NASHVILLE, Tenn. — When Tennessee football hosted Florida, Gator wide receiver Ricky Pearsall couldn’t help but laugh. He doesn’t know why he chose to laugh, but the crowd noise caught him off-guard.
Over 102,000 fans screaming was not what Pearsall expected, he didn’t think any stadium could compare to the Swamp.
“When I went over there I was actually shocked it even compared to the Swamp,” Pearsall said at SEC Media Days. “I still don’t think it compares, I’m going to take the Swamp over it. Their fans were really loud. I remember the first play, I walked out there. We broke the huddle and I just started laughing because of how loud it was. My first reaction was to laugh, it was a really good environment.”
Defensive back Jason Marshall echoed Pearsall on Wednesday when asked how Neyland Stadium compares to Gainesville.
“Nothing compares to the swamp, I’ll say that much,” Marshall added.
After falling to the Vols 38-33 in Knoxville, that game is circled on the calendar for the Gators. As if the rivalry wasn’t enough, but Florida is trying to reestablish itself atop the SEC.
The Vols, who head to the Swamp on Sept. 16, can expect a raucous crowd and a motivated team.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Marshall said. “I’m looking forward to all the games, but that’s one of the games in particular that I’m very excited about. How Tennessee’s offense is and they were high-powered last year.
Said Pearsall, “I’m looking forward to every game but obviously first up we got Utah, so we’re locked in on that. Obviously, the teams that we lost to last year, we got them circled. We’re going to have to approach it like every other game, but their fans go crazy like ours.”
Hendon Hooker threw for 349 yards and two touchdowns to defeat the Gators. They did not go quietly though, with Anthony Richardson throwing for 453 yards and two touchdowns.
“They had a really good year last year, they’re a really talented team, they’re a really well-coached team,” Pearsall said. “But I’m just worried about the guys in my locker room right now.”