GAINESVILLE, Fla. -- These five Florida players have something to prove or need to redeem themselves when the No. 18 Gators play at No. 23 Tennessee on Saturday (6 p.m. ET, ESPN):
RB/FB Trey Burton: UF coach Will Muschamp and offensive coordinator Brent Pease have raved about Burton’s versatility -- as did the previous coaching staff -- and how much of an impact he could have on the offense. However, through two games Burton has two carries for 1 yard and four catches for 28 yards. He did catch a 3-yard pass on a fake field goal to convert a first down and ran for another first down against A&M, but Pease needs to get Burton more involved so he can make a bigger impact on an offense without a lot of playmakers.
KR/PR Andre Debose: Texas A&M took him out of the game last week by kicking the ball deep into the end zone, which is something he has no control over. However, he misplayed two punts. Instead of making a fair catch he let them bounce. Then, inexplicably, he didn’t get away from the ball as it bounced along the ground, and one time even hit one of the players who were circled around the ball to down it. Had he been hit by the ball it would have been live and A&M could have recovered. Debose has to be smarter in his approach.
RB Mike Gillislee: He has already proven that he’s capable of carrying Florida’s offense (he leads the SEC with 231 yards rushing) but the biggest question about Gillislee was if he would be able to stay healthy throughout the season because he’s been injured the past two seasons. Well, two games in and he’s got a groin strain. He practiced this week, and UF coach Will Muschamp said he’ll be able to play against the Vols, but how effective can he be? Backups Matt Jones and Mack Brown are averaging 3.4 and 2.9 yards per carry, respectively, and have a combined 18 carries. Gillislee has to prove he can be counted on all season.
WR Frankie Hammond: Muschamp called Hammond the Gators’ most consistent receiver throughout the spring and August, but the redshirt senior has nearly as many drops (three) as catches (five) in two games. He missed what would have been a touchdown pass against Texas A&M on a slant pattern when Jeff Driskel’s pass went through his hands at the goal line. Hammond has to become a more reliable player, because the Gators certainly don’t have many of those at receiver.
CB Marcus Roberson: Roberson had a hard time against the Vols last season, committing two of the Gators’ six pass interference penalties, including one which wiped out what would have been his first career interception. Roberson will again have his hands full with UT’s big receivers (6-foot-4 Justin Hunter and 6-3 Cordarrelle Patterson) on Saturday. Roberson has to be smarter in how he plays those two. It’s OK to be physical, but he’s got to make sure he doesn’t become overly aggressive and help keep drives alive for the Vols.