Both teams are heading into week three with problems of their own. Tennessee is bogged down by injuries, while Florida will be missing players due to suspensions. Although both teams have struggled so far this season, it is still a crucial matchup considering the SEC East is a toss-up. These are the five matchups to watch for as the Vols and Gators rivalry is continued in Gainesville on Saturday.
Quentin Dormady vs. the Florida secondary
As the new quarterback at Tennessee, Dormady has visibly struggled in his first couple of starts this season. In week one, Dormady threw for 221 yards and two touchdowns, but had obvious problems with accuracy (52-percent completion percentage) and footwork. He made solid strides in week two with his accuracy, as he completed over 70-percent of his passes for nearly 200 yards and two touchdowns. However, Dormady will be facing a talented Gators secondary that allowed just 11 passes for 181 yards and forced two turnovers against Michigan in week one.
John Kelly vs. the Florida front seven
Although Florida got gashed for 215 yards on the ground against Michigan, its depth and talent on the front seven will be an intriguing matchup against Vols running back John Kelly. Kelly has been the star and leader of the Tennessee offense after tallying over 200 yards and four touchdowns in the past two games. With a Gators front seven that includes CeCe Jefferson, David Reese and Jordan Sherit, Kelly will certainly have his hands full Saturday. A ton of Kelly’s success hinges on the Volunteers’ offensive line, but expect him to have a solid impact either way.
Florida rush attack vs. Tennessee front seven
The Gators rushing attack against Michigan was non-existent, especially with the absence of starting running back Jordan Scarlett. In week one, the Florida backfield combined for just 11 total yards on the ground. Given, they were facing a dominant Wolverines run defense. Luckily for the Gators, the Vols have had a fair share of struggles stopping the run. After getting gouged for over 500 rushing yards against Georgia Tech, Tennessee gave up 122 yards on the ground to Indiana State. Both of the groups are struggling, but one has to make a breakthrough on Saturday.
Feleipe Franks vs. Tennessee secondary
Franks’ first career start could not have been more disastrous. He was pulled in the third quarter against Michigan after Florida head coach Jim McElwain was attempting to find some flow on offense. Franks went just 5-of-9 for 79 yards passing before he was taken out. However, in week three he will face a Tennessee secondary that has yet to be tested this season. The Vols have faced a combined 29 pass attempts in the first two games of the season, and those came against Georgia Tech and Indiana State. Both Franks and the Tennessee secondary will be facing their first real tests of the season.
Tennessee offensive line vs. Florida defensive line
This is the most crucial matchup of the entire game for both teams. True freshman Trey Smith and Jashon Robertson have been the keys to the Tennessee offensive line this season. However, they have struggled at times to keep pressure off Dormady and create lanes for Kelly and the running back group. While they have been solid, the Florida defensive line brings speed, talent and depth that the Vols have yet to see this season. The Gators tallied 11 tackles-for-loss, five sacks and four quarterback hurries in week one. Tennessee has only allowed one sack and a quarterback hurry in two games. The game will be won in the trenches this weekend.