Despite Tennessee’s first half woes, the Vols were in position to win the game with 6:09 left in the game.
The Vols had reduced the Florida lead to 14 points until a costly Justin Worley interception ended the game.
Worley was only on the field after an inept performance by Nathan Peterman, who had been selected as the starter before the game. Peterman posted a 4-11 day managing only five yards, two interceptions, and one fumble.
The offensive line, usually a spot of pride for Tennessee, had a rough outing against a dynamic Florida front. James Stone in particular had a tough outing against the pride of the Gator defensive line, Dom Easley. Most say rushing yards is the telling stat for the offensive line, and the Vols only managed 66 yards on 23 attempts.
The defense was really the positive for the Vols this week, despite the score reading 31-17. The Tennessee defense forced two fumbles and a pick-six, and held the Gators in check for much of the day. If the Vols hadn’t turned the ball over so many times on offense then this game could have turned out differently.
Aside from the late game interception, Worley had an admirable performance off the bench. He hit receivers in the hands routinely and showed a “never-give-up” attitude. Worley ended the game with 10-22, for 149 yards, a TD, and 2 INTs. Keep in mind that most of his incompletions came late when he was trying to get chunks of yardage to even up the game.
Another praiseworthy Vol was Alton “Pig” Howard. Howard had four receptions for 75 yards and a touchdown. Howard made big catches in big spots, and he was the rare bright spot on the Tennessee offense.
The Vols will regroup against South Alabama before getting into the “meat” of their schedule, which includes seven SEC teams in a row.