Week 3 of the 2023 college football season may not have had the best schedule of games on paper, but there was still some excitement. Kansas State was upset by Missouri, while Georgia and Alabama suffered scares against South Carolina and South Florida, respectively. The trend of top teams struggling against beatable opponents on Saturday, Sept. 16, continued.
The No. 11 Tennessee Volunteers were on the road to take on the 1-1 Florida Gators. After one half of football, the Volunteers find themselves trailing 26-7 in a one-sided affair.
One player in Tennessee who was heavily criticized was quarterback Joe Milton. In the second quarter, Milton threw his first interception since 2020 when he was picked off by Florida cornerback Devin Moore. That decision was costly, as Florida extended their lead to 19-7 on a one-yard run by quarterback Graham Mertz.
Milton completed just 8-of-12 pass attempts for 92 yards, one touchdown, and one interception through the first two quarters.
Tennessee fans on social media and message boards voiced their displeasure over Milton's performance and called for freshman quarterback Nico Iamaleava to get some playing time.
Tennessee fans voice displeasure over Joe Milton's first half vs. Florida
Tennessee was seemingly in a good position to start the game. The Volunteers' defense blocked a 46-yard field goal attempt by Florida's Adam Mihalek, and Milton completed an 11-yard touchdown pass to Ramel Keyton to take a 7-0 lead. From there, things went downhill.
On their next two drives, Florida scored touchdowns, one being a 62-yard run by Trevor Etienne and a four-yard run by Montrell Johnson Jr.
Just prior to halftime, Florida extended their lead to 26-7 on an 18-yard touchdown pass from Mertz to Johnson.
Tennessee had the chance to potentially climb up the rankings, considering Alabama struggled against USF. But after one half of football, the Volunteers were in danger of losing their first game of the season.