Nine straight? UF vs UT Headquarters

Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel

The Florida Gators will be going for their ninth straight win in the series with Tennessee Saturday in The Swamp. It is highly unusual for any two programs of Florida and Tennessee's ilk to have such a long streak and we all know these things must someday come to an end. Will it be this year? The odds say not, but we will take a closer look inside to see where the two teams stack up.

Who: #19 Florida Gators vs. Tennessee Volunteers
When: 3:30 Saturday Sept. 21, 2013; CBS Television
Where: Ben Hill Griffin Stadium; Gainesville, Florida

Florida Gators Depth Chart - 2013
Regular Offense
STARTER2ND3RD4TH
WR#1 Quinton Dunbar (JR, 6-2, 194)#11 Demarcus Robinson (FR, 6-2, 201)
TE#88 Clay Burton (JR, 6-4, 257)#87 Tevin Westbrook (JR, 6-4, 257_#84 (JR, 6-4, 257_ Colin Thompson (R-FR, 6-5, 255)
LT#70 D.J. Humphries (SO, 6-5, 285)#76 Max Garcia (JR, 6-4, 311)
LGMax Garcia (JR, 6-4, 311)#63 Trip Thurman (SO, 6-5, 315)
C Jonotthan Harrison (SR, 6-3, 310)#64 Kyle Koehne (SR, 6-5, 315)
RG#67 Jon Halapio (SR, 6-3, 320)#64 Kyle Koehne (SR, 6-5, 315)
RT#73 Tyler Moore (SO, 6-5, 320)#74 Trenton Brown (JR, 6-8, 361)
WR#83 Solomon Patton (SR, 5-9, 177)#5 Ahmad Fulwood (FR, 6-5, 196)#86 Chris Thompson (FR, 6-0, 167)
QB#6 Jeff Driskel (JR, 6-4, #10 Tyler Murphy (JR, 6-2, 210)
FB#41 Hunter Joyer (JR, 5-11, 240)#25 Gideon Ajagbe (JR, 6-2, 244)
HB#24 Matt Jones (SO, 6-2, 226)#33 Mack Brown (JR, 5-11, 215)
Base 4-3 Defense
STARTER2ND3RD4TH
LDE#90 Jonathan Bullard (SO, 6-3, 270)#94 Bryan Cox (R-FR, 6-3, 260)
LDT#44 Leon Orr (JR, 6-5, 302)#4 Damien Jacobs (SR, 6-3, 300)
RDT#2 Dominique Easley (SR, 6-2, 285)#55 Darious Cummings (JR, 6-1, 305)
RDE#6 Dante Fowler (SO, 6-3, 266)#95 Alex McCalister (R-FR, 6-6, 238)
WLB#11 Neiron Ball (JR, 6-3, 235)#49 Darrin Kitchens (SR, 6-2, 237)
MLB#3 Antonio Morrison (SO, 6-1, 230)#51 Michael Taylor (JR, 6-0, 233)
SLB#7 Ronald Powell (JR, 6-4, 240)#49 Darrin Kitchens (SR, 6-2, 237)
CB#15 Loucheiz Purifoy (JR, 6-0, 190)#1 Vernon Hargreaves (FR, 5-11, 192)
SS#31 Cody Riggs (JR, 5-9, 190)#21 Jabari Gorman (JR, 5-10, 184)
FS#14 Jaylen Watkins (SR, 6-0, 183)#20 Marcus Maye (R-FR, 6-0, 206)
CB#5 Marcus Roberson (JR, 6-0, 195)#24 Brian Poole (SO, 5-10, 205)STARTING NICKEL #24 Brian Poole (SO, 5-10, 205)SECOND NICKEL........ #1 Vernon Hargreaves (FR, 5-11, 192)
Special Teams
STARTER2ND3RD4TH
K#16 Austin Hardin (R-FR, 5-10, 208)# 97 Brad Phillips (SR, 5-10, 195)
P#4 Kyle Christy (JR, 6-3, 198)#40 Justin Vogel (R-FR, 6-4, 211)
H#10 Tyler Murphy (JR, 6-2, 210)#43 Kyle Crofoot (SO, 6-4, 220)
PR#5 Marcus Roberson (JR, 6-0, 195)#8 Trey Burton (SR, 6-2, 225)
KR#83 Solomon Patton (SR, 5-9, 177)#15 Loucheiz Purifoy (JR, 6-0, 190)
LS#46 Drew Ferris (JR, 6-0, 205)#43 Kyle Crofoot (SO, 6-4, 220)

THE MATCHUPS

The Gators and Vols are both coming off of games they would like to forget. Florida's offense gave a game away two weeks ago against Miami turning the ball over five times and looking miserable as usual in the red zone.

Tennessee's offense was okay against top five Oregon, but the defense was blitzed for 450+ passing yards and 59 points against an offensive juggernaut.

