiting points, yet everything else looks to be just a little better than average. I don't know how good A&M's offense is, but I bet it's not elite enough to account for this. And I do have some idea of how good Bowling Green's offense is. I am duct-taping my mouth right now, but perhaps you can decipher the muffles: BAAY GOULGH AIGHT EEES GAHS UUGH.

SPECIAL TEAMS AND TURNOVERS RANKINGS
Category National
Rank
Actual National
Leader
Actual Conf
Rank
SEC Leader Actual
Net Punting T-20 41.00 Texas 49.75 5 Texas A&M 49.67
Punt Returns 39 11.50 Northwestern 67.00 4 Missouri 22.88
Kickoff Returns 87 18.00 Southern Miss. 60.50 12 Auburn 33.80
Turnover Margin T-46 .50 Mississippi St. 3.50 6 Mississippi St. 3.50

Special teams and turnovers observations. Once again, not really what we're used to seeing from the Gators. Net punting and punt returns looks concerning enough, but it's not like it used to be when a special teams TD was practically a foregone conclusion. Perhaps I should have kept the duct tape on for that comment.

Players to Watch

Category Player National
Rank
Actual
OFFENSE
Rushing Mike Gillislee T-22 115.50
Passing Efficiency (Min. 15 Att./Game) Jeff Driskel 34 154.64
Total Offense Jeff Driskel 154.00
Mike Gillislee 115.50
Receptions Per Game Jordan Reed 4.00
Receiving Yards Per Game Jordan Reed 46.00
Frankie Hammond, Jr. 44.50
Scoring Mike Gillislee T-12 12.00
Caleb Sturgis 8.50

Offensive Observations. Senior RB Mike Gillislee is good, and sophomore QB Jeff Driskel is efficient. They apparently do not have any receivers on the team, as junior tight end Jordan Reed looks to be the team's best option through the air at this time. Oh, there is Frankie Hammond, Jr., who's a senior WR getting 44.5 yards per game. Okay.

Category Player National
Rank
Actual
DEFENSE
Interceptions Marcus Roberson T-35 .50
Sacks Jonathan Bostic T-93 .50
Dominique Easley T-93 .50
Lerentee McCray T-93 .50
Michael Taylor T-93 .50
Tackles Josh Evans 7.00
Tackles For Loss Jonathan Bostic T-51 1.50
Shariff Floyd 1.00

Defense. Again, apart from keeping A&M on their own side of the field for the second half last week, what is this group's reputation built on? Nobody's in the top quartile of the rankings.

Category Player National
Rank
Actual
SPECIAL TEAMS
Punting (Min. 3.6 Punts/Game) Kyle Christy 27 43.33
Punt Returns (Min. 1.2 Ret./Game) Andre Debose 29 11.50
Kickoff Returns (Min. 1.2 Ret./Game)
Field Goals Caleb Sturgis T-10 2.00
All-Purpose Runners Mike Gillislee T-65 122.50

Special teams. So forget what I said about special teams TDs earlier. Andre Debose is perfectly good and dangerous, maybe not to the level of all of those guys who haunt my dreams at this time every year, but certainly enough to be concerned about. And that punter looks good, too, so Devrin Young better be nice and calm and ready to just fair catch punts all night.

Head to Head Comparisons

Tennessee Logo Florida Logo
Comps
Result Against Comps
Prediction
UT rush v. Florida rush defense 187.50
(#42)
117.50
(#49)
NC State
(113)
(#42)
191 170
UT pass v. Florida pass defense 353.50
(#9)
213.00
(#57)
NC State
(268.50)
(#86)
333 280
Florida rush v. UT rush defense

105.50
(#36)

181.00
(#48)
NC State
(86.50)
(#107)
119 200
Florida pass v. UT pass defense 237.00
(#73)
181.00
(#110)
NC State
(246)
(#59)
288 180
UT scoring offense v. Florida scoring defense 43.00
(#15)
15.50
(#34)
NC State
(21.00)
(#52)
35 27
Florida scoring offense v. UT scoring defense 17.00
(#38)
23.50
(#86)
NC State
(15.50)
(#103)
21 24

Again with the caveats: These are informed guesses rather than mathematical calculations, and this early in the season, the guesses are particularly sketchy. But here's the general analytical framework: 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.

This week's example: We're averaging 187.50 yards per game on the ground. I know, right? Anyway, Florida is holding opponents to 117.50. The only real comparable right now is NC State, but they're pretty close to the Gators at 113 yards per game. Against the Wolfpack, we rushed for 191. So I could have just gone with 191 minus a couple of yards, but I'm giving Florida some credit for getting their heads right after Bowling Green and for playing A&M, which might be pretty good. So I went with 170 yards. Which still seems like a lot in this game, the history of which is littered with too many negative yardage games for the Vols. But still, that's what the numbers are saying. And there could be a great deal of variance in this area, too, because CP's huge plays are largely responsible for our good rushing number, and betting on huge plays happening every game gives me heartburn.

So I have the Vols getting 450 yards and the Gators getting 380, Florida beating us on the ground, but us beating them by more through the air. I'm guessing that we give up our average on points and score fewer than our average but still enough to win. Am I confident about any of this? No.

Sketchy Conclusions

  • Tennessee and Florida have each played a Somebody and a Nobody. Tennessee did better against each, for whatever that's worth.
  • Florida appears to be trying to find itself. They struggled against Bowling Green but then put the defensive hammer down on A&M in the second half. The offense still appears to be searching.
  • So far this season, Florida's passing offense is as bad as Tennessee's run game was last year. And what they do best (rushing) is little better than average.
  • Florida's defensive reputation may be a bit overblown right now, as their stats are nothing spectacular. Still, you can't ignore what they did to A&M in the second half last week. Perhaps they've found their groove.
  • A punt return game that features Devrin Young fair-catching all night is a success for the Vols.
  • Mike Gillislee is the key for the Gators on offense, but Mike Gillislee is no Chris Rainey.
  • Florida may outrush Tennessee this weekend, and it may not matter.
  • Everything above is SKETCHY, due to both teams having only played two games. And this is a rivalry, where all sorts of other factors come in to play.

Predictions

  • Tennessee 27, Florida 24.
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