The Vols face their biggest rival on Saturday, but this Florida team is anything but full-strength right now.
They have faced nearly unprecedented adversity already this season. According to Florida head coach Jim McElwain, about 60 player's families were affected by Hurricane Irma this past week. More than 90 percent of their roster is from The Sunshine State, so they've been dealing with a lot of concerns outside of football, and of course UF had to cancel their Week 2 matchup against Northern Colorado, and even miss a day of practice this week.
"Our thoughts in this game go a lot farther than the selfish reasons you play a game, but more so the big picture reasons you play the game," said McElwain. "I know our guys are excited to play and hopefully play with a little bit of passion and desire for the people of Florida."
Then, there are the player suspensions. Nearly a dozen athletes were suspended last month for misusing school-issued funds. In a press conference Wednesday afternoon, McElwain said there has not been any update on the suspensions. That implies that Florida will likely be without nine players, including some of their top play makers in Gators' star receiver Antonio Callaway and their starting running back Jordan Scarlett.
"In terms of game-planning we game plan just like we prepare that everyone's playing," said Tennessee head coach Butch Jones on Wednesday. "Again, they're going to do what they do and we're going to do what we do. It really comes down to the discipline to execute for a long period of time, the ability to focus on every snap, and the ability to play with great team effort and great team camaraderie."
Not to mention, the have issues to sort out at quarterback. Redshirt freshman quarterback Feileipe Franks will get the start on Saturday.
Kickoff at the Swamp is set for 3:30 p.m. EST.