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We answer your best questions about Tennessee athletics and anything else in our weekly mailbag, Insider Mailing.
“Will we see the turnover Trash Can used this week and how important is this for a Vol victory?” – Steve
Nathanael: With as bad as Florida’s offense looked in Week 1 against Michigan, I want to say “yes” to this. The Gators fumbled three times in that game along with totaling just 11 rushing yards and both Franks and Zaire completing only 53.8 percent of their passes. I’m iffy on this one, but I’m going to go ahead and say yes that the Vols will force at least one turnover in this one and that it is imperative to Tennessee winning this game.
Will: If Tennessee doesn’t get Florida to turn the ball over, the Vols will not win. I think we absolutely have to see the trash can, because I’m not sure Quinten Dormady can pick apart an elite Florida secondary with inexperienced receivers. In order for the Vols to have a chance, they have to score at least seven points off of a giveaway.
“Does Carlin Fils-Aime get significant playing time against the Gators?” – Peyton
Nathanael: I still think Ty Chandler will get more carries than CFA as the season goes along, but I think CFA’s running style works better for this game than Chandler’s. I expect Chandler to get more carries in the season than Fils-Aime, but I think that’s different for this game. With that being said, John Kelly will still be the workhorse and will probably get around 20 carries in this one.
Will: I think he earned more playing time with his play at Indiana State last weekend. Fils-aime gives you a change of pace that I still don’t think Ty Chandler quite has. I think those two should combine for eight or nine carries, with Chandler likely having the majority of those snaps. But Fils-aime should be featured in the passing game. In last week’s film, I noticed how patient he is with the ball. When he has blockers setting up downfield, he does a good job waiting until they’ve cleared the way. I think Tennessee will rely heavily on short, intermediate passes to its running backs in order to make things easier on Dormady. Fils-aime is a good guy to use in that scheme.
“Do you believe Bituli should start over Colton Jumper?” – @Vols8625
Nathanael: I’m holding off on benching Jumper till I see how he performs in this game. He hasn’t been bad so far this season at all, but his lack of athleticism has shown itself at times. Bituli doesn’t struggle with that, and that’s why I think he’ll eventually get more time and maybe even split reps with Jumper. I think Bituli will play plenty in this game, but I expect Jumper to get the start, and I think that’s the correct call for now.
Will: If Austin Smith is back, absolutely. But he’s not ready to return quite yet. I still think you’ll see some 4-3 sets with both Jumper and Bituli on the field at the same time. So the term “starter” is relative here. Bituli is a special talent, and Tennessee needs him to have a huge game this weekend. I think you’ll see him more than you’ll see Jumper, but that simply depends on what UT’s base defense is. If the Vols line up in a 4-2-5 with Rashaan Gaulden playing the majority of the game, then I do think the two linebackers need to be Bituli and McDowell.
“Do you think the coaching staff has only used small % of the playbook on both sides of the ball? Saving a lot of options for this game.” – Keith
Nathanael: I’ve wondered that myself, and I think it’s true. But only to an extent. I think the offense had to pull out some more of their playbook than they would’ve liked in the first game of the season so they could get that win, but I think the defense hasn’t truly been the defense we’ll see the rest of the season yet. Tennessee has faced a flexbone/option offense in Week 1 and another unconventional option-type offense in Week 2 as well. Florida’s offense is much more conventional, and I think we’ll finally see what Tennessee’s defense can do. I still don’t know how good the defense will be, but I don’t expect them to be absolutely torched like they were against Georgia Tech.
Will: Defensively, I think they’ve absolutely saved most everything. Bob Shoop even alluded to that when we talked to him Tuesday. Offensively, the coaches are still trying to keep things simple for Quinten Dormady. And I don’t think that will neccesarily change this weekend. Yeah, we may see some trick plays like Butch has shown in past trips to the swamp, but the last thing you want to do is make Dormady more uncomfortable than he already will be.
“Any chance we see Will Ignont and Deandre Johnson on defense in Gainesville?” – @CGShaw117
Nathanael: I definitely think Deandre Johnson sees the field, and I think he sees a decent amount of it too. Without him, the Vols really just have three defensive ends they rotate. They need a fourth player to step into that rotation, and he’s looked the best of the younger crop of guys. Ignont should get some playing time too, but I think Johnson gets more.
Will: Deandre Johnson may get 5-10 snaps. Bob Shoop told us he’s close, but maybe not quite ready to take a very prominent role. Ignont is probably a little further away from playing at this point. That being said, I think Johnson needs to play. UT needs more of a rotation at defensive end if they want any kind of effectiveness from Darrell Taylor and Jonathan Kongbo.
“Should Shoop be fired if Florida’s pitiful offense embarrasses us?” – @RockyTop10ED
“Who’s worse, Bob Shoop or Sal Sunseri?” – T
Nathanael: To the first one: No. To the second one: Sunseri, and it’s not even close.
Will: Seriously? No. Bob Shoop…the defensive coordinator who shut down Florida in the second half a year ago…is not as bad as Sunseri, whose defense gave up 471 yards per game. Even with an insane amount of injuries last season, Shoop’s numbers weren’t even that bad.