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Most Important Vol: Florida

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Our writing staff makes its picks for the week’s most important player.

NCAA Football: Battle at Bristol-Tennessee vs Virginia Tech Randy Sartin-USA TODAY Sports

Last week: pass protection won the poll, and while there was still pressure, Josh Dobbs did have his most accurate day as a Vol. This week: Tennessee will need something from all of these options.

Will Shelton - Derek Barnett

New quarterback, new corner. There are many old truths in the Tennessee-Florida series, and some of them will undoubtedly come into play again on Saturday. But the Tennessee player who has the biggest chance to make a defining impact on this game is Derek Barnett. He should get a look at something a little closer to a pocket passing offense this week. And Austin Appleby has yet to get a look at anything like this, no matter what he thinks of Nebraska or our friends from Iowa. If the Vols are going to win, they'll likely do so because Florida missed Luke Del Rio more than Tennessee missed Cam Sutton. And the best way to miss Cam Sutton less and help Baylen Buchanan and the rest of the secondary more is for Barnett to be all up in Appleby like it's the only sit-down restaurant in town. Lots of our defensive pillars have cracked or crumbled due to injury. But Derek Barnett is still standing. Dominate.

Incipient_Senescence - Butch Jones

There are serious concerns on the offensive line, at linebacker, and in the secondary, and we all know what a difference a good game from Josh Dobbs can make. But Tennessee's biggest problem against Florida the last two years has been mental. They broke under pressure, and that starts with the man at the top. The most important thing for Tennessee this weekend is Butch Jones coaching with confidence. If he does, the Vols will play with confidence.

Justin R. Phillips - Bob Shoop

UT has a nice, new fancy defensive coordinator because the last guy made a call during the 2015 Florida game that extended the losing streak to eleven. What will Shoop do given another 4th and 14 scenario? We're led to believe that the house will be dropped on Austin Appleby like he's the Wicked Witch of the East. We'll see. As for now, Shoop needs to unleash a few new wrinkles, be it the teased "Magic Show" or something else, to ensure there is no repeat of last year. Unfortunately, he'll have to do so without Kirkland, Sutton, and who knows who else by the time Saturday rolls around. This is where you earn your money: facing a first-time SEC starter who's making his debut on the road in Neyland Stadium.

My advice: Take a break from watching film, coach, and check out the new Netflix hit Stranger Things. Let the name of the heroine, "Eleven", just burn into your brain. Sounds a little too familiar doesn't it, like you've heard about it too much this week? Well then, take inspiration from Eleven's telekinetic powers - her supernatural ability to move objects with her mind - and just drop the Big Orange House on top of the Gators.

Hunter Turner - Shy Tuttle

Florida is likely to play with a new quarterback, who is likely to be a senior transfer who couldn't win the starting job at Purdue. Let me repeat myself: PURDUE. Do you think that maybe Florida's coaching staff will plan to lean on the run and the short-passing game against Tennessee's banged up linebackers and cornerbacks? If Tennessee wants to win this game, then the Vols' defensive line needs to decisively win the matchup against the Gators' offensive line, and Derek Barnett can't do it on his own. Shy Tuttle is a round mound of beatdown, and the Vols need him to play like vintage John Henderson on Saturday.

Chris Pendley - OL Du Jour

Assuming everyone on the line is healthy, you can sub in your favorite/least favorite OL member as appropriate. But do y'all remember the "all the scheming in the world won't save you if your OL can't do anything" conversations from 2010-2011? I was hoping we had left those conversations in the past, but Florida's defensive line is really good. Like, scary good.

If Tennessee has a shot at winning this game, OL Du Jour better have been playing possum so far this year.

Volundore - You (if you're going to be in Neyland)

Let's start by pouring one out for Chris' weekly selection of Cam Sutton...it's been a good 3+ years, buddy.

Look, it's been 12 years since we beat Florida, and we've had our heart broken in so many ways. One point losses? We've had 3 of 'em (2006, 2014, and 2015). Fake punts of ours that didn't work? Yep (2005). Fake punts of theirs that did? You bet (2010). We've been blasted (2007, 2008), I-can't-hear-you-Rocky-Top-is-playing'd (2009), ACL'd (2011), Sunseri'd (2012), and Peterman'd (2013).

But the karmic debts of the personal foul call that shouldn't have been in 2004 have been paid. And if you're in the stands on Saturday, it's time to act like it. When things are going well? Cheer. When Florida makes a run? Cheer louder. The team and the coaching staff bring enough Florida related baggage into this game. We simply won't win if the atmosphere is more akin to Neyland Mausoleum, last seen against Arkansas last year. I hope that if I tell the royal you now how important you are to the game's outcome, you'll remember I said it and yell loudly in a crucial moment.