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    (Photo via Phelan M. Ebenhack/AP Photo)

    Want to know everything there is to know about the Vols’ upcoming opponent, the No. 9 Florida Gators? Then our latest podcast is for you.

    We spoke with Graham Hall of the Gainesville Sun to get the lowdown on the Gators ahead of Tennessee’s match-up with them on Saturday. What kind of quarterback is Kyle Trask? How much will Emory Jones play at QB along with Trask? Who are some injured Gators who may or may not suit up for the game? Can Tennessee win the line of scrimmage battle on either side of the ball? What will the atmosphere likely be like in The Swamp?

    Graham answers those questions and more in our special interview podcast!

    Make sure you don’t miss an episode of any of our podcasts! Subscribe to the podcast on Apple Podcasts here! And make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for another way to experience the podcast!

      (Photo via Austin Perryman/Tennessee Athletics)

      Two Vols who have grabbed headlines for the wrong reasons over the last few weeks will be making the trip down to Gainesville with the rest of their Tennessee teammates this weekend.

      Tennessee head coach Jeremy Pruitt said after practice on Wednesday that both sophomore defensive back Bryce Thompson and sophomore linebacker Jeremy Banks will travel with the Vols when they go down to The Swamp to take on the No. 9 Florida Gators on Saturday.

      “They’re gonna travel,” Pruitt said when asked specifically about both Thompson and Banks.

      A team’s travel roster is much smaller than the allotted roster space for home games. Football teams usually only take around 70 players with them on road trips as opposed to being allowed their full allotment of 85 scholarship players and some walk-ons during home games.

      Thompson had been serving an indefinite suspension stemming from an incident during the weekend of August 24th where he was charged with domestic assault. Pruitt and Tennessee announced that Monday, August 26th, that Thompson would be suspended indefinitely as the process played on.

      During mid-week last week, Pruitt and Tennessee announced that Thompson’s suspension had been lifted, and he would be allowed back at practice. While Thompson practiced, he didn’t play on Saturday when the Vols hosted UT-Chattanooga.

      Because of that missed time, Pruitt says Thompson has to earn his playing time all over again.

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      “He’s been participating. It’s one of the things you can see, guys that don’t participate in fall camp, whether it’s injury and they have to play early in the season, they don’t play as well,” Pruitt said. “He’s missed a lot of time here in the last few weeks. He’s gotta kinda earn his way back out there.”

      Thompson was a freshman All-American in 2018 during his first year with Tennessee, but he hadn’t practiced with the team for two and a half weeks before being reinstated by Pruitt last week. Alontae Taylor, Warren Burrell, and Kenneth George Jr. have all started at the two main cornerback positions for the Vols in the first three weeks of the season in Thompson’s absence.

      It remains to be seen if Thompson will see the field against Florida on Saturday, but he’ll at least be on the sideline and available to play if Pruitt and his staff deem him ready.

      For Banks, his off-field incident wasn’t nearly as major as Thompson’s.

      It was reported earlier this week that Banks was arrested after 3 AM on Sunday morning after being pulled over for making an illegal U-turn. While making the U-turn was a minor violation, Banks was arrested because he had a warrant out for his arrest stemming from a failure to appear in court for a prior traffic incident over the summer. The sophomore was supposed to appear in court in late August, but he was a no-show, leading to the warrant out for his arrest.

      According to a statement from Tennessee, the incident over the past weekend was handled in a short period of time, and Banks doesn’t appear to be facing any suspension from Pruitt.

      In three games this season, Banks has totaled seven tackles, a tackle for loss, and two interceptions. Both of his interceptions came against UT-Chattanooga this past weekend.

      The Vols will take on the Gators at noon Eastern on Saturday, September 21st. The game will be televised on ESPN.

        Photo by Jake Nichols/RTI

        Tennessee took the practice field again on Wednesday as they prepare for the No. 9 Florida Gators on Saturday. The Vols are looking to win their first SEC game of the season, and Florida is looking to win their second-straight conference match-up.

        Make sure you read all of our notes and observations about Bryce Thompson’s status, the defensive line rotation, the offensive line’s projected starting five, and more.

        Now, make sure to check out all of our video highlights from the Vols’ Wednesday practice session.

          Photo by Jake Nichols/RTI

          Tennessee hit the practice field on Wednesday afternoon final time open portion of practice before Saturday’s game against the No. 9 Florida Gators.

