Behind enemy lines: Gators Wire previews Tennessee-Florida game

·4 min read

No. 12 Tennessee (3-0, 0-0 SEC) will host No. 22 Florida (2-1, 0-1 SEC) Saturday at Neyland Stadium in Week 4.

Kickoff is slated for 3:30 p.m. EDT. CBS will televise the Southeastern Conference East matchup.

For the first time since 2016, ESPN “College GameDay” will broadcast from the University of Tennessee’s campus ahead of the Vols and Gators matchup.

The show airs live on ESPN from 9 a.m.-noon EDT Saturday.

Saturday will mark the 10th time Tennessee will host ESPN “College GameDay.” The Tennessee-Florida contest will mark the 22nd game the Vols have appeared on ESPN “College GameDay.”

Ahead of the Week 4 SEC East matchup, Adam Dubbin, managing editor of Gators Wire, previews the game. Dubbin’s preview of the Gators is listed below.

What is the perception of Billy Napier early on at Florida?

Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Overall, Napier represents a fundamental change from how things were ran under Dan Mullen, as well as other previous coaching staffs. The fanbase is enamored with his non-stop approach to recruiting (as opposed to Mullen’s “we’ll do recruiting after the season” approach) and his aw-shucks attitude also endears him to many. The biggest issue is the massive expectations that come with the job and some fans are probably expecting too much out of him in year one.

Do Florida supporters feel Napier can get the Gators back to contending for a national championship like they were under Steve Spurrier and Urban Meyer?

Matthew Stockman/Allsport

Touching back on part of my answer above, the fact Napier has assembled a huge army of supporting staff to aid him in recruiting and the relentless effort he and his team put into the process are extremely encouraging to the Gator nation. The thing about Spurrier and Meyer is that they both benefited from a well-stocked cupboard left behind — both Galen Hall and Ron Zook were very capable at assessing talent. Napier might be starting a bit more shorthanded than those two legends, but the prevailing opinion is that he is the right guy to restore glory in Gainesville.

Georgia has taken over as the top SEC East team recently, what are Florida supporters view on Josh Heupel leading Tennessee in the division?

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

As you might expect from a series in which the Gators have won 16 of the last 17 meetings, the Vols have become more of an afterthought — especially with some of the recent stumbles in Knoxville for Tennessee’s program. That said, a good amount of Florida fans have already seen what he is capable of at UCF, and the general question has been whether or not he can make the jump into the SEC gauntlet. A firm whipping this Saturday will certainly turn some heads and change some attitudes, and I think Heupel needs to snap Florida’s mojo over the Vols before UF fans take Tennessee seriously.

How can Florida win at Tennessee Saturday?

Stephen M. Dowell/Orlando Sentinel via AP

Ball control. While the easy answer would be a standout effort from Anthony Richardson, the true key is to keep the ball out of Tennessee’s high-power offense’s hands. Florida’s punishing ground game is perfectly capable of the task, as long as they avoid turnovers, along with some clutch passing from the quarterback to keep the defense honest, of course. If linebacker Ventrell Miller can find a way to stay healthy enough to make it onto the field, that could also be a game-changer for the Gators on defense.

Score prediction

Saul Young/News Sentinel / USA TODAY NETWORK

Florida did not look like a team that can beat Tennessee last weekend against USF, allowing the Bulls to run over the Gators, while keeping Richardson in check. While UF’s running game gives us a lot of optimism, the inability of the passing side to perform consistently is a major concern. Even if this Gators squad can find a way to hit on all cylinders, it’s hard to see them prevail in a shootout. Rocky Top will be playing loudly throughout the night on Saturday.

Tennessee 42, Florida 24

Story originally appeared on Vols Wire