It's the elephant in the room. A looming shadow that Tennessee football just can't shake. The Vols have lost to the Florida Gators for ten straight years. Jim McElwain will be looking to make that streak eleven on Saturday and it will be hard to not think about the streak from kickoff to final whistle. It's a curse that Butch Jones must break to ultimately be successful in Knoxville.
But Vol football players aren't thinking about it at all.
According to star cornerback Cam Sutton today, the coaches haven't mentioned the streak and he doesn't even know how many time in a row Tennessee has lost to the Gators. "It's a new year. This is a new football team... Each week is a new season of its own" Sutton said.
Should the coaches be emphasizing the streak, using it for motivation?
Is it better if the staff keeps it out of the players mind so they don't feel a need to break the streak?
Fans can debate the merits of each approach but the fact is, Butch Jones and his coaching staff have decided to make Florida just another game. But we all know it's not just another game. It's the most important game of Butch Jones' career at Tennessee. It's a must-win if he wants to keep fans engaged and believing in this team. It's a must-win to build confidence and bravado for his players going into a killer stretch of SEC games. It's a must win to break Florida's winning streak. Butch may not want to emphasize the curse that is the Florida Gators to his players, but it's there and it's real and fans want to see it end.