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Has Tennessee earned ‘favorite’ status in SEC East?

Does Tennessee deserve to be favored in SEC East over defensing champion Florida?

Has Tennessee earned “favorite” status in the SEC East? Our Frank Frangie has predicted the Volunteers to not only win the East, but the entire league.

In this episode of “The Florida Gator Podcast” with Shane Matthews and Brady Ackerman presented by Stonewood Grill, Peach Valley Cafe and Murray Ford, the two former Gators debate Tennessee’s likelihood of living up to preseason expectations and winning the East.

"It seems like they’ve been the team to beat the last few years," Matthews said. "They’ve got some talent there with Jalen Hurd and Joshua Dobbs at quarterback; he caused some problems. They have some weapons, but you know, they have a four-game stretch (September 24 vs. Florida, October 1 at Georgia, October 8 at Texas A&M, October 15 vs. Alabama) -- it's pretty difficult."

Matthews was a two-time SEC Offensive Player of the Year. Dobbs is a potential Heisman candidate. What does Matthews think of Dobbs?

"He’s a decent thrower; I wouldn’t say great," Mathews said. "I’m sure he’s worked on it all season. He’s such a dynamic runner and hard to bring down. I think that’s the one area that he needs to improve on. But with the way they play, the style, that spread, whatever you want to call it, he doesn’t have to be a great, great passer. But there are some times where he just misses some easy throws that could really help the team."

Matthews' assessment of Hurd?

"He’s a big dude," Matthews said. "He’s tough to bring down. He reminds me somewhat, maybe a little more elusive, kind of an Eddie George-type running back."

Florida has beaten Tennessee 11 years in a row. How much of a mental advantage do the Gators have over the Vols?

"I don’t think it’s really in their head, it’s more in the fans of the Tennessee Vols," Matthews said of the series' psychology. "You know, you hear the media talking about it. As a player, there’s so much turnover. I don’t know how many guys they’ve lost off last year’s team. And you’ve got new guys coming in. There will be newspaper clips on Twitter about the 11-game winning streak, but you can’t really worry about that. Every game is different, and you just can’t play tight. I do agree -- it does seem sometimes that Butch Jones’ team, in the last couple of years, has tightened up in some games they had a chance to win."

Finally, Matthews updates us on Steve Spurrier, who's back in Gainesville full time.

"He calls me almost two times a day and he just seems very happy," Matthews said. "I think he’s loving being back in Gainesville and being a part of the program. Whatever his title is, nobody really knows. Ambassador. He just seems to be very happy, enjoying life, loves being back in Gainesville."

You can listen to the entire podcast below.

(You can follow Brady Ackerman, @bradyack, and Shane Matthews, @SMniner, on Twitter)

© 2016, Brady Ackerman. All rights reserved.

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