          Sophomore corner Bryce Thompson was once again in attendance as he has been since last Wednesday. Derrick Ansley and Jeremy Pruitt led the defense through seven-on-seven drills against the scout team offense to close out the open portion of practice. With Alontae Taylor and Warren Burrell on one side of the field, Thompson was on the other side with Kenneth George Jr. at the main cornerback spots. The entire secondary went through the drill at the same time from their respective positions.

          At linebacker, Henry To’o To’o and Daniel Bituli continue to work as the first team inside linebackers. Will Ignont and Jeremy Banks come in behind those two in the drills.

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          Up front along the defensive line, Greg Emerson and Aubrey Solomon were two of the first team defensive linemen on Wednesday while Matthew Butler and Greg Emerson worked behind them. Savion Williams and Ja’Quain Blakely were the third duo through drills.

          Offensively, it was the usual. Brian Maurer and JT Shrout worked two at a time behind Jarrett Guarantano at quarterback. Tim Jordan worked as the second team back behind Ty Chandler while Eric Gray worked third. The quarterbacks and running backs worked on quick throws out of the backfield.

          Up front, it was the same combination that it has been since Saturday’s game against Tennessee-Chattanooga. Jim Chaney and Will Friend worked the offensive line through short-yardage situations, stressing the importance of getting a push.

          Wanya Morris worked at left tackle, Trey Smith worked at left guard, Brandon Kennedy worked at center, Darnell Wright worked at right guard, and K’Rojhn Calbert worked at right tackle. That’s the same starting five the Vols trotted out against UTC this past weekend. Jahmir Johnson saw reps at left tackle as well.



            (Photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports)

            Ten years ago, Tennessee was a day away from playing a heavily-favored Florida Gators football team down in Gainesville. The Vols were 30-point underdogs to the reigning national champions, and Heisman-hopeful quarterback Tim Tebow and the rest of the Gators were looking to demolish Tennessee.

            Months earlier, then-Tennessee head coach Lane Kiffin had made a bold prediction about that game during his introductory press conference.

            “We’ll be singing Rocky Top all night long after we beat Florida next year,” Kiffin claimed. “It’s going to be a blast, so get ready.”

            While Kiffin’s prediction didn’t come true, Tennessee played the Gators much tougher than just about anyone expected. The No. 1 Gators never really could pull away from the massive underdogs, and the Vols ended up losing just 23-13 to Florida that day in The Swamp. Tennessee held Tebow without a passing touchdown for the first time in 30 games, and UT gave the Gators one of their toughest contests of the season.

            This year, the Gators might not be the No. 1 team in the country, but they’re a top-10 team and are again hosting Tennessee in Gainesville this upcoming weekend. And, again, Florida is a heavy favorite. Despite losing starting quarterback Feleipe Franks for the season over the weekend, the Gators are still two touchdown favorites over the Vols.

            And just like he did 10 years ago, Kiffin is predicting the Vols to shock the world.

            Kiffin has gotten a lot of attention on social media today thanks to the publication of a compelling story by Chris Low of ESPN. Low interviewed Kiffin, several former Vol players, and others involved with Kiffin’s coaching staff or the administration at the time of Kiffin’s lone season as UT’s head coach, and the story details how Kiffin instilled confidence in his Tennessee team in that 2009 season — as well as Kiffin’s mistakes and ultimate departure from UT later on that year.

            But there were plenty of high points in Kiffin’s one year at the helm of Tennessee’s football program, and it all started with that opening bold prediction.

            Just like he did 10 years ago, Kiffin is again predicting the Vols to pull off the upset against Florida this weekend. Despite Tennessee’s rough 1-2 start to their 2019 season, Kiffin believes UT will overcome the obstacles and come away with their first victory in The Swamp since 2003.

            Kiffin, who is now the head coach at Florida Atlantic University, gave his prediction for the game on Twitter on Wednesday. Shortly after Kiffin posted about Florida being added to FAU’s 2021 football schedule, he was asked by a Florida fan to give his prediction for Saturday’s contest between the Gators and Vols.

            The former UT head coach went the bold route — as he often does — and picked Tennessee to pull off the upset.

            Tennessee’s last victory in Gainesville came all the way back in 2003 — a 24-10 triumph led by quarterback Casey Clausen’s solid play and two rushing touchdowns by running back Jabari Davis. The Vols also won in 2001 in The Swamp, prevailing 34-32 in a game played on December 1st because of the events of 9/11 earlier in the year.

            Since those back-to-back wins in The Swamp, Tennessee hasn’t won in Gainesville. Often, it hasn’t even been close.

