Tom Petty won’t back down. Tennessee won’t win in the swamp.
Gainesville, Florida — The complete list of things Josh Heupel What he can and cannot do will be revealed later in his still reasonably young coaching career.
But one thing Heupel cannot do is change the space-time continuum. The mighty Midwestern left hand was strong and stable enough to win a national championship and nearly a Heisman Trophy as a player, and it helped him craft one of the most exciting offenses in the sport as a coach. But she can’t go among the stars. He cannot manipulate the universe.
It appears that this is the kind of galactic sea change that will be needed for Tennessee to come to Ben Hill Griffin Stadium and leave with anything other than a loss.
The heavily favored Vols strolled confidently into The Swamp on Saturday night, leaving once again with sorting kits covering areas where skin, blood, and sinew had once been. This precious organic matter is once again deposited in the belly of the crawling monsters that have roamed these parts for millions of years.
Florida 29, Tennessee 16.
Tom Petty won’t back down, and Tennessee won’t win here.
A complete collapse in the second quarter put the Vols in a deep hole, and they wasted opportunity after opportunity to seriously pressure the Gators in the second half.
Even if Florida wasn’t as bad as it looked in its season-opening loss to Utah just two weeks ago, this looked about as beatable as one could expect a Gators team to be, given the way things have generally gone — not consistently, but generally — gone This program over the past four decades. Second year coach Billy Napier I’ve struggled to keep Florida off the ground to this point. Some in this proud but losing fanbase have already begun discussing who will replace Napier in the near future. Maybe they’ll be back to doing this in a few weeks.
If Napier is going to pull off a big upset win over a top 10 opponent to completely change the scenario, it will always be Tennessee. Of course it would be folders. Who else could it be? This almost happened last season. For all the fond memories fans have of that incredible win over Florida, let’s not forget that the Gators made that game very uncomfortable in the final stages.
Few programs anywhere in college football have a greater mental advantage over others than Florida has over Tennessee. You may not like being reminded of it, but your wife probably doesn’t enjoy being reminded of her marriage nightmare either. Both remain real things. We live in a world where truth has become largely irrelevant, but difficult truths must be faced in order to get it right. Florida heads into every football game against Tennessee with a comfortable cushion. If it is a game of golf between friends, the handicap will adjust the final score in favor of fairness. It’s the same thing when Kentucky plays Tennessee in football. We all know that. Some don’t admit it. But we all know that. The Gators should certainly take the all-time lead in this series, but they can’t possibly be as lopsided as they have been the past few decades.
If you’re looking for solace, know that Tennessee football seasons aren’t judged solely by results against Florida. If so, the upper deck at Neyland Stadium will be retired. This season is not over yet. far from it. The lackluster start for most of the SEC makes this loss seem like a missed opportunity, but it also means a lot of things could happen between now and December. Every goal the Vols scored on the season sticks around. The margin of error is much smaller now. Florida doesn’t run the tables. Let’s be adults here. Let’s be honest about it.
Of course, Tennessee doesn’t seem likely to top the rankings either. This is what matters now.
The Vols would almost certainly beat Florida in Knoxville this season, but that’s not the point. The point is that Tennessee’s last three road games — at Georgia and South Carolina last season, and the crap we just witnessed — have all been losses, and at least two of them should have been wins. Until that changes, there is a hard cap on this program.
It is not possible to make a fair judgment on Saturday’s match without discussing a series of refereeing decisions that exceeded the limits of reason and lack of faith. It wasn’t the only cow patty in the bread bowl, but it was there, so let’s not pretend we didn’t see or smell it.
Florida got away with an uncomfortable number of phone calls on important plays, but let’s not go there. It can be called keeping the game on every play, and complaining about anything but the worst calls (or non-calls) is something only losers do. However, there were areas of legitimate grievances. Florida’s right guard jumped well before the snap and got away with a one-yard run on a third-and-goal play late in the first half. The Gators had to put a new defensive line on the field for a fourth-and-1 play only because officials stopped the game to adjust the ball’s location. Blind side blocking call on Tennessee’s senior tight end Macallan Castles And a harsh call to the passer on the second-year linebacker Elijah Herring He threw bigger boulders in Tennessee’s path to redemption late in the game, and the charitable view of both calls was questionable. A herring strike hardly sounds terrible, but we’ve all seen it before. Playing for the Castles was, at best, an aggressive interpretation of a big point of emphasis for officials heading into this season. Senior reception Ramil Keaton He was also tackled by a defensive back and then hit by another defensive back while defenseless on the same play — a crucial third-and-10 in the end zone late in the game — and neither penalty was called.
So, yeah, those things happened. They needed to discuss it. And now it has been discussed.
But Tennessee could still win that game, and the belief here is that Tennessee should still have won that game. But she didn’t do that. As far as any team getting that win, Florida was that team. Tennessee was not.
We all know where most of the blame will go. It will almost always go where it goes. He’s going to go to a great quarterback Joe Milton III. Many have wanted him nowhere near the starting job since he cruised in on some passes early in the 2021 season, and many of them will never have their minds changed.
Changing Milton is not the right move. That move could come at some point this season. Not that time. Tennessee lost this game for many reasons, and Milton is nowhere near the top of that list. It wasn’t perfect. He even threw the first interception of his career at Tennessee when he was hit by a 435-pound Florida defensive lineman Desmond Watson And the duck fart opened it Devin Moore It was intercepted and returned to the red zone. Maybe Milton should have stuck with the ball, but that’s easy to suggest when you’re not the one about to be shoved to the ground by a Toyota Prius in the shoulder pads. I have committed greater sins. Many of Milton’s teammates committed greater sins in other moments of the same game, and a few were ushered to the bench by a large portion of the fanbase. That’s life for midfielders.
Tennessee has bigger problems than Milton right now. Milton did not allow Florida to go 7 for 8 on third down in the first half. Milton didn’t make the pathetic attempted tackle that led to Florida’s longest play of the night — a touchdown that put the Gators on the board in the first quarter. Milton did not miss any more tackles. Milton didn’t move before the snap on an alarming number of plays.
Milton wasn’t perfect in Gainesville and he hasn’t been perfect this season, and anyone would expect him to be Hendon Hooker You will be very disappointed. But it wouldn’t be anywhere near the list of biggest reasons Tennessee lost that game. And some of the throws he made gave the Vols a chance to get back into that game.
There may be time for a change at quarterback this season. This is not that time. Remember, you have one chance – exactly one chance – to change your quarterback and reignite your fan base and possibly your team in a given season. Making the move at this point would seem desperate because it would be desperate. And if you make this move now, you better make at least a few more moves, because some of the other key players on this team deserve to be demoted even more.
Saturday’s failure revealed many things, but none more important than this: Tennessee is not a championship-caliber team right now. Championship-caliber teams have a tougher jaw. They don’t allow things like this game to happen.
Now we wait and see how these folders respond. Many things are still possible. Great things remain possible. Good things are still possible. Bad things are still possible. Mediocrity is still possible. It seems like anything is possible in the SEC this season.
This shouldn’t happen. But it happened. If a few things don’t change soon, it will happen again. The ineptitude of this historically formidable program against Florida will not be a convincing excuse for that.