Vols Game Preview: Tennessee Establishes Identity… For Real This Time


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Jordan Mayton, from VFL Insider

Vols Game Preview

Tennessee Volunteers (2-1) vs Massachusetts Minutemen (0-4)

Saturday, September 23, Noon PM (ET) on SEC Network

Neyland Stadium – Knoxville, Tennessee

What to watch for:

Last week’s preview claimed the Vols would find their identity in the Swamp. That didn’t happen.

Tennessee choked away a victory, in what was one of Butch Jones’s worst performances to date. From play-calling to substitutions, Tennessee was outperformed by Florida. It is an indictment of Jones as a coach.

But it’s time to move forward.

Defensive tackle Shy Tuttle (2) runs back a fumble against Virginia Tech in 2016. (Knoxville News Sentinel)

The Vols return home this weekend for a more favorable matchup against UMass. The Minutemen have amassed an 0-4 record to start the season, with little to show in terms of offense. Tennessee should have a heyday on defense, much like the Indiana State game.

Defensively, Tennessee has to figure out exactly what it wants to do. With the season-ending injury to Cortez McDowell, another linebacker has to step up. It could be Quart’e Sapp. It could be Elliot Berry. Either way, Tennessee has to find some answers by getting their role players more serious reps.

Along the defensive line, players like Shy Tuttle and Jonathan Kongbo have to step up and apply pressure to the quarterback. The Vols only have three sacks through three games and have to get some practice pressuring the pocket before SEC play continues.

Redshirt Freshman quarterback Jarrett Guarantano drops back for a pass against Indiana State. (Saturday Down South)

Before the Florida game, it looked as though the quarterback question had been answered. Quinten Dormady was the man for the job. Then he threw three picks against the Gators. Coincidentally in Butch Jones’s press conference on Tuesday, he was quoted as saying backup Jarrett Gaurantano “…has earned the right to play some.”

It’s the fourth game of the year, Tennessee has to stick with one quarterback or another till the finish. Whether it’s Dormady or Guarantano remains to be seen. The Vols simply can’t go deep into SEC play with question marks surrounding the position. Signal callers are just too invaluable to an offense.

Bottom line, this is UMass were talking about. Their far from world beaters and give the Vols the best opportunity to figure things out before the schedule gets tougher. Tennessee will finally figure out what their team is supposed to look like in time for Georgia next Saturday.

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