During media interviews before the trip to Florida, Quinten Dormady described the Swamp as a “hostile environment.” The past decade proves just how hostile.
Tennessee’s quarterback – and hundreds of thousands of Vols fans – know the kind of unforgiving atmosphere their team can expect Saturday, when they face the Gators in Gainesville.
They haven’t won on the road against their SEC East rivals in 14 years, when a Vols squad coached by Phillip Fulmer and quarterbacked by Casey Clausen won 24-10 in the Swamp in 2003.
For Dormady to change that, he’ll have to perform better than most of his predecessors in the intervening years.
Here’s a breakdown of Tennessee’s recent trips to Gainesville, and how the Vols quarterbacks fared in the action.
2005: Florida 16, Tennessee 7
QB stats: Erik Ainge, 14 of 29 for 147 yards, one touchdown; Rick Clausen, 2 of 5 for 0 yards.
What went wrong: Tennessee was in this one (Urban Meyer’s SEC debut as Florida coach) until the end, but it wasn’t because of the quarterback play. The Vols completed only 16 of 35 passes (including a misfire on a fake punt by Britton Colquitt) and never gained more than 20 yards on any pass. But special teams were the bigger concern. On top of that bad fake punt, the Vols also fumbled a punt return and had a field goal blocked. Once the Gators pulled ahead in the third quarter, Tennessee just didn’t have the offensive ammunition to come back.
2007: Florida 59, Tennessee 20
QB stats: Erik Ainge, 26 of 41 for 249 yards, one touchdown, one interception; Jonathan Crompton, 2 of 5 for 12 yards, one interception.
What went wrong: When a team gives up 59 points, the problems extend a lot further than quarterback play. While the Vols weren’t the first team shredded by the Urban Meyer/Tim Tebow/Percy Harvin offensive machine, and they wouldn’t be the last, the margin of defeat was embarrassing. Ainge moved the ball well enough, but a pair of turnovers helped turn an already bad day into a real nightmare.
2009: Florida 23, Tennessee 13
QB stats: Jonathan Crompton, 11 of 19 for 93 yards, two interceptions.
What went wrong: In Lane Kiffin’s only game in the series, the unpredictable coach got next to no production from his quarterback. Those numbers for Crompton aren’t a mistake – just 93 passing yards. And though the Gators’ Tebow didn’t light up the scoreboard himself, the 2007 Heisman Trophy winner kept Florida’s offense moving. That’s more than Vols fans can say, as they never found the end zone until a Montario Hardesty rush with eight minutes left.
2011: Florida 33, Tennessee 23
QB stats: Tyler Bray, 26 of 48 for 288 yards, three touchdowns, two interceptions.
What went wrong: The numbers are a bit misleading: Tennessee trailed 30-7 in the third quarter before making the score look more respectable with late touchdowns. Bray wasn’t the problem, although the two interceptions did little to make head coach Derek Dooley’s life easier. Instead, the Vols can blame a defense that allowed 212 yards of total offense to Florida’s Chris Rainey, a special teams corps that allowed a disastrous blocked punt and a running game that finished with a miserable total of minus-9 yards.
2013: Florida 31, Tennessee 17
QB stats: Nathan Peterman, 4 of 11 for 5 yards, two interceptions; Justin Worley, 10 of 23 for 149 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions.
What went wrong: Ouch. Peterman is now an NFL quarterback with the Buffalo Bills, but the numbers don’t look like it from this game. Butch Jones made the unexpected call to bench incumbent starter Worley in favor of redshirt freshman Peterman, and the results were three turnovers (including a fumble) in barely a quarter of action. Worley wasn’t a major improvement after entering in relief. The Vols finished the day with six turnovers in an ugly defeat.
2015: Florida 28, Tennessee 27
QB stats: Josh Dobbs, 10 of 17 for 83 yards.
What went wrong: For the first time in more than a decade, the Vols held the margin down to one score. But it wasn’t enough. The Vols blew a 27-14 lead with five minutes to go, finally going down on Will Grier’s 63-yard touchdown strike to Antonio Callaway with 1:26 left. The day was weird, to put it mildly, in the Tennessee passing game. Dobbs’ 83 passing yards were barely more than the 82 yards Tennessee gained on trick passes (a 58-yard pass from receiver Jauan Jennings and a 24-yard pass from running back Alvin Kamara). That 58-yard Jennings pass was a touchdown to Dobbs, which made the quarterback, bizarrely, the Vols’ top passer, receiver and rusher (136 yards) on the day.
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