Howdy, My Friends,
Here we are with the start of the Vol’s SEC Schedule. This is an interesting match up. Two teams that are totally different and a lot alike. A “New Coach” and one of the “Most Senior” SEC Coaches. Both teams have talented individuals and new comers. Both have lost games on the road but the Dawgs were huge favorites and the Vols were huge underdogs. Last year’s underdog Vol Team played the Dawgs off their feet in Knoxville. This year we are going to Athens.
I think that the Vols can win this game on the road. In order to do that they must do several things. Some of those things are things that Vols have to do and some are things that they have to keep GA from doing. That is a point counterpoint issue.
My 1st point is that the Vols have to play defense in Athens like they did in the 2nd Half in Norman. To do that they have to contain the run, keep the Dawgs yards per play low, force GA into 3rd and long, and then win 3rd Down. In short tackle and put pressure on GA’s QB. That is a tall order. However, playing in Norman was a good prep for this game in each of the areas above. They have shown that they could do those things against a Top 5 Team on the ROAD.
My 2nd point is that the Vol OL and pass receivers (WR/ TE/ RB’s) must step up their play to keep the GA Defense off balance. The Dawg DL and especially their LB’s want to be aggressive and take the Vols out of their game with pressure. On both the running and passing plays our guys need to take the game to GA and block aggressively. When we run the ball everyone needs to make their blocks. When we pass, the receivers need to get into their routes and fight for the ball. We cannot have DB’s taking the ball from our WR’s. We need to pass and protect the QB better than we did in Norman. We have seen what happens when the players do not do that.
My 3rd point is that the “Special Teams” need to be SPECIAL in all areas in this game. Consistent and productive are the key words. We need our best results in kicking, punting, coverage, and returning for the season. This is a real strength in the GA Football Team. They are really excellent in these areas and we need to beat them in each of them.
My 4th point is that this team fights and is in the physical condition they need to be in to stay in a close game for all four quarters. They have had a tough game loss and did not quit. I do not think that the Dawgs have done that this year. That can make a difference in the 2nd and 4th QTRs of the game.
My last point is that Butch and this staff have an excellent record wins vs. losses after an open date. They do a great job of off season game preparation especially for the SEC games. Look at last year’s USC and GA games.
We are short a couple of really good WR’s but we still have exceptional talent on the field. The WR’s and TE’s will be going against a group of DB’s that have shown that they can be beat. The key for that is for our younger players to play to the level of their talent and play to match their potential. This will be the first game where the next generation of TE’s for the Vols will be able and really ready to play together. Wolf has been a player from Day 1 and I think that Helm really grew up in Oklahoma in the second half. They can play a huge role in keeping the GA defense off balance.
When I look at the travel list for the Vols I know that Butch has some things to show the Dawgs that they have not seen before from this Vol Team. Both the offense and defense have players that can make plays available this weekend that they have not had earlier in the year. Scott on offense and Saulsberry on defense can both make plays. We can play a two TE combination in this game that can do things that were only in the playbook two weeks ago in both the running and passing game. I think that we are ready to play some “Power Football”.
I am stoked and ready for the Vols to play tonight…BEAT THOSE DAWGS!!