VOLS GEARING UP FOR GATORS
The last time college football powerhouses UT and Florida met on the gridiron the Volunteers ruined the last home game of former Gator head coach and current NFL Washington Redskins Coach Steve Spurrier by defeating the Gators in Gainesville by a final score of 34 to 32. Wow, it was an exciting game Ð just as all 31 games in the rivalry.
Tennessee leads the series 17 to 14 Ð and is 10-6 in Knoxville, site of the weekends game. Overall, the series is so competitive that national championship implications, SEC titles, and even Heisman Trophy honors are often at stake as a sub-plot. This Saturday when the 2-1 Gators run onto Shield-Watkins Field at Neyland Stadium the 2-0 Vols will be supported by some 104,079 fans forming a sea of orange and white.
As far as UT is concerned this season is going just the way the Big Orange want it to, untarnished. In Week One the Vols smashed Wyoming ( 0 - 3 ) by a final score of 47-7, and in Week Two did in Murfreesboros Middle Tennessee State Racers (now 0 - 2 ), the final score being UT 26 - MTSU 3. During a press conference in Knoxville, UT Head Coach Phillip Fulmer shared his take on the success of this young season.
The first two games showed we are off to a good start with our special teams, said Fulmer. Defensively, we stopped Wyomings passing game and limited Middle Tennessees dangerous running attack. Despite flashes of brilliance on both sides of the football, the Vols are in a situation where the coaching staff feels they (UT) can get better. Offensively, we did okay except for the fact we stopped ourselves to often in the MTSU game. We need to improve on everything, however, to be ready for a really good Florida team, said Fulmer.
Just as with several previous episodes in UT Volunteer history this game has the makings of a great college football shootout due to the fact that two incredibly talented Heisman Caliber quarterbacks in Casey Clausen and Rex Grossman will be throwing the pigskins around on Saturday afternoon. And for all college football fans this game will definitely be a treat, with the makings of one for the ages.
When UT Coach Fulmer was asked about this awesome match up between two marquee quarterbacks the coach focused his observations on both teams instead of both players. Both Grossman and Clausen are truly outstanding players who have performed well for their teams. There is more to the game than that, said Fulmer.
Both quarterbacks realize that their teams need to play well on both sides of the ball. Both teams are trying to find their niches offensively, especially in the passing game.
When you look at the Gators you see a team which has been very successful over the years. Last season all the football Gators did was win 11 games while only losing 2. The Gators are proving to have a solid foundation when you look at what they have done so far in the young 2002 season. If Florida hadnt run into a very explosive defending national Championship University of Miami Hurricanes team (now 3-0 ) team, the Gators would probably be undefeated heading into Knoxville but, as fate would have it, the ÔCanes destroyed UF by a final score of 41 to 16 in the Swamp. Wow.
With that being said, this Florida team has seen a lot, still has a lot of football left , and is well respected despite being thumped at home. Coach Fulmer continues his assessment of UF and their backfield. Florida always has a good running game. Earnest Graham is as good a runner as we will face all season. Florida has a lot of weapons in its running game, including Ran Carthon and Willie Green. The Gators offense is much more than the Rex Grossman Show.
As far as injuries are concerned, the Volunteers are continuing to try to get as healthy as possible. And Coach Fulmer is optimistic wide reliever Kelley Washington (knee injury) should be ready to compete this weekend against the Gators. Im very hopeful Kelley will be 100 percent for the Florida game. My guess is that he would play about 75 percent of the time, said Fulmer.
Many experts favor UT in this contest, which will be carried nationally by CBS television. Kikoff is set for 2:30 p.m. CST. Check local listings for station particulars. Many experts favor UT in this contest