2. KEYS TO THE SEASON
Biggest Key To The Tennessee Offense
The running game has to start working. Just about everything about the offensive improvement starts with better play from the offensive line – more on that in a moment – with the ground attack way too much of an issue over the last few seasons.
Good in 2016, Tennessee averaged more than five yards per carry, rumbled for 31 scores, and finished with close to 2,700 yards – having a running QB in Josh Dobbs and that Alvin Kamara guy helped with that. In 2017, things fell off the map with just 1,409 yards and 14 scores, averaging 3.4 yards per carry.
Last year? 1,549 yards and 15 touchdowns averaging 3.7 yards per pop. It was way too inconsistent and rumbled for 200 yards or more just two times. However, one of those times was when it took over the game right away in the win over Kentucky.
On the other side …
Biggest Key To The Tennessee Defense
Toughen up against the run. The defense has to be far, far better in the red zone, and it needs to generate a whole lot more big plays after forcing just 15 takeaways, but more than anything else, the front seven in the 3-4 has to stuff the run.
The Vols got hit for 200 rushing yards or more five of the eight SEC games, and lost all five. In the other three games, the D stuffed Auburn and Kentucky – winning both games – and had other issues in the loss to Vanderbilt.
Since allowing 535 yards in the mini-miracle win over Georgia Tech to start the 2011 season, Tennessee is 0-11 when giving up 200.
Key Player To A Successful Season
OT Darnell Wright, Fr.
The blocking has to be far, far better, and the improvement starts with the newbies.
Go ahead and throw classmate Wanya Morris in the equation, too, for possibly taking over offensive tackle jobs from Day One as true freshmen. The coaching staff loaded on on fantastic offensive line prospects, and the 6-6, 300-pound Wright was the best get of the bunch.
The West Virginia native has prototype next-level left tackle upside, and in a perfect world, he’s an instant answer to a shaky tackle situation with Trey Smith’s medical issues continuing to be a concern.
Key Game To The Tennessee Season
at Florida, Sept. 21
2003. That was the last time Tennessee went to Gainesville and came away with a win. 2016. That was the last time the Vols beat the Gators, losing 12 of the last 13 in the series.
With Georgia, Mississippi State, and at Alabama to follow, it’s going to be a tough start to the SEC season no matter what – especially if they lose to the Gators again.
2006 was the last time they beat Alabama, and getting Georgia again – the two are 2-2 in the last four meetings – is vital, but Florida is going to be one of the hot teams coming into the season, and pulling off a win in the SEC opener would be a really, really big turning point deal for the program. – Tennessee Schedule Breakdown & Analysis
2018 Tennessee Fun Stats
– Tennessee 1st Quarter Scoring: 40 – 2nd Quarter Scoring: 100
– Interceptions Thrown: Opponents 9 – Tennessee 5
– Onside Kicks: Tennessee 0-for-6 – Opponents 0-for-1