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So far in 2021, Tennessee’s looking like the overweight kid who finished the race last, but who still receives a standing ovation from onlooking parents because he put in a solid, albeit unexpected, effort. And in this case, the clap-happy parent is Florida head coach Dan Mullen, who spent his weekend handing out compliments to chubby Volunteers.
The Gators downed Tennessee 38-14 in a game that was tight through three quarters.
Dan Mullen on Tennessee: That was a different looking team than I saw last year, to be honest with you – how they played, their intensity, their toughness, their physicalness.
— Blake Toppmeyer (@btoppmeyer) September 26, 2021
Following the game, Mullen praised the 2-2 Volunteers, who are in their first season under the direction of head coach Josh Heupel. “Coming into the game, that was a different looking team than I saw last year, to be honest with you – how they played, the intensity, the toughness, the physicalness that they played with,” Mullen commented to reporters. “I’ll give them some credit. I think they’re a much, much improved football team.”
Tennessee quarterback Hendon Hooker, who threw for 221 yards and two touchdowns against a stout Gator defense, was amongst those on the receiving end of Mullen’s praise. “Their quarterback, I thought, played really well,” Mullen said.
Ultimately, the entire Volunteers team appeared to present more of a challenge than Florida was expecting. “You can see the improvements they’ve made in one year and what Coach Heupel is doing with them and how those guys play. Our guys had to come out and play hard for four quarters,” added Mullen.
Until the Vols can start chowing down on the competition, they’ll have to settle for a belly full of compliments.