No. 20 LSU vs. Tennessee preview

The Tennessee Volunteers and interim head coach Brady Hoke look to keep its bowl game hopes alive against the LSU Tigers on Saturday.

The Tennessee Volunteers (4-6, 0-6 SEC) will host Ed Orgeron and the LSU Tigers just six days after firing head coach Butch Jones. Defensive line coach Brady Hoke will take over as interim coach, he is 78-70 in his 12-year career as a head coach. The Vols have to win their final two contests against the Tigers and Vanderbilt to secure a bowl bid. Meanwhile, Orgeron and LSU seek its fifth straight win over Tennessee.

The Tigers are fresh off a 33-10 beatdown of the Arkansas Razorbacks last weekend. Running back Derrius Guice led the LSU offense with 147 yards and three touchdowns on the ground. Guice tallied his fourth 100-yard rushing game, and quarterback Danny Etling complemented the impressive Tigers run game. Etling completed just 11 passes for over 200 yards and two touchdowns against the Razorbacks. This was the most passing yards Etling has registered since week two against Chattanooga.

Wide receiver D.J. Chark is the clear No. 1 target for Etling, as he has 500 more receiving yards than the next best receiver on the roster. Chark tallied his fourth 100-yard receiving game in 2017 for two touchdowns against Arkansas. The LSU offensive line has been a bit of a rollercoaster this season, but they rebounded and looked solid against the Razorbacks after giving up six sacks to Alabama two weeks ago.

LSU’s defense has looked great over the past two weeks, giving up just 34 combined points to Alabama and Arkansas. The Tigers’ front seven is stacked with depth and talent, as linebackers Donnie Alexander and Devin White combined for 26 tackles in last week’s game. Also, the Tigers secondary has only given up over 200 yards passing in one game this whole season.

Tennessee is coming off one of the most demoralizing losses in program history and the firing of head coach Butch Jones. Last week, the Vols were shredded by Missouri 50-17 in Columbia, resulting in the termination of Jones. The Vols’ offensive woes continued against an improved Tigers front seven. True freshman quarterback Will McBride started, as Jarrett Guarantano was out with an ankle injury. McBride started strong, but finished with just 137 yards, one touchdown and an interception.

The Tennessee running game never got going as McBride was the leading rusher with the Vols. Running backs John Kelly and Ty Chandler combined for just 60 yards rushing. The Vols offensive line continued to struggle due to players being out with an injury, as they gave up five sacks and nine tackles-for-loss. Tight end Ethan Wolf and receiver Brandon Johnson combined for a team-high three catches and 45 yards receiving a piece.

Defensive coordinator Bob Shoop and the Volunteers defense once again fell victim to the offense’s inefficiency. Tennessee’s defense gave up over 400 yards rushing and four passing touchdowns from Missouri quarterback Drew Lock. However, look for a new and refreshed Volunteers team following the firing of Jones.

If Tennessee struggled with the Missouri run game, they will surely have a hard time against Guice and Orgeron’s run-heavy scheme. However, LSU is extremely one-dimensional and could easily be defeated if the Vols manage to contain their ground game.

Prediction

The Tennessee offense will be much more efficient now that Jones is not controlling it, but the LSU defense will clamp down on them. The Vols recent woes stopping the run make it nearly impossible for them to stop the impressive Tigers rush offense. LSU will win their fifth straight game over Tennessee 23-14 in Neyland Stadium on Saturday.

Featured image courtesy of UT Sports

Edited by Ben McKee