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Florida Trucks Tennessee, Vols Must Recover Quickly

by | Sep 23, 2019 | Tennessee Volunteers Analysis, VOL Articles, VOL Football 2019

GAINESVILLE, FLA—  As Tennessee head football coach Jeremy Pruitt walked to the center of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium to shake hands with Florida’s Dan Mullen, the clock officially expired and the University of Florida Gators defeated the University of Tennessee once again. It was the 3rd straight victory for Florida over Tennessee and their 8th straight over the Volunteers in the Swamp as they continue to own Tennessee in this rivalry. Florida dominated Tennessee from the first snap and the Vols really never had a shot in the matchup. There’s no way to explain it other than to say that Florida beat Tennessee every which way they could, dominating almost every game statistic in their 34-3 dismantling of UT.

Starting quarterback Jarrett Guarantano was benched in favor of true freshman Brian Maurer to start the 2nd half, and there has been much speculation about the quarterback situation due to Guarantano’s struggles in the first 4 games of the season. To say the least, Tennessee will have a lot to figure out about what kind of team they want to be during the upcoming BYE week. Tennessee must use this BYE week effectively and straighten out all of their problems during it if they want to salvage the remainder of this season. It’s no secret that making a quick recovery is vital for this season and Jeremy Pruitt’s tenure in Knoxville. If the Vols are able to get prepared heading into their matchup against Georgia, who defeated Notre Dame 23-17 yesterday, it could build some momentum as the Vols head into a must-win game against Mississippi State. Upsetting Georgia would be an absolutely unreal turn of events for this program, but it is very unlikely to happen. The more realistic best-case scenario for UT in this game is to not get blown out, compete with UGA, and not suffer any key injuries that could harm Tennessee’s chances going into an all-important matchup with MSU. It’s sad that Tennessee has fallen to the level of “just don’t get blown out” but it is the inconvenient truth that is surrounding this program right now.

 In many ways, the game in a few weeks against the Bulldogs of Mississippi State could dictate Tennessee’s season. If the Vols win the matchup in Neyland Stadium, they could get some wind back in the sails to get out of the 2 or 3 win range that is considered the basement for UT. Now to the contrary, if Tennessee loses the opposite could also be true. The Volunteers would then be looking down the barrel of a 2 or 3 win season and could ultimately be looking at another coaching search in a month or two. 

Some more critical games that will determine the future of the program will be Kentucky and Missouri. The Vols need to split those two games if they want to earn back the support of this fanbase. Both games would be winnable for Tennessee, but the Vols would likely be an underdog against both of the teams on the road. UAB is also an interesting game as the Blazers are off to a 3-0 start to their season, and could entertain the possibility of an upset later in the season. Vanderbilt, which is also a key game to the season, will also be a must-win for Tennessee as they currently are on a 3 game losing streak to the Commodores. While all of these games are important it all circles back to the matchup against Mississippi State. If the Vols fall to MSU, can they rebound to get road wins against teams like UK and Mizzou? The answer is probably not, and if they can’t pick up wins against teams like Kentucky and Missouri, you’re probably looking at a 2 or 3 win season. 

In the end, if Tennessee can rebound quickly and put this loss behind them it may just be enough to save Pruitt’s job at the end of the season and win him back the support of Vol Nation. It’s time to start winning, this fanbase deserves it.

Luke A. Thomas

Luke A. Thomas

Senior Writer

Luke was born in Murfreesboro, Tennessee and grew up with a passion for SEC Football.

His career in journalism started in 2016 when he covered his hometown MTSU Blue Raiders. He would later go on to cover the local Vanderbilt Commodores before he would begin covering the Volunteers. He wrote for SBNation, covering UT Athletics before joining Volunteer Roadshow in May of 2019. At Volunteer Roadshow he covers all things Tennessee, with a focus on UT Football and Basketball.

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