Notebook: UF offense in motion
Published: Saturday, September 15, 2012 at 10:06 p.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, September 15, 2012 at 10:06 p.m.
KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The Gators talked throughout the preseason how offensive coordinator Brent Pease's offense was going to put a lot of pressure on opposing defenses with all the shifts and motion. They showed it Saturday night in the 37-20 win over No. 23 Volunteers.
When UF could get the ball away from quarterback Tyler Bray and the Vols' offense, the Gators had success keeping the UT defense off balance with all the movement, especially on the final drive of the first half and the first of the second, with both ending in Caleb Sturgis field goals.
It was a big concern of UT coach Derek Dooley.
“We are getting hurt on all the shifts and motion, so we have to simplify the calls and communicate better on defense,” Dooley said at the half.
UF managed to move the ball up and down the field, but then had trouble executing in the red zone.
Before Saturday night's game, the Tennessee sideline was crowded with dozens of top recruits from around the nation, including at least two prospects who are high on Florida's list — elite cornerback Jalen Ramsey from Brentwood Academy in Nashville and wide receiver Marquez North from Charlotte, N.C.
Ramsey is the high school teammate of UF quarterback commitment Max Staver. Ramsey is a Southern Cal commitment who has reopened the recruiting process and recently received an offer from the Gators. North is the No. 1 prospect in North Carolina and the No. 2 wide receiver in the nation, according to Rivals.com.
One of the top players in the state of Florida — five-star athlete Derrick Henry from Yulee — also attended Saturday night's game. Although he grew up a Gator fan, Henry is not considering UF. His favorites are UT, Alabama and Georgia.
Henry was on an official visit to Tennessee. He has said he will announce his decision on Sept. 27.
Smokey rebounds strong
Smokey, the Vols' bluetick hound mascot, has fully recovered from offseason surgery on his right rear leg.
Smokey started experiencing knee problems early last season and his game-day activities were limited.
“He has looked great the first two games,” Dr. Darryl Mills told the Knoxville News Sentinel. Mills is the orthopedic surgeon and section chief at the UT Veterinary Medical Center.
Smokey has been feeling so frisky that he nipped backup long snapper Matt Giampapa during last Saturday's game against Georgia State.
“Smokey did nip Matt on the hip coming back on the field after halftime,” said Jimmy Stanton, UT's associate athletic director for communications. “I am told that nothing remotely serious resulted from that.”
Injured Gators stay in Gainesville
Florida's injured players — outside linebacker Jelani Jenkins, cornerback Cody Riggs and offensive tackle Matt Patchan — did not make the trip to Knoxville this weekend.
Jenkins and Riggs were injured in last Saturday's victory over Texas A&M. Jenkins had surgery on his broken thumb earlier in the week. Riggs sustained a fracture in his foot that did not require surgery.
Patchan missed his third consecutive game with a strained pectoral muscle. The Gators are hopeful he will return for this week's Kentucky game.
Jenkins and Riggs could be out anywhere from three to five weeks.
Jenkins was replaced in the lineup by true freshman Antonio Morrison, who made his first collegiate start.
In the UF secondary, sophomore safety/cornerback De'Ante “Pop” Saunders started after missing the first two games for unspecified reasons.
Vols honor Majors
In a pregame ceremony, Tennessee retired the jersey (No. 45) of former Vol great and head coach Johnny Majors.
In 1956, Majors ran, passed and kicked the Vols to a perfect 10-0 regular season and finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting to Notre Dame's Paul Hornung.
Majors returned to Tennessee in 1977 after coaching Pittsburgh to the national title in 1976. He coached his alma mater to 116 victories and three SEC championships. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1987.
Not a lot of support for UF
Unlike past UF-UT games in Neyland Stadium, there were only two small pockets of Gator fans in the stands, along with some sprinkled throughout the stadium.
UF sold out its allotment of tickets. But for some reason, the University Athletic Association asked UT for only 4,500 tickets for this year's game. The Gators usually get 8,000-plus tickets for this game.
The Gator fans were outnumbered like never before in Neyland.
This, that and the other
Former Florida signee Omari Phillips is listed on the UT roster, but his name did not appear on the pregame depth chart at defensive tackle. Phillips signed with the Gators this past February, but was denied enrollment by UF Admissions in late July. Phillips is listed as 6-foot-6, 325 pounds and appears headed for a redshirt year, although he did dress for Saturday's game. … UT hosted ESPN's College GameDay for the eighth time overall and the fourth time for the Florida game. The Gators have been part of GameDay more than any other school in the nation with 34 appearances. … Tyler Bray's 2-yard TD pass to Cordarrelle Patterson was the Vols' first first-quarter touchdown against the Gators since 2004. … Bray's punt in the first quarter was the first by a UT quarterback since Heath Shuler in 1992. The Vols ended up using three punters Saturday night — Bray, Matt Darr and Michael Palardy. … UT linebacker A.J. Johnson had the first carry of his career, gaining four yards for a first down in the third quarter lining up as the wildcat quarterback.