Florida drew first blood, but the Vols are on the attack down in Gainesville. It has been a while since Tennessee defeated the rival Gators, but they look to be on their way to snapping the losing streak if they can keep it going. Tennessee leads Florida 17-7 at the half after scoring 17 straight points.
Florida opened the scoring with a Kelvin Taylor touchdown run to cap a drive that was highlighted by a 47-yard run by Taylor just two plays earlier. Butch Jones, as he has been known to do from time to time, went into the bag of tricks to help get the Vols on the scoreboard. The call was for a double pass from wide receiver Jauan Jennings to quarterback Josh Dobbs. Once he got his hands back on the football, Dobbs raced up the field for a 58-yard touchdown to even the score at 7-7.
Later in the second quarter Tennessee may have been given a gift by the lack of an instant replay review. Alex Ellis lost control of the football on a short pass down the right sideline. He lost control of the ball before stepping out of bounds, and the ball was spotted at the one-yard line by the officials after rolling out of play. The ball actually hit a Tennessee body before hitting a pyline, so Tennessee would have kept control of the football, but the spot would have been pushed back a few yards. Jalen Hurd picked up the short touchdown run on the next play to give the Vols a 14-7 lead. A 34-yard field goal from Aaron Medley later in the half gave Tennessee the 17-7 lead.
Things are looking up for Tennessee and head coach Butch Jones. The Vols just pulled in a highly-respected recruiting class to follow the “brick-by-brick” mantra in Knoxville, and it may just be a matter of time before Tennessee is back to being a force in the SEC East on a regular basis. That said, there will be a good number of players missing or limited during Tennessee’s spring practice schedule.
Defensive ends Derek Barnett and Kyle Phillips, defensive tackle Danny O’Brien, middle linebacker Darrin Kirkland Jr. and wide receiver Jason Croom are all expected to be out of action this spring, Jones announced on Friday. In addition to that list, Jones suggested tight end Alex Ellis could also be out for the spring.
Croom injured his knee during bowl practices leading up to Tennessee’s match-up with Iowa. Ellis, a senior, was recently awarded a scholarship by Tennessee.
To further deplete the available depth in the spring, Jones also listed a handful of players that could be limited at best this spring. Wide receiver Marquez North, running back Jalen Hurd, offensive lineman Chance Hall, defensive end Corey Vereen, defensive lineman Charles Mosley, linebacker Dillon Bates and cornerback Rashaan Gaulden were those mentioned as limited this spring by the head coach.
North played in 10 games last season and missed playing time due to a shoulder injury. Hurd was Tennessee’s leading rusher in 2014 with 899 yards and five touchdowns.
You can never get enough of this stuff in college football. For all the negative stories that come about, there are plenty of positive stories. This being the holiday season, we can never see enough of the good around the sport.
This takes us all to Tennessee, where Vols head coach Butch Jones gave walk-on tight end Alex Ellis the best present possible, a scholarship. Ellis has played in all 12 games this season and has six catches for 115 yards and a touchdown. The redshirt junior from Delaware may not have a significant impact on the field for the Vols, but his dedication and hard work has not gone unrecognized, nor unrewarded, by the Tennessee coaching staff.
Jones closed a team meeting by handing out presents to the hardest working player in bowl practices when he called Ellis down to receive his present.
Tennessee will face Iowa in the Taxslayer Bowl in Jacksonville, Florida on January 2, 2015.