Voice Of The Vols Bob Kessling Previews Florida-Tennessee

    Bob Kesling the voice of the Vols, joined the Gator Nation Football Podcast to discuss and preview the Florida-Tennessee football game on Saturday. The Gators are looking for their 12th straight victory over the Vols.

    September 21, 2016

    Bob Kesling, the voice of the Vols, joined the Gator Nation Football Podcast to preview Saturday’s Florida-Tennessee matchup.


    On Saturday, the Florida Gators and Tennessee Volunteers will take the field against each other for the 46th time. The Gators lead the all-time series, 26-19, and they’re also going for their 12th consecutive win over the Vols.

    Last season’s matchup would’ve snapped the streak had Will Grier not connected with Antonio Callaway for a go-ahead 63-yard touchdown pass on 4th and 14 from the Gators’ own 37-yard line.

    Tennessee had one last chance on a 55-yard field goal attempt that barely sailed wide right as time expired.

    The 2016 season has produced perfect starts for both the Gators and Vols through the first three weeks of the season, setting up another primetime matchup between the rivals. When former Tennessee fullback Bob Kesling, the voice of the Vols, joined the Gator Nation Football Podcast, he broke down Tennessee’s play so far this season.

    “Well, I think, at this point in time, the fans are happy the team’s 3-0. They’re not exactly happy with the way they got to 3-0. They thought some of these games — like against Appalachian State and against Ohio — they would have steamrolled those opponents, and they really didn’t,” he said.

    Kesling pointed out how lucky Butch Jones and his team have been in their wins over Appalachian State (20-13), Virginia Tech (45-24) and Ohio (28-19), with turnovers being a major problem for Tennessee.

    “I guess the most amazing stat that comes forth is — and just kind of indicates how fortunate Tennessee is to be 3-0 and how sloppy Tennessee’s been at times getting there — Tennessee’s fumbled 11 times this year, and they’ve lost one of those. And that was a punt return that Cam Sutton fumbled that [Appalachian] State took in for a touchdown,” Kesling said. “But since then, offensively, they’ve fumbled 10 times, and the ball has just bounced their way.”

    The win over the Mountaineers in Week 1 ended in bizarre fashion but highlighted Kesling’s point. Quarterback Joshua Dobbs fumbled on the goal line in overtime, and it was recovered by running back Jalen Hurd in the end zone to give the Vols the win.

    There’s nothing wrong with having a little luck on your side. There are many cases where it’s better to be lucky than good.

    But the voice of the Vols believes Tennessee’s luck will run out if it doesn’t play better against Florida — even with the game taking place in Neyland Stadium.

    “They’ve been sloppy. They haven’t really played with a lot of sharpness. Of course, the coaches will tell you, it’s a game of 11, and one guy’s breaking down, and that’s what’s costing ’em … They’re still gonna’ have to sharpen things up against Florida. You just can’t be sloppy in the SEC and survive,” Kesling said.

    Another big key for the Vols is the play of quarterback Joshua Dobbs. He’s completed 60 percent of his passes for 486 yards, six touchdowns and three interceptions so far, but his play has been scrutinized because he’s not a prototypical quarterback.

    And when asked whether or not Dobbs can elevate his game to lead Jones’ team to a national championship, Kesling laid the cards on the table by saying the quarterback’s saving grace is his clutch gene.

    “They’ve been saying that for three years: Is [Dobbs] gonna’ get there? One thing he does, he makes plays. When you need a first down, or you need him to make a great throw, he does it,” Kesling said. “There’s some other times [when] you kind of scratch your head and think, ‘Well, his footwork’s not very good. He doesn’t throw spirals, and he threw that ball behind that receiver…’ But when it’s 3rd down and 8, and they need a big play to keep a drive alive, or more importantly, to win the game, he makes ’em. And that’s the one reason he’s playing.”

    Kesling acknowledged that Dobbs’ lack of progression as a pure pocket passer has, at times, stressed out both Tennessee fans and the Vols’ coaching staff, but as long as he delivers when it matters, he’s is the guy to have under center.

    “For whatever reason, he’s a playmaker, and when you need him the most is when he steps up the most. And it’s not always the prettiest. It’s not always the way you’d draw it up. And a lot of times, the coaches chewed their fingernails right down to the nub, but he makes plays,” he said.

    In their 2015 meeting, Dobbs completed 10-of-17 passes for 83 yards, but he had a momentous 58-yard-touchdown reception on a trick play halfway through the first quarter.

    This is a new-look Florida defense, though. Even with the losses of Vernon Hargreaves III, Keanu Neal, Antonio Morrison, Jonathan Bullard and others, the Gators come into this game with the nation’s No. 1 defense.

    “Florida is a tremendously talented defense. Tennessee has been juggling personnel on the offensive line … how Tennessee’s offensive line holds up against the Florida defense will be a big factor in the game as well,” Kesling said.

    Another big factor will be the absence of redshirt sophomore quarterback Luke Del Rio, who went down in the Gators’ Week 3 win over North Texas. Graduate transfer Austin Appleby is getting the start, and Kesling believes that will have a big impact and help the Vols snap the losing streak.

    “I think it’s gonna’ be close. All these games have been close the last several weeks. I think if Tennessee takes care of the football— Florida, especially with their quarterback situation, I think they’re gonna’ have a hard time scoring a lot of points against Tennessee. And I know Tennessee’s gonna’ have a hard time against Florida … Tennessee’s favored, and I think Tennessee’s gonna’ figure out a way to win,” he said.

    MORE: Florida Gators Send Tennessee Blunt Message – ‘We Are Going To Win’

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