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Tennessee vs. Florida Stat & Score Predictions
3:30p, CBS
Posted: Friday, September 15th, 2017, 8:10 AM • Permalink
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I'll be honest with you. I don't really know how to feel about this game. This time last year, I, like most people it seemed, thought Tennessee was going to roll Florida, and we were right. Today, I just feel...confused. That's part of the reason this blog is so late (and potentially unfinished).

Tony asked a great question on the show today (9/14/17). His premise was that, especially with WR Antonio Callaway, RB Jordan Scarlett, and 7 other players out for the Gators--more on this later--Tennessee is better than Florida. But why, he asked, does it feel like fool's gold?

As I said before, I'm confused and conflicted, too. But I think I can tell you why Tony thinks favoring the Vols over the Gators this time is "fool's gold." Unfortunately, most of it boils down to coaching, specifically the UT head coach and defensive coordinator--not the first time offensive coordinator calling his first SEC game, on the road in The Swamp, no less. Here's what worries me. This coaching staff makes some of the goofiest decisions I've ever seen. A few examples:

⁃ Screaming math problems at WRs during practice to "help teach them to multitask"
⁃ Quoting 4-year kicker-icing studies
⁃ Charts that tell them to kick FGs from the 6-inch line
- Other charts that tell them not to go for 2 when up 5 late in the game
⁃ Timeouts that help the opposing team when they're disorganized & time is running out
⁃ The Tennessee Trash Can
⁃ Defensive "lineman-backers" in an 0-6-5 formation

Even if these aren't the head coach's ideas, he allows them to happen. Add to that these extremely scientific formulae--yes, that is the plural of formula...but we can call them formulas if you're more comfortable with that--that I derived from years of study in much the same way Butch studies icing kickers:

SEC Game + rivalry + comparable talent + BAD UT defense + BAD UF offense = Close game

Close game + odd decisions + below average game manager = fool's gold

Plus, Florida's history of "suspensions," especially during the week of the Tennessee game, makes me doubt those 9 players are REALLY out until the refs say game over.

So, I could break down the stats for you. I could run down the Florida QBs and the backups at RB and WR and tell you what each did (or, more appropriately, did NOT do) against Michigan in the season opener. I could tell you that, without their 2 defensive TDs, Florida basically wouldn't have scored. But you know that or have read it somewhere else by now. More to the point, I'm not sure how much it matters. After all, we have scientific formulaes (it's a compromise) on our side. And they say we're in for a close one.

Oh, by the way, I predicted this game would be a loss before the start of the season. I thought it would be a close one, however. I would have set the line somewhere between -1.5 and -3.0 in favor of Florida. But Vegas had this as an 8-point loss for the Vols when the betting first opened, meaning they really thought this game wouldn't be all that close.

Despite that--and my weird, bad feeling about this game--those suspensions, assuming they stick, might have me changing my tune.

Expect Dormady to look a little more comfortable in this game and in each game as the season goes on. I still expect some drops and poor routes from the WRs and TEs and a bad read or decision (or 2) on QD's part to make his stat line look a little worse than it should. Look for him to go 18-29 for 221 yds, 2 TDs and 1 INT. Expect him to carry it 6 times for -4 yds (including sacks). Do not expect to see Guarantano in this game.

Expect John Kelly to finally get the chance from the coaches to be the focal point of the offense, totaling 24 carries for 108 yards and 1 TD on the ground to go with 4 catches for 24 yards and 1 TD. Expect Ty Chandler to help with 8 carries for 24 yds and 2 rec for 8 yds and no TDs.

Expect WR Marquez Callaway to continue to be our playmaker with 5 catches for 96 yds and 1 TD. Expect veteran Josh Smith to do what Josh Smith does and show up big in big games with 4 catches for 56 yds and 3 first downs. Look for TEs Ethan Wolfe and Jakob Johnson to both grab big 1st down receptions as well. Don't be surprised if Josh Palmer has a big play that sets up a score.

Look for Nigel Warrior (INT?) and/or TK, Jr (Forced Fumble +/- recovery) to show up with a timely turnover.

Despite the Gators' excellent punter and placekicker, look for the Vols' special teams to completely out-play Florida's, especially in the return game with Antonio Callaway (presumably) suspended.. Expect Trevor Daniel to flip the field several times with 5 punts for an average of 44 yds (lower than usual due to shorter fields) with 4 inside the 20.

Expect Callaway to return 4 punts for a total of 56+ yards. Look for Evan Berry and Ty Chandler to each have a huge 35+ yard KO return. And 1 of those 3 return men will score (my money is on Berry).

Expect both kickers Aaron Medley (1-1 FG, 36 yards) and Brent Cimaglia (1-1 FG, 47 yds) to make their only FG attempts, with Cimaglia handling the 40+ yarders.

And expect a final score of...

Tennessee 34, Florida 23

Maybe my Big Orange wool coat is getting a little thick, but, if those suspensions hold, I think Florida's putrid offense succumbs to our putrid defense. Anyway, here's hopin'...


And, if you missed it, CLICK HERE to see how close we got on our predictions for the stats and score for the Indiana St. game.

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