Tennessee coach Derek Dooley doesn’t mince words when he surveys his offense two games into the season.
“Until we get our passing game going, we’re going to struggle,” he said.
He also knows the game this Saturday probably isn’t the best time to be getting that passing game going.
Not against Florida.
The Gators lead the country with eight interceptions and have taken two of those back for touchdowns. It was an interception return for a touchdown last week in the Oregon game that precipitated the Ducks’ 48-13 rout of the Vols.
To put Florida’s eight interceptions in perspective through two games, seven of the SEC teams were at 13 interceptions or fewer for the entire season a year ago.
Simply, it’s one of the best defensive backfields Tennessee will face all season, and junior safety Will Hill has yet to even play. He was suspended for the first two games, but is scheduled to make the trip this weekend.
“What you see is a real confident group, a tremendously athletic and fast group, and you see a group in the secondary that when the ball goes up in the air, they act like it’s their ball, and that’s what you want every defender to think,” Dooley said.
The Gators will almost certainly load the line of scrimmage and dare the Vols to beat them with the pass. As effective as Tauren Poole has been at running the ball for Tennessee in the first two games (an SEC-leading 272 yards), the Vols have struggled to make a lot happen in their passing game.
Tennessee is last in the SEC in pass efficiency with only one touchdown pass and two interceptions. The Vols are also completing an SEC-low 54.2 percent of their passes.