Gator defense ready for the challenge of facing the Vols

UF an underdog for SEC road battle
UT is averaging 52 points in 3-0 start
Published: Sep. 21, 2022 at 11:52 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -When the No. 20 Florida Gators visit the No. 11 Tennessee Volunteers on Saturday in Knoxville, the chief concern for the Gators will be defending an up-tempo UT offense that likes to run a play every 20 seconds.

Tennessee is averaging 52 points per game during a 3-0 start. Goal number one for the Gator defense is disrupting that rhythm and preventing Tennessee from sustaining drives that can wear out the defense. To head coach Billy Napier, it starts with performing well on first down.

“We work on tempo throughout the year,” said Napier. “It’s part of our practice plan in spring practice and training camp but to do it each and every play. I think we’ve built some time in our year-round plan to prepare for it, so we look forward to the challenge.”

Starting linebacker Ventrell Miller is questionable for Saturday’s clash after missing the game against USF. However, cornerback Jaydon Hill has been upgraded to probable. Hill is coming off an ACL injury and hasn’t played since the 2020 season. Gator defenders agree they must play as one, no matter who takes the field.

“Tennessee runs plays before the chain crew can get lined up, so that’s something we’ve been working on in practice, but their tempo is one of their biggest strengths, just how fast they run the plays,” said linebacker Amari Burney.

“It’s like five-on-five basketball,” said defensive end Brenton Cox. “You’re playing against their eleven versus our eleven. It’s kind of going to be a dead ball situation where you can sub, but everybody on the team is well conditioned so we should be good.”

Kickoff is set for 3:30 Saturday on CBS.

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