3 Tennessee Volunteers to blame for ugly loss to Florida

The Tennessee Volunteers suffered a humiliating loss to the Florida Gators and the blame only has a few places to fall.
Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel
Tennessee head coach Josh Heupel / Brianna Paciorka/News Sentinel / USA
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Tennessee's first taste of conference action in 2023 couldn't have gone more poorly. The Volunteers faced off with the Florida Gators in Gainesville and got their lunch handed to them, 29-16.

Some fans may want to blame the refs after an undoubtedly frustrating performance from the officials. They missed calls and kicked balls in ways that seemed to favor the Gators at every turn.

But even if you want to tear into the refs, there's no denying the Volunteers only have themselves to blame for the outcome.

Volunteers to blame for loss to Florida: No. 3 Tim Banks

In other matchups this season, giving up 29 points on defense won't be the end of the world. But Florida isn't one of the best offenses in the SEC and Graham Mertz is far from the best quarterback on the schedule.

This is defensive coordinator Tim Banks' third year in the role. He owns every defensive result and Saturday was not much of a showcase.

The game was lost in the first half. The Gators marched down the field for touchdowns on four of their first five drives. The only drive that didn't result in a score was 14 plays and ended in a blocked field goal.

Trevor Etienne broke free for a long 62-yard touchdown and went on to rack up 172 yards on the ground. Tennessee couldn't figure out how to stop him.

This was the same Gators offense that managed 11 points against Utah in the season opener. That's not to say Tennessee should expect to have a defense as good as Utah's, but Vols fans could have at least hoped they'd make it somewhat difficult for Florida.

The one positive to say about the defense is they limited Florida to just three points in the second half. That was too little, too late on a night when the Tennessee offense had even less to give...