Know Your Opponent: Quick-Scouting the Florida Gators

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    Here is the good, the bad and the ugly from Florida’s game against Alabama two weeks ago in which Florida eventually fell 42-21. The Gators had some positive moments, but ultimately collapsed in a second half that resulted in the most yards ever surrendered by a Florida defense in the history of their program.

    Here’s what we saw:

    1st Quarter:

    15:00: This is the prototypical opening drive for Florida from a play calling standpoint – pass, run up the middle, pass. They will try to roll out Jeff Driskel often to allow him to use his legs to extend plays. Tennessee will have to keep an eye on Driskel to keep him from taking off down the field for huge chunks of yards. The Vols have done a nice job with mobile quarterbacks so far this season, and they must continue that trend on Saturday.

    14:07: Florida’s punter is outstanding, but his strong leg should give Cam Sutton a chance at a return or two.

    13:59: Florida goes with a single safety over the top and Alabama cooks them on the outside for a touchdown. Tennessee will have some opportunities to take shots down the field in this game, if they can connect on a deep ball or two early then they should be able to force Florida to run two safeties over the top and open up the running game.

    13:35: This is the run/pass option play that is becoming more common in college football. Tennessee has to be aware of this play to avoid getting beat for a cheap play by selling out on the run as soon as they see the handoff action.

    12:13: After last week’s game, protecting the football has been a focal point on the practice field this week. As you can see, Florida knows how to disrupt the football.

    9:35: (Same as above). Florida’s defense is struggling this year, but they do a nice job of forcing turnovers. Tennessee can beat this team if they limit the mistakes that have plagued them over the last two games. Florida does a great job of holding up the ball carrier to allow other players to come in and knock it free. This is back-to-back turnovers for Alabama…Tennessee cannot afford that this weekend.

    9:21: Very nearly a third turnover by Alabama.

    -It’s pretty clear that Driskel isn’t running as well as he has in previous years. Tennessee certainly needs to respect his ability to run, but he doesn’t look nearly as mobile as he did before his ankle injury.

    4:23: No clue how this happens. Florida’s secondary leaves the best receiver in the country unguarded and Bama tacks on an easy score. Nothing about this play makes sense for Florida.

    1:10: Terrible interception by Driskel, but up until that play Florida was putting together a nice drive by leaning on running back Matt Jones. Jones isn’t an elite talent but he runs extremely hard and is difficult to tackle. Tennessee’s plan for Gurley will be different than what they do for Jones, but don’t sleep on his ability to make some plays.

    2nd Quarter:

    13:25: This play should terrify you if you’re a Tennessee fan. The Gator d-line is extremely quick and athletic and basically blow this play up before it starts. Tennessee has struggled to stop defensive linemen from penetrating the backfield this year, but they cannot allow plays like this to happen. Here, Leon Orr skinnies up and bursts through the line to demolish Blake Sims…Luckily for Tennessee, Orr is out this weekend with an injury.

    10:18: Here is an example of what Driskel can do when he has a running lane. He isn’t going to power for yards or make people miss in the open field, but he can get some yards if you forget about him and focus only on the running back. Hutson Mason did this with some success last week and Driskel is a much better athlete than Mason is.

    7:25: Great play by Alabama to run the play-action pass here. Florida’s defense is not very disciplined, so they are typically quick to bite on the run. Here, Sims does a nice job of rolling out after the fake to create a throwing lane to find his fullback for the touchdown. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Tennessee go to a similar play with a designed rollout in the red zone if they get the opportunity.

    4:40: Much like Georgia, Florida’s defense has been vulnerable giving up chunk plays over the middle of the field. If the offensive line can protect Justin Worley, then the Vols should be able to hit some easy throws over the middle to move the chains. As Florida moves up to take the short throws away, Tennessee can then try to hit them over the top with the tight ends or the slot receiver. Ethan Wolf and Pig Howard had nice days by making plays in the middle of the field against UGA and should be able to have a similar impact on this week’s game.

    2:52: Expect to see Tennessee bring back the wildcat formation from time to time this week. Bama was able to have success with it against Florida and the Vols put up some nice yardage running it last week against the dogs.

    3rd Quarter:

    15:00: For all of his talents, Hargreaves does everything wrong on this one. He fails to get a hand on Cooper at the line and gives him a free release down the sideline for an easy pitch & catch for Alabama. Cooper is probably the best receiver in the country, but Tennessee will have some opportunities to complete deep passes if Florida defensive backs fail to jam Vol receivers at the line. This play is called back, but the point still stands.

    13:28: This play is everything that Tennessee can’t afford to have happen this weekend.

    12:48: This is where Driskel is dangerous. Alabama sells out on the pass and plays man to man coverage. Florida calls a designed draw because they know that nobody in crimson will have their eyes on the quarterback. Driskel gets some great blocks and uses his momentum to carry him into the end zone.

    11:06: More wildcat success for Alabama in a short-yardage situation.

    9:29: Coverage sack here that nearly resulted in another turnover. Justin Worley will have to have his mental clock working well this weekend to avoid plays like this. There will be plays where the receivers will be well covered and Worley has to just accept the fact that an incompletion is better than a sack or possible turnover.

    8:12: The middle of the field has to be a point of emphasis for the Vol offense this week. To put it simply, Florida is weak there and the Vols have the perfect arsenal of weapons to exploit it.

    6:05: This play needs to be called a minimum of three times this weekend for Jalen Hurd. Florida is extremely aggressive in pass-rush situations and a well-timed screen play like this one could end up being a huge play for Tennessee in this game. Hurd has the speed and quickness to take a pass like this to the house from anywhere on the field.

    3:28: Start here and watch Alabama run the ball down Florida’s throat for five straight plays. Florida’s defensive line wore down late in this game and Alabama was able to lean on them a little bit. If Tennessee will remain committed to running the football, then they could have success on te ground this weekend, even if Florida stops it early in the game.

    4th Quarter:

    14:05: Driskel panics under pressure and tosses one up into tight double coverage. In obvious passing situations, Tennessee needs to utilize guys like Curt Maggitt and Chris Weatherd and force Driskel to make quick decisions. He hasn’t shown the ability to make accurate throws under pressure and has chosen the wrong place to go with the football multiple times this year when defenders are closing in on him.

    13:11: Another screen pass that catches Florida unprepared.

    11:35: Florida is just getting blown off of the ball by Alabama’s offensive line at this point.

    10:14: If Florida decides to run single coverage against Vol receivers in the red zone like this, I would expect the same result.

    -Garbage time the rest of the way. Florida is a very athletic team that lacks discipline and is prone to make a lot of mistakes. If Tennessee can protect the quarterback and the football then they should have a great chance to win this game going away.