Tennessee vs Florida by the Seven Game Maxims

Continuing our evaluation of each Vol game, and Tennessee’s performance, by General Robert Neyland’s Seven Game Maxims, let’s look at Saturday’s Florida-Tennessee tilt.

Neyland developed these metrics as a teaching tool for his Vol teams. In the 1930s, Tennessee players began reciting them in the locker room before each game, just as they do today. Those seven maxims, stated below, are what Neyland thought it took to win a football game.

1. The team that makes the fewest mistakes will win.
2. Play for and make the breaks, and when one comes your way – SCORE!
3. If at first the breaks or the game go against you, don’t let up… put on more steam.
4. Protect our kickers, our quarterback, our lead, and our ballgame.
5. Ball, oskie, cover, block, cut and slice, pursue and gang tackle… for this is “the winning edge”.
6. Press the kicking game. Here is where the breaks are made.
7. Carry the fight to your opponent and keep it there for 60 minutes.


An evaluation of the Tennessee – Florida game on September 18, 2010, with an emphasis on the Vols’ performance, will help explain the game’s outcome and illuminate the overall performance of Tennessee.

No. 1-MISTAKES: Tennessee had nine infractions for 54 yards. Two defensive offsides calls gave the Gators offense easier times to make first downs. A face mask call on a Florida kickoff return gave the Gators extra yards on an already long return. A penalty on the opening kickoff forced the Vols to start their first drive from their 10-yard line. But, the worst mistakes were not penalties committed. Simms’ intercepted pass in the end zone after gaining possession on a Florida turnover was a giant moment in the contest. The Vols getting caught flat-footed on a Florida fake-punt that kept possession, and ended in a TD for the Gators was the biggest play of the game. Cunningham’s short kick-off going out of bounds gave Florida excellent field position right after the Vols scored a shocking TD on a long, fourth-down pass play to get within 7 points. And, Tauren Poole’s fumble at the end of a very nice gain ended any chance for the Vols to make a late-contest comeback. Florida’s mistakes were far fewer and less damaging overall. Grade: D

No.2-BREAKS: Tennessee made an early break by recovering a Gator fumble on a punt. The Vols subsequently drove the ball inside the Florida five yard line but were unable to score when Matt Simms threw an INT in the end zone. On the other hand, Urban Meyer’s immense gamble that changed the entire contest – a converted fake punt in the third quarter after Tennessee had evened the score 10-10 – was a monumental break. Grade: C-

No.3-DON’T LET UP: It looked dicey for the Vols during their first two possessions, but they stopped the Gators on an attempted 4th down conversion. The Simms’ INT pass into the end zone could have deflated Tennessee, but they came right back and stopped the Gators’ next possession. Down 10-3 early in the second half, the Vols quickly scored a TD on a 3-play drive. Florida was excellent with respect to this maxim. When Tennessee tied the score 10-10 on a long pass play in the third quarter, The Gators quickly responded with at TD with the aid of the fake punt. And, when Tennessee cut the Gator lead to 7 with another long pass play, the Gators came right back with a big TD drive. Grade: B

No.4-PROTECTIONS: Matt Simms was sacked six times, and the Gators’ defensive front made their way into the Vol backfield on numerous other instances. Grade: D

No.5-THE WINNING EDGE: The Vols exhibited great energy and effort throughout the game, showing a big improvement from last week. The Vol defense made great pursuits on multiple occasions, and held the Gators’ run game in check for the majority of the game. Grade: B

No.6-PRESS THE KICKING GAME: Tennessee showed good pursuit on a couple of kicks and Eric Gordon did a masterful job on pressuring the Gator punt returner who fumbled to Give Tennessee a golden opportunity in the second quarter. However, Florida were allowed good field positions on too many kickoffs. Grade: C

No.7-CARRY THE FIGHT: The Vols gave it their all. Tennessee didn’t execute well for the majority of the contest, but it wasn’t due to a lack of effort. Their excellent energy kept them in this game – never a minute of let-up was seen.  Grade: A

Again, as for last week, losing this game was no disgrace. The effort was exemplary. However, the mistakes, the inability to capitalize on a very big break, and exhibiting poor protection for Simms and the RBs in the second half made it nearly impossible for the great effort to manifest as a win.

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