Can Florida hold on to the ball and punch it in the end zone? Can Tennessee keep Florida from doing that and muster enough offense with a new quarterback and receivers to upset the Gators? We'll break down what we think.

FLORIDA DEFENSE vs TENNESSEE OFFENSE

The Volunteers need to be able to run the ball to help whichever first year quarterback they throw at the Gators. The Vols chalked up 178 rushing yards on Oregon in the loss, but will face a bit of a stiffer Saturday. They seemingly will also not be trying to run clock as they most likely were trying to just survive against the Ducks.

Florida DBs vs Tennessee QBs, WRs, and TEs: This is likely the biggest mismatch in the game. Tennessee isn't saying who will actually start the game at quarterback and so they have a little mystery there, that isn't a good thing heading into your fourth game of the season. The Vols start some youth and height at receiver with super frosh Marquez North (6-4, 215) whom the Gators wanted and likely redshirt frosh Jason Croom (6-5, 225). They also run a three wide set with a tight end and the third receiver is a sophomore in Pig Howard (5-8, 185) with tight end Brendan Downs (6-5, 248). The group has 17 catches for 132 yards in three games.

Junior Justin Worley (6-4, 222) has been the main guy at quarterback. He has thrown for 372 yards, five touchdowns and one interception in three contests. The word on the street is that freshman Nathan Peterman (6-2, 221) who has completed six passes for 12 yards and no interceptions or touchdowns will be the starter in the game. They are a very safe throwing team.

The Gators counter with probably the best secondary in the country and two starting juniors at corner in Loucheiz Purifoy and Marcus Roberson that are all-star candidates.

Senior Jaylen Watkins was moved in the bye week to safety from corner and is another all-star candidate in the secondary. He will be teamed with junior Cody Riggs who has played very well this fall at the position after being moved over from corner. Depth is provided by redshirt freshman Marcus Maye who started the first two games and junior Jabari Gorman.

If Howard is starting in the slot for the Vols, look for true freshman Vernon Hargreaves to get the start at nickel. Hargreaves has lived up to his billing as the nation's top prospect at corner last recruiting cycle and has the only two turnovers garnered by the defense with his two interceptions. Sophomore Brian Poole could see the start at nickel and both of these guys will back up at cornerback.

Edge: A very deep position for this season for the Gators and with a lot of big game experience and against a non-prolific passing game in Tennessee. Gators need to keep everything underneath and they should dominate this aspect of the game. Big edge to Florida.

Florida LBs vs Tennessee RBs: The Florida linebackers have played very well so far this year. But, junior Vol running backs Rajion Neal (5-11, 212) and Marlin Lane 5-11, 205) have amassed 457 rushing yards combined in the first three games. Neal averages 6.0 yards per carry and has scored four times on the ground while Lane averaged 5.7 yards per carry and averages 5.7 yards per carry.

Florida comes in ranked third in the country in rushing defense giving up exactly 50.0 yards per game in the first two games. The linebackers are a little bigger than they have been at Florida and just as fast or faster. They feel like there are two all-star candidates in Antonio Morrison and Ronald Powell and Neiron Ball may be playing better than any of them.

Edge: The Vols are averaging a hefty 244.8 yards per game on the ground. The Gators have been awesome against te run since Will Muschamp showed up in Gainesville. Something has to give. Slight edge to Florida.

Florida Defensive Line vs Tennessee Offensive Line: If Tennessee has a dominant unit it is along the offensive line, starting four seniors and a junior. Outside of center James Stone (6-3, 291) the next smallest starter on the offensive line weight in at 318 pounds. They are some big boys up front.

They have allowed only two sacks in three games but have only passed the ball 69 times in three games.

Florida counters with defensive tackle Dominique Easley who has had a tremendous start to the news season and two sophomores in Jonathan Bullard and Dante Fowler are supplying heat off the edge. Easley, Bullard, Fowler and Ronald Powell have logged 11 quarterback hurries in two games, a really big number for four guys.

Edge: This one is really close. Bullard said earlier this week that Tennessee was the toughest line they faced all last year and they have everybody back. I am reluctant to do so, but… slight edge to Tennessee.

FLORIDA OFFENSE vs TENNESSEE DEFENSE

We come to the enigma matchup on the day. Florida has still to find an identity on offense,. They want to be a power running team but found themselves throwing the ball around in the last game, but coughing it up in defeat. Tennessee starts 7 seniors and two juniors on defense , but are ranked 90th in the country in total defense after three games despite two teams on the schedule that were dreadfully overmatched.

Florida QBs, WRs, TEs vs Tennessee DBs: The Volunteers are ranked 102nd in the country giving up 275 yards per game through the air. But, with all of those yards they have only given up five touchdowns and four of those were against Oregon. The Vol secondary was riddled a year ago and don't seem to have answers this year either. The one thing they do is bend but don't break and the secondary does have four interceptions among them in three games.