            The Vols were blown out 59-20 in Gainesville in 2007, lost by 10 in both 2009 and 2011, and lost by 14 points in 2013. Tennessee’s last two trips to The Swamp have seen more competitive contests, but both games ended in heartbreak for Vol fans.

            In 2015, the Vols were up by two scores in the second half, but a busted fourth down coverage in the fourth quarter led to a 63-yard touchdown by Florida with 1:26 left on the clock. Tennessee would move down the field on their next possession, but a 55-yard field goal attempt went wide right by mere inches as time expired. In 2016, Tennessee again lost on a 63-yard pass play, this time from Feleipe Franks to Tyrie Cleveland as time expired. Franks heaved the pass into the end zone with no time left on the clock, and Cleveland came down with it much to the dismay of UT fans.

            This year, Tennessee is a major underdog as they travel down to Florida for a noon kick-off in The Swamp. The 14-point spread is the largest underdog the Vols have been in the series since they were 16.5-point underdogs in 2013.

            Despite the Gators being the big favorites and Tennessee getting off to a brutal start in 2019, Kiffin is still a believer in his former school. And Vol fans would love nothing more than to see his prediction come true.



              (Photo via Dale Zanine/USA Today Sports)

              Tennessee’s start to their 2019 season hasn’t gone anywhere close to how Vol fans were expecting it to go. At worst, Vol fans thought Tennessee would be 2-1 heading into this weekend’s game against the Florida Gators.

              Instead, the Vols are 1-2 and are on the brink of losing control of their season.

              The Vols opened up the year with a shocking 38-30 loss to Georgia State out of the Sun Belt Conference. They followed that up with a second half collapse against BYU and ended up losing to the Cougars in double overtime by a score of 29-26. Tennessee bounced back with a 45-0 victory over UT-Chattanooga over the weekend, but the Vols are far from where UT fans were hoping three weeks into the season.

              Despite that brutal beginning, Florida head coach Dan Mullen isn’t about to overlook the Vols.

              Mullen spoke during the weekly SEC coaches teleconference on Wednesday, and he was asked about the Gators’ upcoming opponent, the Tennessee Volunteers. While the Vols have lost more than they’ve won to start the season, Mullen still thinks UT is more talented than their record would suggest.

              “I think, one, they’re a talented group. They’re young. They have some new players getting out there, but they have a lot of talent across the board,” Mullen said of Tennessee. “And if you look at how the year has gone, they’re a much better team than they’re getting some credit for.”

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              Part of Tennessee’s issue to start the season, as Mullen sees it, is that one of their opponents — BYU — is better than people expected them to be. The Gators’ second-year head coach also believes the Vols are only going to get better as the season goes along because of all the youth on their roster.

              “You look at it, they’re beating BYU, and a fluke play at the end of the game allows BYU to tie it and go to overtime,” Mullen explained. “Then, all of a sudden a week later, BYU is beating Southern Cal. So that’s like, okay, that team is a little different than maybe we thought. So you look at the talent (the Vols) have, they have some skill players at receiver and running back. They have a quarterback that can make plays. They have a lot of young talented guys on defense that play. They roll guys through, and they play with depth.

              “I think maybe some of the criticism they’ve got early this year might not be as justified as people think with the young players and talent they have. As they continue to grow, they’re going to have a pretty good year.”

              Despite returning a lot of experience from last year’s team, Tennessee has opted to play a lot of younger players more often than some of the more veteran players on the roster. That’s due to the fact that most of UT’s younger players are more athletic and have a higher upside than some of the returning players from last season, and more and more of those youthful Vols have seen more and more playing time as the season has progressed. That’s not likely to change, either.

              Freshmen like Henry To’o To’o, Eric Gray, Warren Burrell, Wanya Morris, Darnell Wright, and Quavaris Crouch have all either started or played a large amount of snaps in Tennessee’s first three games of the season. Other freshmen such as Roman Harrison, Ramel Keyton, and Tyus Fields have all flashed potential when on the field as well.

              That also doesn’t include the second-year players who have seen the field more for Tennessee this season, such as Cedric Tillman, Greg Emerson, Kurott Garland, Jeremy Banks, John Mincey, and others.

              The No. 9 Gators have struggled with their two Power Five opponents they’ve played this season, having to come from behind to beat both Miami and Kentucky to start the year. But Florida is undefeated, and Tennessee has lost two of their first three games. Public perception of the two programs couldn’t be more different.

              But Mullen isn’t letting that perception change how he feels about the Vols, and he’s not going to underestimate them when the two teams play on Saturday.