clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Monday Musings: Turning the page to Florida

Tennessee v Florida Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

A happy Monday afternoon to all of you Tennessee fans. Welcome to Monday Musings, which is a new series that’s an unfiltered dump from my head of all of my orange-and-white colored thoughts of the day.

Without further ado, let’s get to it.......

1) Last week was something ugly, but at a beautiful time.

That was a stinky dud of a game. I kept waiting for the Vols to pop one on offense, but it kept not coming. Between regular misfires from Joe Milton, wide receivers dropping passes, run blocking inconsistencies, and general uninspired play, the malaise dragged on and on.

However, if there’s anything that would serve as a wake-up call, it would be this. And Tennessee players reportedly held a closed-door meeting on Sunday in which Milton shouldered a large part of the blame and Tennessee players agreed they need to increase the intensity this week.

So a bad performance that results in both a win and a wake-up call for one of the most important games of the year can, oddly enough, be a positive.

2) And, really, if Tennessee goes 10-2 or 11-1 - marks that I would call a very successful season - would anybody really care that they won a buy game 30-13 in the second week of the season?

That’s a big fat nope from this author.

3) So it’s time to close the book on that game and turn towards one of the greatest weeks of every Vol fan’s year: Florida week.

Yeah, it hasn’t given us much happiness over the last couple of decades, but Tennessee appears to be built for this and has the edge in perceived talent and coaching heading into Gainesville for the first time in forever. I honestly can’t remember the last time I felt this confident going into Gainesville. Certainly not any time since Phillip Fulmer’s departure.

So yes, it’s a week that Vol fans can be hopeful about, and not have quiet a sense of dread over. That alone should speak volumes about the direction that Josh Heupel has pointed this program in year three.

4) The key on offense to a win over the Florida Gators is pretty obvious: Milton’s arm. I say that because, unless Napier is a fool (I won’t answer whether or not he is), he will do everything to crash the line and attack Tennessee’s running game. I could see him putting him corners on an island and force Milton to complete contested throws. So far this year, that’s been a challenge for Milton to do even with extremely open receivers. So it will be on Milton to get in a rhythm early and try to build some confidence from the start. Easy throws. Working the edge. Force Florida to defend the perimeter.

Tennessee will have some success on the ground regardless, don’t get me wrong. However, Milton is going to have to complete some big throws to win this game. That improvement from the first two weeks has to happen on Saturday.

5) Defensively, it comes down to whether Tennessee’s defensive line can steal the show for the third straight week.

They absolutely dominated the Virginia Cavaliers’ offensive line and held Austin Peay to 2.3 yards per carry.

Florida ran for over 300 yards against McNeese State last week, but we’re talking about McNeese State. Utah held the Gators to 13 rushing yards on 21 attempts. Between that and an early 14-3 lead, the Utes forced Florida to put the ball in QB Graham Mertz’s hands, and while he moved the offense well at times, the Gators couldn’t put up points.

That’s a blueprint for taking down Florida and one that Tennessee is equipped to follow.

I’ll have my game prediction up at the end of the week with the rest of the staff.