The Tennessee Volunteers lost to the No. 11 Florida Gators on Saturday night in Gainesville. The game, for the most part, was a tale of two halves.
During the first half, Tennessee looked like a formidable underdog. They had mistakes here and there thanks to some sporadic moments. But overall, they not only carried a lead during the first half but was a missed field goal away from being tied as the half expired. However, the wheels fell off during the second half. Tennessee was beaten by more a talented opponent, yes, but they also beat themselves.
“The defense wasn’t really doing much, as far as when we had a lot of third-and-long situations,” Tennessee WR JaVonta Payton said after the game. “They were playing cover two a lot. As far as changing their defense, it was pretty much the same. It was just about us trying new plays and doing new things. I don’t think the defense really changed much.”
After the game in Gainesville, two Tennessee players, along with head coach Josh Heupel, all spoke to the media about the game.
The Tennessee players, defensive back Alontae Taylor and wide receiver JaVonta Payton gave their view of how the game transpired and talked about what they need to do this week to improve. However, Taylor did make sure to get one point out crystal clear.
“We won’t fall apart,” Taylor said. “Let me start off with that. We are going to get closer as a team, we are going to watch film, and continue to build that bond. Come next week, we will handle that when it comes. One thing I will say is that we will not fall apart this year and you can quote me on that.”
Tennessee DB Alontae Taylor
“We were just positive,” Taylor said on the team’s mood at halftime. “Everybody just had a good mindset and the coaches were making sure we stayed even-keeled. Not too high, not too low. We knew that we had another half of football to play. On top of that, we knew we had them by their necks, we just had to come out and do what we were supposed to do and we didn’t execute well. We have to go back to the film room, see the things we messed up on, and get ready for a good team in Missouri next week.”
Tennessee WR JaVonta Payton
“I realized I was open immediately,” Payton said about his 75-yard touchdown play. “The safety crashed hard, so I knew I was going to be open. Connecting on that was amazing. It’s just about executing our plays in practice. We are going over that constantly – executing the plays at a very high level. It was just amazing getting that opportunity and getting to put up points for the Vols.”