So, Florida. Florida might not be very good at football, and we can look at stats (why hello, bottom-of-the-conference passing game!1 what's up, 12+ YPA allowed against Alabama?) or the eye test (have you seen Florida football in the last couple years?
Fun fact: Florida has 6.6 YPA as a team this year, but Jeff Driskel has 5.5 YPA. Treon Harris has 74 YPA in 2 attempts and a QB rating of 1,051.60. I've literally never seen a rating that high before.
This means we get to ask a fun question:
IS JUSTIN WORLEY A BETTER QUARTERBACK THAN JEFF DRISKEL?
It's an insane question on its face, but Driskel has been awful this year. Clocking in with 5.5 YPA and a 5 TD/3INT ratio are some worse-than-freshman-Josh-Dobbs numbers (save the picks, but Driskel can throw at Cam Sutton a few times and fix that), and Worley's faced teams with pulses. Note here teams is plural for a reason.
The line between Alabama's pass defense and Tennessee's pass defense this year isn't insane (5.8 YPA vs. 6.1 YPA, and that's with Alabama playing Florida, and I bet you see what I did there) and Florida's pass defense looked ....sketchy against all non-EMU teams this year, to put it mildly. Vernon Hargreaves has to be pissed.
Before we coronate Worley as the victor in this battle, we missed a key factor: Driskel can actually run a little bit. He did a good job keeping plays alive against Alabama (11 runs, 59 yards), and given what we'll see in the next section it might not have been his fault. Meanwhile, Justin Worley will keep on a zone read if the entire defensive line just walks off the field at the snap, which: a) this might happen if the Vols get up big early and b) given the backup QB play I'm way more okay with this now than I was last week.
TENNESSEE SUCCEEDS IF: Worley total yards > Driskel total yards.
TENNESSEE FAILS IF: Driskel total yards > Worley total yards.
THE PREDICTION: we're gonna make you wait until the next section, because we missed talking about
FLORIDA'S UTTER LACK OF WIDE RECEIVERS
Joining Hargreaves in the "why am I on this team this year?" camp: Damarcus Robinson, who went off against Kentucky (15 rec, 214 yards). Robinson's numbers against Kentucky lead the team after three games. Shut Robinson down-which: hey, what up Cam Sutton!-and the catching game falls into the hands of Quinton Dunbar and Clay Burton, whose combined numbers are at least in the same ballpark at Robinson's numbers against Kentucky.
Tennessee, meanwhile, runs deep: five receivers have broken the 10-catch threshold (counting Josh Smith) and six have 100+ yards already (counting Smith again). Even assuming Smith and Von Pearson won't be able to go, that's enough depth to cause concern. Sure, Pig Howard and Ethan Wolf haven't cracked 9 yards per catch, but neither has Burton. Marquez North is going to have acres of fun against Hargreaves in what should be the matchup of the day, and if one of Jason Croom or Josh Malone can get on track, there should be more weapons on the Tennessee side of the ball.
OKAY, NOW FOR THE PREDICTION: Worley total yards > Driskel total yards. I don't trust Florida's receiving game even coming off a bye week; if the passing game was fixed, we would've seen it against Kentucky. Even if you give UF the benefit of the doubt, Blake Sims just wrecked their passing D. If you still doubt it: check the colors on the site.
BUT THE TEAM WHO WINS THE RUSHING BATTLE WINS THE GAME---
First off: hi, Gary Danielson! Glad you found our humble site, although I guess you found it searching these two words: Tim Tebow. ::sets trap::
Now that that's out of the way, Jalen Hurd is Tennessee's running game and I mean that in a very literal sense. He will get no help from the offensive line-we're going to do for opposing rushing D what Florida does for opposing passing D-and Florida's run D was decent in all their games. Tennessee's run defense hasn't been great, although Florida's running game also isn't great. (Contain your shock.)
Matt Jones and Kelvin Taylor form the rushing combo for Florida; Marlin Lane is the #2 guy.
And yes, you're going to hear that whole "the team with more rushing yards wins the game" trope trotted out this week, because correlation is the same as causation.
TENNESSEE SUCCEEDS IF: Hurd breaks 100 yards and Lane doesn't do anything damaging.
TENNESSEE FAILS IF: One of the UF running tandem establishes themselves as the Next Big Thing.
THE PREDICTION: Hurd creaks close to 90 and everybody only remembers two runs the entire game.
WAIT FLORIDA HAS A PUNTER
KYLE CHRISTY BACK! No prediction here, but it's worth noting that Christy might be the best punter in the nation and we have Matt Darr, who is not. Hidden yardage: it's a thing. (We were also spared a punt-off between Christy and Idaho punter Austin Rehkow. Poor, poor fate.)
THE SCORE PREDICTION: HAHAHAHAHAHAHA like i'm doing that Florida week in public given our losing streak. There is no way I can be rational here, and I've probably pissed off some people with my favorable comparisons between Worley and Driskel earlier. Why make it worse?
1 - yes, I'm aware Florida has 6.6 YPA in total this year and Tennessee has 6.4 YPA. My counter-argument: you included Eastern Michigan, who is averaging-averaging!-83 yards per game passing. In related news, if you've ever thrown a football and have college eligibility left, I've got a program you can look into. Also: EMU's defense allowed 10.2 YPA against Morgan State and 8.4 YPA against Florida, so popsicles and all that.↩