5 Observations From Vols’ Comeback 38-28 Victory Over Florida

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    Photo Credit: Mason Burgin/RTI

    Photo Credit: Mason Burgin/RTI

    For the last 11 years, one thing hasn’t changed: The Florida Gators always beat the Tennessee Volunteers.

    Not anymore.

    After falling behind 21-0 in the second quarter, the Vols stormed their way back in the second half. Tennessee scored 38 unanswered points in a brilliant display of “complementary football.” After having five drops in the first half, Tennessee’s pass catchers hauled in big pass after big pass en route to Tennessee’s miraculous 38-28 victory over the Florida Gators.

    Here are five observations from Tennessee’s streak-busting win.

    Almost a Disastrous Start

    Florida had Tennessee’s number in the first half. The Gators were having their way on offense and defense both. Not only did the Gators take advantage of their opportunities, but they stopped the Vols from taking advantage of theirs.

    Tennessee took over at the Florida 2-yard line after Antonio Callaway fumbled a punt in the first quarter. But four plays later, the Vols ended up with no points. Later on, the Vols took over at Florida’s 46-yard line. Once again, they ended up with nothing.

    The Vols were 0-for-2 in the red zone to start the game. Callaway was torching Tennessee’s secondary repeatedly, and everything looked bleak when the Vols went to halftime down 21-3.

    But…

    If at First the Breaks Don’t Go You’re Way…

    Don’t let up. And the Vols didn’t.

    After being out-gained 168 yards to 35 yards in the first quarter and 300-162 for the entire first half, the Vols demolished the Gators in the second half, out-gaining them 154-8 in the third quarter and 336-102 for the whole second half.

    But they also outdid them where it mattered most: scoring points.

    Tennessee dumped on 35 points in the second half, and Florida wouldn’t score again until late in the fourth quarter to cut it to 38-28. But the Vols would ice it away.

    The Vols’ defense rattled Florida quarterback Austin Appleby in the second half, sacking him twice and intercepting him once after he had his way with them in the first half.

    Tennessee’s season has been defined by them overcoming slow starts. And they did it again against Florida.

    Dobbs Does It All

    After a brutal and forgetting first half, Josh Dobbs cemented himself as the MVP of this team with his second half performance.

    Dobbs ended the game with 319 passing yards, 80 rushing yards, and 5 total touchdowns. Dobbs completed just 9 passes in the second half, but he only attempted 12. And those 9 completions went for 235 yards and four scores.

    Dobbs made tough runs. He made great throws. He looked like a true leader out there for the Vols, and he was a huge reason Tennessee completed the comeback.

    Defense Blows It Up

    Bob Shoop’s magic show finally showed up. It just took him a half of SEC football to find his magician’s set.

    As mentioned above, the Vols limited Florida to just 102 yards in the second half, and they confused Austin Appleby almost every time he dropped back. Derek Barnett came alive in the second half, recording both of his sacks in the last half of the game. Emmanuel Moseley also had a strong second half, and the oft-criticized Colton Jumper did as well.

    It looked ugly to start, but Tennessee’s defense finally woke up and helped vault the Vols to victory.

    The Streak…It’s Over

    After 11 years of heartbreak, 11 years of futility and ineptitude, Vol fans finally have a reason to celebrate after a Florida game.

    For the first time since 2004, the Vols will leave the Florida game with a win. They did it without Cam Sutton, Darrin Kirkland Jr., or Jalen Reeves-Maybin for a large period of the game. They did it after trailing by three scores. They did it with Checker Neyland, the Smokey Grey jerseys, and College GameDay in town.

    Savor this feeling, Vol fans.

    Nathanael Rutherford is the managing editor and social media manager for Rocky Top Insider. Nathanael graduated from the University of Tennessee and cultivated a passion for the Vols while growing up in Knoxville a mere 10 minutes from Neyland Stadium. He's been a part of the RTI team since November of 2015 and has been the editor of RTI since June of 2017. If he's not talking or writing about Tennessee athletics, he's probably talking about Star Wars.