GAINESVILLE, Fla. — Justin Hunter entered Saturday’s game as the leading receiver in the SEC.
Through two games, the 6-foot-4, 200-pound athletic freak had 16 receptions for 302 yards and two touchdowns.
But on UT’s fourth offensive play in the Volunteers’ 33-23 loss to Florida, Hunter’s season ended with an ACL tear after hauling in a Tyler Bray pass for 12 yards and a first down.
Trying to cut to the middle of the field, Hunter fell to the ground and immediately grabbed his left knee.
Hunter’s injury allowed the Gators to double-team Da’Rick Rogers, the Vols’ only other dependable wide-out.
“As a play-maker, it shouldn’t matter,” Rogers said. “I should just make plays.”
Rogers finished with five receptions for 62 yards and a touchdown. Tight end Mychael Rivera added five catches for a career-high 71 yards and his first touchdown as a Vol.
The biggest benefactor of Hunter’s absence was freshman DeAnthony Arnett, who hauled in a game-high eight passes for 59 yards. Arnett didn’t catch any passes in UT’s first two games of the season.
“It was good to get him out there,” Dooley said. “He’s going to have to play a lot now. He got eight catches, a bunch of little short stuff. He’s going to have to grow up. Vincent Dallas is going to have to grow up.”
Dallas and sophomore Matt Milton each recorded their first career receptions. Junior Zach Rogers added two catches for 34 yards and tailbacks Tauren Poole and Marlin Lane combined for three catches for 32 yards and a touchdown.
Running game woes continue

The Vols’ ground attack was an area of concern entering the game, and its non-existence made UT’s offense virtually one-dimensional.
Tennessee finished with -9 rushing yards, and got just 18 yards from senior tailback Tauren Poole, his lowest total as a starter.
“There was no running game so there’s no real use in talking about it,” Poole said.

‘Stone’walled snaps
Sophomore center James Stone had multiple low snaps when UT ran from shotgun formations.
Stone, who’s naturally left-handed, worked all off-season to snap right-handed. He said Florida’s defensive line, which Dooley said was the most talented in the country, wasn’t the reason for the poor snaps; he let it get into his head, causing him to think too much.
“I wasn’t getting it back there fast enough,” Stone said. “I wasn’t finishing my snaps full. I kind of got in a hurry and got rushed a little bit.”

 Tough Bray

One of the knocks on Bray is how he will hold up for a full season against physical SEC defenses. Despite being sacked only three times, Bray was pressured all day by the Gators and impressed teammates with his toughness.
“Bray showed incredible toughness,” Da’Rick Rogers said. “I mean, the way he was getting hit and had pressure today, I’m surprised he can still walk.”

Notes and such

 UT’s captains for the game were senior linebacker Daryl Vereen, senior cornerback Art Evans and sophomore right tackle Ja’Wuan James.
Evans started for the first time this season. He started six games last year before being suspended for the team’s last six games.
Sophomore defensive end Marlon Walls made his first career start on Saturday. Senior Ben Martin started the first two games of the year but battled a left knee injury all week.
Florida extended its record winning-streak over Tennessee to seven games and improved to 22-19 all-time against the Vols.

Up Next

UT will regroup with an open date this week before preparing for an Oct. 8 home game with Buffalo.