Vols to watch for against Vanderbilt
Vanderbilt hasn’t beaten Tennessee since Derek Mason became head coach in 2014. Which Vols are key to keeping that streak alive on Saturday?
Josh Malone, Wide receiver
Josh Malone is the type of player that makes defenders constantly think about a potential long ball. Malone, a 6-foot-3-inch athlete, has the ability to leap and catch passes over defenders on deep balls, something he’s done successfully all season long. He has 12 catches that have gone for 20 yards or more this season and has produced in crucial moments for Tennessee. Watch for the Vols to call on Malone to get a quick six points on a long pass.
Josh Dobbs, Quarterback
Josh Dobbs’ potential this week is interesting when considering the strength of Vanderbilt — its defense. Dobbs will need to continue to escape the pocket and finding receivers downfield in order to have success Saturday. After recording five total touchdowns (three passing, two rushing) and a career-high 190 rushing yards against Missouri, look for Dobbs to produce more big plays by extending drives with his legs.
Derek Barnett, Defensive end
Barnett trails Reggie White, one of the Vols’ biggest legends, by just one sack for a share of the career sack record (32) at Tennessee. This weekend, he goes up against a Vanderbilt offense that struggled for much of the season, relying often on the running game. However, the Commodores are vulnerable to pressure in passing situations. Vanderbilt has allowed 26 sacks this season, tied for second-worst in the SEC. Look for Derek Barnett to take full advantage of Vanderbilt’s offensive struggles.
Alvin Kamara, Running back
Kamara has played behind former Vol Jalen Hurd and has dealt with some injury problems this season. However, since Hurd’s departure and Kamara’s healthy return, averaging 8.4 yards a carry in wins over Kentucky and Missouri. Kamara could be the crucial difference maker against a Vanderbilt defense that’s only allowed 11 rushing touchdowns, good for 20th in the country. Watch for Tennessee to give Kamara early opportunities in order to try and establish the run.
Edited by Nathan Odom
Featured image by Ben Proffitt