The Gators have three receivers averaging 60 yards or more in the first two games. Trey Burton, Solomon Patton, and Quinton Dunbar have been solid but not spectacular so far this year. They are still looking for a game breaking receiver at Florida.

Quarterback Jeff Driskel is the only one that Florida trusts at the position and he just hasn't broken into his stride yet. Driskel had a personal best 291 yards passing against Miami but fumbled the ball away once and threw two interceptions against the Hurricanes. He has thrown only two touchdown passes in the first two games.

Edge: In the battle of somewhat ineptness, Florida gets the edge if they don't fumble the ball away, a trait that was non-existent a year ago. Slight edge to Florida.

Florida RBs vs Tennessee LBs: The Vols are 64th in the country in rush defense, giving up 155.3 yards per game. Junior linebacker A.J. Johnson (6-2, 243) is a star at the position and has 17 tackles on the season. Curt Maggitt is out with injury and is their second best player at the position. Johnson is the biggest, but does lack superior speed, the others are speedy types.

Florida's starting running back Matt Jones, and starting fullback Hunter Joyer, are expected to be big time this year but both have struggled early this season. Both are back from injury or illness and have yet to live up to it. Backups at both positions in Mack brown at running back and Gideon Ajagbe have probably played better than expected, but it isn't enough to counteract the starters' play.

Edge: Johnson is an all-SEC play maker and although the Vols haven't been good in the running game… edge to Tennessee.

Florida Offensive Line vs Tennessee Defensive Line: defensive ends Corey Miller (6-3, 265) and Jacques Smith lead all linemen for the Vols in tackles with just three each. This isn't a very active bunch. Senior massive nose tackle Daniel McCullers (6-8, 351) is a monster but is not fleet of foot by any means. Senior Daniel Hood (6-4, 277) mans the other tackle spot and is the smallest at the position on either team.

Florida's offensive line has been fair so far this season but not played up to expectations either. Key to the line have been injuries. At one point in the Miami game not one player on the line was someone listed as a starter at the position in the middle of fall camp. Suddenly, a bye week comes and some parts begin to come together. Senior right guard Jon Halapio is back for his first game, he is a four year starter. Left tackle D.J. Humphries missed the second half of both of the first two games with an MCL injury but is expected to be close to 100%. Tyler Moore missed the end of the game at right tackle, but he is expected back.

Continuity has been a real issue and we can't expect that continuity to be fixed so quickly. They will still run into some issue, but the thought is this is as close as they should get so far this season to be ready as a group. They have solid depth behind them as well.

Edge: The Gator offensve line hasn't been spectacular, but close to solid would say. With guys coming back, they look to improve, so… slight edge to Florida.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Florida STs vs Tennessee STs Both squads have excellent punters. Florida's Kyle Christy is a preseason all-conference pick. Tennessee's Michael Palardy is hitting at a 44 yard clip, which is pretty good.

Palardy also kicks field goals and kickoffs for the Volunteers. Austin Hardin handles both for Florida. Palardy is 2 of 2 on the year and was 9 of 12 a year ago. Hardin is 2 of 3 on the year.

Jacob Carter hasn't done much as a punt returner for Tennessee just yet while Florida counters with Marcus Roberson who has been great, and is 17th in the country at 14.4 yards per return so far this season.

Kick returner Vincent Dallas averages a solid 25 yards per return for Tennessee while Solomon Patton isn't far behind at 22 yards for the Gators.

Edge: Overall the special teams are pretty close. The largest advantage seems to be at punt returner with Marcus Roberson. If the Florida defense lives up to snuff, the Vols will be punting a lot and putting it in Roberson's hands. So… a slight edge to Florida.

THE BOTTOM LINE: It bit me against Miami, but Florida clearly won in every statistical category against the hurricanes except for turnovers, penalties, and eventually the scoreboard.

Giving the edge to Tennessee's offensive line over the Florida defensive line is so close, it was a hard call. Likewise the Vols get the nod at linebacker, but we expect the Florida running backs to improve a great deal and starting now. I have Florida favored everywhere else in the matchups. This leads me to say something along the lines of 31-10 Gators as the final score.

Below are the links to the other content from Fightingators.com covering the Florida-Tennessee matchup.

Gators dominate rivalry on the ground
Muschamp confident about injuries
Driskel: Handle us and we'll be fine
Jones ready for feature role
Easley has unique approach to Rocky Top
Gators prepare for rival Tennessee
Pease plans on simplifying red zone for Driskel
Harrison happy for Halapio's return
Rivalry big for Watkins
Audio: gators and more with Hollywood Bob
Muschamp SEC Teleconference
Defense working on starting fast
Halapio ready to return
Notebook: receivers showing improvement
Video: Taylor doesn't like ‘Rocky Top'
Video: Brown knows improvement necessary
Danielson: UF most underrated team in the country
D-Line to show pass rush

RECRUITING

Five star players ready for The Swamp

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