Vols Notes: Tennessee playing at Florida as scheduled

Vols Notes: Tennessee playing at Florida as scheduled

September 13th, 2017 by David Cobb in Sports - College

Tennessee quarterback Quinten Dormady (12) pulls down a snap during the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game against Georgia Tech at Mercedes-Benz Stadium on Monday, Sept. 4, in Atlanta, Ga.

Photo by C.B. Schmelter

KNOXVILLE — Tennessee will go Gator hunting in the Swamp on Saturday after all.

Hurricane Irma cast uncertainty over the logistics of Saturday's Tennessee-Florida football game, but Southeastern Conference officials announced Tuesday that the SEC opener for both schools will continue as scheduled with a 3:30 p.m. start in Gainesville.

"The University of Florida has been diligent in assessing the impact of Hurricane Irma on the Gainesville community and has made a thoughtful decision in moving forward with the game," SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement released by the league.

The Gators (0-1) canceled their home opener against Northern Colorado last weekend in anticipation of the storm, which swept through the Sunshine State on Sunday, leaving flooding, downed trees and power outages in its path.

Tennessee (2-0) has not won in Gainesville since 2003. The Volunteers snapped an 11-game losing streak to the Gators with a victory in Knoxville last season.

FILE - In this Sept. 21, 2013, file photo, then-Florida running back Mack Brown (33) runs a 3-yard touchdown past Tennessee defensive back Justin Coleman (27) during the first half of an NCAA college football game in Gainesville, Fla. After inspecting the stadium, meeting with campus and city officials, and assessing available resources, Florida decided its Southeastern Conference opener against Tennessee would be played as scheduled. So it’s game on in Gainesville. The SEC announced Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2017, that the league opener between the No. 23 Volunteers (2-0) and the 24th-ranked Gators (0-1) will remain a 3:30 p.m. kickoff at Florida Field on Saturday, Sept. 16, 2017, keeping the game intact less than a week after Hurricane Irma devastated parts of the Sunshine State. (AP Photo/John Raoux, File)

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Photo by The Associated Press/Times Free Press.

"We'll play wherever," Tennessee junior quarterback Quinten Dormady said Tuesday. "That's got to be our mindset. I think that is this team's mindset. Wherever we play, we're going to go out and compete and do what we can to win in the end."

Though much of Florida remains in recovery mode following the storm, a Tennessee official said Wednesday that the team's Friday travel plans appear to be unaffected by the turmoil.

In its announcement that the game will continue as scheduled, the league advised fans that traffic may be heavier than normal on the way to the game.

The University of Florida will provide an opportunity at the game for fans to contribute to hurricane relief efforts, though exact plans have not been announced yet.

"We appreciate the communication from both our friends in Gainesville and the conference office as this assessment was made," Tennessee athletic director John Currie said in the league's announcement. "Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected by Hurricane Irma and other recent storms throughout the SEC footprint, and we're grateful for the opportunity to travel to Florida this weekend."

Latrell Williams?

An unfamiliar name surged to the top of the list at one of Tennessee's receiver positions on the depth chart this week. Redshirt freshman Latrell Williams, who was held out of the Indiana State game due to injury, is listed as the starting slot receiver.

Williams made his debut in the season-opening win over Georgia Tech but did not have a catch in the game.

"Very explosive, obviously very fast and can do it all," Dormady said of Williams. "When he gets his opportunity, I sure hope he's ready."

The 5-foot-11 player from Lake City, Fla. was clocked at a blistering 4.27 seconds in the 40-yard dash during high school.

Williams' emergence comes as fellow slot receivers Tyler Byrd and Josh Smith have also dealt with injuries. All three are expected to be available against Florida.

Smith, a redshirt senior, would make his season debut if he plays against the Gators.

"He's an experienced guy that's played down there before," offensive coordinator Larry Scott said of Smith. "He's played in all the SEC arenas. The experience you can't teach and can't coach. You either have guys that have it or not. He's one of those guys (that has it), so it's good to have him back."

Contact David Cobb at dcobb@timesfreepress.com.