In light of the upcoming challenge the Tennessee football team faces in Norman on Saturday, here are the five offensive ‘musts’ Tennessee has to do in order to have any chance of upsetting number four Oklahoma on Saturday.
• Tennessee must establish the run game. Although the running game looked better against Arkansas State, it has been mostly stagnant thus far. Running the ball will keep the defense off-balance and will allow Justin Worley and the pass game to explore play-action and other options through the air.
• Tennessee must score early and be efficient. The one element that practice simply can’t prepare the Vols’ young guys for is the atmosphere they will experience on Saturday. Norman will be rocking in a primetime atmosphere against an SEC opponent. Tennessee cannot afford to keep giving the ball back to a dynamic Oklahoma offense.
• Tennessee must take care of the ball. It’s in General Neyland’s Game Maxims, Butch Jones’ daily preaching, and is a key to any game. A turnover- or worse, multiple turnovers- will keep Oklahoma’s crowd in the game and could lead to a quick scoring barrage from the Sooners. The Vols cannot try to play catch-up all game due to turnovers.
• Tennessee must give Justin Worley time to throw. When Tennessee has to throw, Justin Worley is going to have his hands full from both defensive line pressure and multiple looks from the Sooner secondary. Oklahoma’s defensive line is stacked with playmakers, so the Vols’ offensive line needs to give Worley time to find a man down the field. Sacks and hurried throws can be drive killers in a game where every drive matters.
• Tennessee’s receivers must be football sponges. Oklahoma’s defensive front and Tennessee’s rushing struggles mean Justin Worley will have to throw a lot Saturday. It could be possible that the passing attack can open some doors in the running game, where normally it is the opposite. In the meantime, Marquez North, Josh Smith, Pig Howard, and all other Tennessee receivers and tight ends need to help Worley out by catching nearly everything thrown in their direction.
If Tennessee can accomplish these five things, or MAYBE do four of them extremely well, Tennessee will have a chance to reach three wins Sooner rather than later.
Edited by Will Lomas