Florida prevailed over Tennessee on Saturday, 31-17, in a game marred by a lot of ugly plays, and a bunch of turnovers. The Gators lost starting quarterback Jeff Driskel early on to an injury that would prove to be season-ending, but they got a nice effort from Tyler Murphy in relief:
Given Murphy's performance, it doesn't look like Driskel's loss will significantly damage the team's season outlook. And as Alligator Army's Andy Hutchins pointed out afterward, the schedule works out relatively well for Murphy's development:
Florida moves to 2-1 overall and 1-0 in the SEC, and has a lighter stretch of its schedule ahead, ideal for Murphy's maturation. Florida travels to lowly Kentucky next weekend, then hosts Arkansas - which lost to Rutgers on Saturday - in two weeks. Murphy's fate still includes a date at LSU in his first month of play, but his is far better than the one faced by Driskel and Jacoby Brissett in 2011: Driskel was forced into action against Alabama by an injury to John Brantley, and Driskel suffered an injury in that game that elevated Brissett to starter just in time to travel to Baton Rouge.
Florida looked close to good on offense Saturday for the first time in a long time. Florida scored all 31 points and gained 344 of its 382 yards in the roughly 55 minutes of playing time after Murphy took over. They're not going to be the Spurrier-era Gators right now, but there are signs of hope for the Florida offense, though potentially at great cost. For all the criticisms Driskel often took from some quarter of the Florida fan base, he led the team to a 11-3 record as a starter and a BCS bowl last season.
Quarterback also was the big story for Tennessee, but for all the wrong reasons. Butch Jones chose to start Nathan Peterman over Justin Worley, which did not work out well for the Volunteers, to say the least. Peterman completed just four of 11 throws for five yards and two interceptions, leading to Worley's eventual return. Peterman didn't always get a lot of help:
Rocky Top Talk's Will Shelton lamented Peterman's effort, pointing out that in hindsight, it was Worley who gave the team its best chance at an upset in Gainesville:
It's so frustrating because we all want to win one of these big games so badly. And when you're dealing with as much of a talent gap as the entire Tennessee team currently faces, you need the opposition to be good to you, and in big games that doesn't happen often. But it did today, and the Vols still failed to take advantage of it, in large part due to Peterman's repeated mistakes.
Justin Worley gave Tennessee its best chance to win today. But the second question - "Who gives Tennessee its best chance to win going forward?" - is still a mystery.
Here are the highlights from the game: