Brandon Powell

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No. 14 Tennessee scores 38 straight to snap losing streak to No. 19 Florida

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No. 14 Tennessee (4-0, 1-0 SEC) brought an end to an 11-game losing streak to No. 19 Florida (3-1, 1-1 SEC) in resounding fashion Saturday afternoon in Neyland Stadium. Down 21-0 in the first half, Tennessee roared back with 38 straight points en route to a wild 38-28 victory in a key SEC East battle.

The phrase “tale of two halves” gets thrown around a lot, sometimes more than necessary, but there was simply no way to describe what just happened in a checkered-out Neyland Stadium. The Vols looked lost and sloppy in the first half of the game, shooting themselves in the feet twice inside the Florida 10-yard line with nothing to show for it. But the second half was a reversal of fortune, as the Vols defense started getting off the field quickly and the offense started clicking. Joshua Dobbs shrugged off an awful first half and came back to lead the charge with four touchdown passes in the second half, and one more on the ground just for good measure. Dobbs was Tennessee’s second-leading rusher (behind Jalen Hurd) on top of passing for over 300 yards against the Gators.

Tennessee took the lead on a play that appeared to be eerily similar to a key play from a year ago. Dobbs found a wide-open Jauan Jennings down the right side of the field for an easy touchdown. The score gave the Vols the lead. It was a long passing play last season that saw Florida take the lead on the Vols when it appeared a victory was in hand for Tennessee.

The Vols tacked on more to put the game in he win column, of course. The defense picked off a pass from Austin Appleby on Florida’s first play of the ensuing drive and that was quickly turned into a touchdown. Florida then had to punt after three plays on the next drive, and the Vols scored four plays later. The momentum had swung back to Tennessee and never returned to the Gators’ sideline, even after a 16-play touchdown drive. Nothing was stopping Tennessee at this point, as Florida’s frustration boiled over so much, Brandon Powell was ejected from the game in the fourth quarter for throwing a punch.

Trying to figure out what this means for Tennessee going forward is a bit of a tricky proposition. That is because you just don’t really know which Tennessee was closer to the real Tennessee. The SEC East is most definitely their’s to take this year, with a head-to-head tiebreaker with Florida in the fold and Georgia looking abysmal on the road earlier in the day in a blowout loss at Ole Miss. Tennessee will get a chance to seize complete control of the division next week when they head to Athens to take on those Georgia Bulldogs. A win there and the SEC East crown should be pretty easy to claim, although the Vols still have a road trip to Texas A&M and a home game against Alabama  after that Georgia game, so there is no easy path to the SEC East just yet.

And with a challenging schedule ahead of them in conference play the next few weeks, Florida is not out of the picture just yet. The Gators get no easy games with LSU and Arkansas in cross-division play, but a game at Vanderbilt next week offers a chance to bounce back before hosting LSU and Missouri and then taking on Georgia in Jacksonville. Florida can remain in the hunt, but the margin for error has been reduced as a result of this one.

SEC release list of player attendees for Media Days

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Back in June, the SEC released the dates and times the 14 coaches will appear for the conference’s Media Days this month.  Five days ahead of the start of the SEC Media Days July 13, the league has released the list of players who will travel to Alabama with their respective head coaches.

As has been the standard for years, each of the 14 teams will send three players to represent the schools, for a total of 42.  Not surprisingly, given the lack of returning talent at the position, there will be just five quarterbacks in attendance: Arkansas’ Brandon Allen, Auburn’s Jeremy Johnson, Mississippi State’s Dak Prescott, Missouri’s Maty Mauk and Tennessee’s Josh Dobbs.

Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia , Kentucky and Mississippi State are sending all-senior contingents, while South Carolina will be represented by nothing but juniors.  38 of the 42 players are either juniors or seniors, the lone exceptions being sophomores Brandon Powell (Florida, wide receiver), Leonard Fournette (LSU, running back), Nigel Bowden (Vanderbilt, linebacker) and Ralph Webb (Vanderbilt, running back).

The Gamecocks are the only team to bring one of their kickers (placekicker Elliott Fry), while Texas A&M is bringing three linemen (two offensive, one defensive).  All three Razorback players come from the offensive side of the ball.

Below is the complete list of SEC player attendees:

Alabama
*Reggie Ragland, Sr., LB
Kenyan Drake, Sr., RB
Ryan Kelly, Sr., OL

Arkansas
*Jonathan Williams, Sr., RB
Brandon Allen, Sr., QB
Keon Hatcher, Sr., WR

Auburn
*Jeremy Johnson, Jr., QB
Jonathan Jones, Sr., DB
Kris Frost, Sr., LB

Florida
*Jonathan Bullard, Sr., DE
Brandon Powell, So., WR
Vernon Hargreaves III, Jr., DB

Georgia
*Malcolm Mitchell, Sr., WR
John Theus, Sr., OT
Jordan Jenkins, Sr., OLB

Kentucky
*Melvin Lewis, Sr., NG
Jordan Swindle, Sr., OT
A.J. Stamps, Sr., S

LSU
*Leonard Fournette, So., RB
Vadal Alexander, Sr., OT
Kendell Beckwith, Jr., LB

Ole Miss
*Evan Engram, Jr., TE
Mike Hilton, Sr., DB
C.J. Johnson, Sr., LB

Mississippi State
*Dak Prescott, Sr., QB
Taveze Calhoun, Sr., DB
Ryan Brown, Sr., DE

Missouri
*Kenya Dennis, Sr., DB
Maty Mauk, Jr., QB
Evan Boehm, Sr., C

South Carolina
*Elliott Fry, Jr., PK
Pharoh Cooper, Jr., WR
Skai Moore, Jr., LB

Tennessee
*Joshua Dobbs, Jr., QB
Curt Maggitt, Sr., LB/DL
Cameron Sutton, Jr., DB

Texas A&M
*Mike Matthews, Sr., C
Germain Ifedi, Jr., OT
Julien Obioha, Sr., DL

Vanderbilt
*Ralph Webb, So., RB
Nigel Bowden, So., LB
Spencer Pulley, Sr., C

* ‘Beyond The Field: Stories of the SEC’ Representative

Gators grab 21-7 halftime lead on Pirates in Birmingham Bowl

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In the second-to-last non-playoff bowl game remaining, it’s a Power Five team getting the best of a Group of Five squad.

After two quarters of play, Florida overcame a sluggish start to grab a 21-7 halftime lead on East Carolina in the Birmingham Bowl.  This is just the second meeting between the two programs, with the first coming in 1983.

And while UF grabbed what for the moment is a comfortable lead, it was ECU that actually took an early 7-0 on a Justin Hardy touchdown reception, after which the all-time FBS leader in career receptions busted out the Gator Chomp.  After that, though, it was all Gators.

Appropriately enough, a defensive touchdown — a Brian Poole pick-six — opened the scoring for UF late in the first quarter.

Adam Lane, a 5-7, 222-pound redshirt freshman who could very well double as a beer keg in the offseason, led the Gators with 68 yards rushing on just four carries; entering this game, Lane had rushed for 72 yards the entire 2014 season.  Lane scored the first offensive touchdown for the Gators, a two-yard run early in the second quarter that gave UF its first lead of the game.

(Writer’s note: no, I don’t know if Lane “had an accident in his pants,”)

A Treon Harris 16-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Powell eight minutes later capped the Gators’ 21-0 run.

One of the few lowpoints for UF was a rather horrific one as Antonio Morrison, the team’s leading tackler, went down with what appeared to be a significant leg injury.  During the telecast, you could actually, very clearly, hear Morrison screaming out in pain, a disturbing sound that most could likely do without hearing.

Morrison was subsequently taken off the field on a cart for further evaluation by the football program’s medical personnel.

The Gators were outgained 282-161 in total offense, but only allowed the seven points.

ECU’s Shane Carden, the nation’s No. 2 passer in yards, passed for 203 in the first two quarters.  He also had a touchdown and interception, one of two Pirate turnovers.  The second one, a fumble by Kurt Benkert, came at the UF one-yard line late in the half as ECU was looking to cut the score to 21-14.

The Pirates did have a chance to cut the lead to 21-10 on the drive after that, but missed wide-right on a 42-yard field goal attempt with :42 remaining.