Here are the top takeaways and highest-graded players from Tennessee’s 38-28 win over Florida.
Quarterback grade: Josh Dobbs 77.7
Dobbs carries the offense with incredible work under pressure
Dobbs did not get much help from his receivers early on – they finished with five drops – but once they started catching the ball, Tennessee took it to the Florida defense. Most impressive about Dobbs was his work under pressure as all four touchdowns came while under heat and his passer rating under pressure was nearly three times higher than his passer rating in a clean pocket (116.5 to 34.4). Dobbs was excellent in the run game as well, picking up 75 yards on 12 designed runs and another 16 yards on three scrambles on his way to an 83.7 run grade. Dobbs and the big-play passing game led Tennessee to victory and finally put an end to their 11-game losing streak to Florida.
Top offensive grades
QB Josh Dobbs 77.7
WR Jauan Jennings 76.8
RB Jalen Hurd 72.6
WR Josh Malone 71.5
RT Chance Hall 70.0
Skill position players step up, lead big-play offense
Jennings and Malone both got in on the deep ball action as Jennings beat CB Jalen Tabor on a double move for a 67-yard touchdown and he did a nice job catching a seam route over LB Alex Anzalone earlier in the game. Malone caught an underthrown deep ball for a 30-yard gain, but it was his 42-yard catch and run on a slant that put the Vols up by 10 and proved to be the game-winner. Despite all of the yardage, the offensive line once again struggled as Hurd picked up 82 of his 87 yards after contact and Dobbs was pressured on 39 percent of his dropbacks, well above the national average. It was a day where the skill position players made up for the line play, but it’s still something that could hurt Tennessee down the line.
Top defensive grades
LB Colton Jumper 86.3
ED Derek Barnett 83.5
CB Emmanuel Moseley 82.8
LB Cortez McDowell 77.6
S Todd Kelly, Jr. 74.4
Vols get contributions at every level of the defense
After a slow start, the defense cracked down starting in the second quarter. Jumper made an impact in the run game, but he was extra impressive in coverage where he allowed three receptions that netted no yards and he deflected a pass on a wheel route. Barnett did his usual fine work, picking up two sacks, one QB hit, one hurry and a batted pass on 31 rushes to go with his quick block-shedding in the run game. Moseley gave up some yards along the way, but he got in on a number of key plays including the clinching pass defensed late in the fourth quarter.
Quarterback grade: Austin Appleby 72.2
Appleby up and down in first Florida start
There was a lot of like about Appleby’s first start for the Gators, including two well-thrown deep balls and a pinpoint touchdown in the fourth quarter during a comeback attempt. Appleby looked comfortable within the offense, and while there were many conservative calls throughout the game, he made his fair share of throws as well. There was some bad in there as well, particularly his third-quarter interception in which he left a clean pocket and threw the ball right to the defense, but overall, Appleby showed he can keep Florida in games as they wait for starting QB Luke Del Rio to get healthy.
Top offensive grades
C Cameron Dillard 81.0
WR Antonio Callaway 81.0
QB Austin Appleby 72.2
RT Jawaan Taylor 72.0
LG Martez Ivey 70.3
Offense becomes stagnant after a hot start
The offense had Tennessee off balance in the early going, hitting big plays on double moves, screens and misdirection but Tennessee adjusted and it was rough going after they built the 21-0 lead. Callaway’s grade doesn’t include his punt return blunders that included a muffed punt and a fair catch at the two-yard line, but he gained 134 yards on his four catches as a receiver. Dillard had a clean day in pass protection while getting downfield in the screen game extremely well.
Top defensive grades
DI Caleb Brantley 86.4
DI Joey Ivie 75.7
CB Quincy Wilson 74.9
ED Jordan Sherit 72.9
DE Bryan Cox 71.7
Defensive line keeps the Gators close, but big plays do the defense in
Florida played a solid game up front, particularly Brantley who was unblockable for much of the game. He used a quick first step to live in the backfield in the run game while adding a QB hit and four pressures on 19 rushes, including hitting QB Josh Dobbs’ arm that led to an interception. Sherit was active in the run game with a team-high six stops. The problems arose in coverage where they allowed seven plays of 20-plus yards, and that proved to be the difference in the game.