|Crowell on the carry (Image:Hipple)|
Now we are strong on defense, especially passing defense. We're second in the nation in 3rd down defense. Teams are scoring on us when they get into the red zone, but teams have only been in the red zone 9 times all season. Nine. That is good for top 10 in the nation. Tennessee has been in the red zone 22 times, good for top 25 in the nation. The Vols like to sling it down the field, the one thing Kellen Moore wasn't really able to do in the opener. If Rambo and the corners play strong, I look for a win. I don't expect to keep the Vols out of the end zone all night, but I do expect them to have to earn the scores. If they hit a couple of quick deep pass plays, I could be in the market for a new shirt.
On offense, I like our chances to run the ball on them. The Vols got eaten alive by Florida with Demps and Rainey. For that matter, Cincy and Buffalo had more success running the ball against them. One interesting note, they are much better in the second half against the run, averaging a full 3.33 yards per carry better in the second half. That is why I think Bobo will be forced to be let go of his four corners offensive philosophy and keep Tennessee's defense on their toes. Tennessee lets up in the 3rd Q in passing D, with that being the highest QB rating allowed. Will Crowell get that signature long run he's been dreaming about?
Overall, I'm nervous, but like our chances. If we can run the ball effectively and take shots down the field with our deep threats, which I think we can, we'll be in the game. If our defense can force Tennessee into a short zone passing game, instead of allowing them to open it up, which is easily their strength, I like our chances.
Matchups to watch:
-Rambo/Boykin on Da'Rick. Easy choice, right? Rogers has become Bray's go to man. Put aside the Twitter/Facebook non-sense; this is where the Vols will focus early. Establish Rogers and spread the ball to Rivera and Arnett. A few token running plays for good measure. Shut down Rogers and you force Tennessee into a game they aren't prepared to play and probably can't win.
-Their punting vs. our punt return team. So much hilarity could ensue. It is possible to see a blocked punt, a punt returned for a TD, a fake punt and a fat guy TD. Hell, it is possible to see that on one play. We don't want to play field position exchange with them. Bobo is much more comfortable opening the playbook with room to operate. Their passing game is too dangerous to only make them go 50 yards for a TD.
-UGA Oline vs. their blitz package. Murray has been hit way too much. Changes are afoot on our line. We've got to keep him protected. If he starts forcing and short arming throws, we'll give them too many opportunities to score, either through lack of conversions or picks.
I expect Dooley to have seen what Mississippi State did with that little jet/bubble screen and use it to free up the deep guys. Also, lest we forget, the misdirection and play action Tennessee used in 07 and 09 to clean our clocks remains the one thing our defense still consistently fails to play strong on. We have to be ready for that or find a way to neutralize that threat.