GAINESVILLE -- Butch Jones new-look Tennessee Volunteers were gashed for 59 points and close to 700 yards of offense in the loss to No. 2 Oregon last weekend.
The Vols (2-1), losers of 17 consecutive games against ranked foes, have dropped the past eight meetings against No. 19 Florida (1-1).
And yet Tennessee has a chance albeit a slim one to end several ugly streaks in Ben Hill Griffin Stadium on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. because of two significant factors.
The Volunteers top the Southeastern Conference in takeaways (nine) and red-zone defense (66.7 percent): booby traps for Floridas enigmatic offense.
The Gators are a league-worst 6-of-12 scoring in the red zone. Florida also leads the SEC in turnovers (six) despite playing just two games.
Were four of 12 scoring touchdowns in the red zone for the season, coach Will Muschamp said. If you end every possession with a kick, you win the game. Were minus four [turnover margin], and thats why were sitting here 1-1.
The Gators continue to struggle generating explosive plays their 5.61 yards per play ranks No. 13 in the conference ahead of only the Volunteers but UF has moved the ball fairly well in 2013.
Its offense is up 80 yards a game compared with last season, and quarterback Jeff Driskel is actually tied with Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron in total passing yardage (444).
But Floridas opponents 20-yard line has been the doorway to a house of horrors.
The Gators scored on just 2 of 6 chances in the red zone in the close loss to Miami, turning the ball over three times, including a pair of Driskel interceptions.
No ones been able to stop us when we havent had a turnover or a penalty, Driskel said. So we just worry about us first and then taking care of the other team second. If we can handle us, well be fine.
Offensive coordinator Brent Pease said the team has complete confidence in Driskel but suggested the quarterbacks options in the red zone will be limited moving forward.
Ive got to do a better job of maybe controlling what we give him. The sort of options, Pease said. Hes mature enough. Hell handle things.
Driskel had the best game of his career last season against the Volunteers, completing 14 of 20 passes for 219 yards, two touchdowns and zero turnovers in Floridas 37-20 comeback win.
It was the first time I really took over a game, he said. We played well against a good team, and were going to have to do that again this Saturday.
Florida torched Tennessee for 555 yards in 2012 its highest total yardage in the Muschamp era.
Although Oregon shredded the Volunteers defense last weekend, and the once-thriving UF-UT 90s rivalry has dissipated, the Gators still expect the Volunteers best shot this weekend.
We told our kids, You gotta throw out [UTs game vs. Oregon] because one, this is the SEC, theyre coming here to play us and its a rivalry game, Pease said. We gotta understand that the passion between the two teams and probably some hatred between the two teams, and the competition level of what youre gonna get from them.