Scouting report: Tennessee

GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- No. 18 Florida plays its second consecutive road game Saturday in Knoxville against No. 23 Tennessee. Here’s a look at the Volunteers:


Record: 2-0 (0-0 SEC)

Coach: Derek Dooley, third season (13-14); sixth season overall (30-34)

Series record: Florida leads 22-19

Top players: QB Tyler Bray (45-61-0, 643 yards, 6 TDs); WR Justin Hunter (17 catches, 219 yards, 3 TDs); DB Brian Randolph (15 tackles); DB Byron Moore (13 tackles, 1 INT).

Scouting the offense: The passing game hasn’t faltered despite losing All-SEC WR Da’Rick Rodgers. Hunter has recovered from the torn ACL he suffered against Florida last season. The emergence of Cordarrelle Patterson (nine catches, 164 yards) has helped. The running game has been surprisingly good through two games (187.5 yards per game) behind Rajion Neal (118 yards, 3 TDs).

Scouting the defense: New coordinator Sal Sunseri comes from Alabama and is certain to bring a little Nick Saban with him. The linebackers are young but talented -- A.J. Johnson was a freshman All-American last season -- but the secondary is experienced. The Vols are giving up only 17.0 points per game.

Three keys to victory

  1. UF’s cornerbacks struggled to make plays on the ball last season, and this matchup will be a good test to see if they’ve improved. Hunter is 6-foot-4 and Patterson is 6-3, so their size is a concern. Marcus Roberson (6-foot), Loucheiz Purifoy (6-1) and Jaylen Watkins (6-foot) match up physically, so it should be a good battle.

  2. Tennessee has struggled to run the ball the past several seasons, but the Vols seem to have found something with Neal and Marlin Lane (106 yards). Offensive coordinator Jim Chaney has pledged to be more committed to the run game, so Tennessee won’t just be flinging the ball around Neyland Stadium. UF’s strength on defense is its secondary, so the Gators will try to make the Vols one-dimensional by shutting down the run.

  3. The Gators have won seven in a row in the series and three in a row in Knoxville -- it’s the longest winning streak over the Vols in school history -- but this year’s meeting has a little extra juice. "College GameDay" is on site, the Vols are back in the Associated Press Top 25 (at No. 23), and a share of first place in the Eastern Division is on the line. UF has already shown it can handle itself on the road in a hostile environment and play under pressure. It’ll be the Vols’ first chance to prove they can handle it, too.