Key Matchups: Tennessee vs Charlotte
As Jeremy Pruitt’s team continues its quest for bowl eligibility, Tennessee will face its final non-conference opponent of the season on Saturday when it takes on the Charlotte 49ers for Homecoming.
Following a 58-21 defeat against the Alabama Crimson Tide, Tennessee lost 27-24 to South Carolina. The game cemented Gamecock head coach Will Muschamp’s dominance over the Vols, as he extended his record to 7-0 against Tennessee.
The Vols will look to turn the page this weekend when they face the Charlotte 49ers in Neyland Stadium. At 3-5, Tennessee will need to win three of its final four games in order to become bowl eligible, and that quest begins when the Vols take on the 49ers on Tennessee’s Homecoming.
Conversely, Charlotte sits in the middle of the C-USA at 4-4. The 49ers are winless on the road this year at 0-3, so Saturday’s matchup will feature the 49ers’ next shot at road game redemption.
Here are a few key matchups ahead of the Vols’ game against Charlotte:
Juwan Foggie vs Jarrett Guarantano:
So far this season, Tennessee’s quarterback has done a solid job protecting the football, as he has only thrown two interceptions to date. But Guarantano’s pocket awareness is a different story, as evidenced by the many times Guarantano has been slammed to the turf when looking for a receiver. Foggie will likely be one of the more explosive linebackers that Guarantano has faced this season season. He has a lot of speed to match six interceptions, which lead the nation, as well as 40 total tackles. It’s obvious that Guarantano has had trouble shuffling his protection, so the chess match between these two should be an interesting one.
Benny LeMay vs Tennessee defense:
Charlotte quarterback Evan Shirreffs hasn’t given his team much production this season. But that doesn’t mean much with the kind of rushing attack that the 49ers bring to the table.
Running back Benny LeMay leads the team with 745 yards rushing on just 141 carries. If Shy Tuttle and Alexis Johnson can clog the middle of the field and limit the 49ers’ run game, the Vols’ secondary won’t be preoccupied and can stay glued to Charlotte’s receivers.
Victor Tucker vs Alontae Taylor:
While the 49ers may not have the most electric passing game in the country, they do pose a serious threat through the air with freshman receiver Victor Tucker. The wideout has already hauled in 46 passes for 566 yards so far this season, so look for Pruitt to put his best corner on Charlotte’s most explosive threat now that Taylor is fully removed from his suspension after an altercation with an Alabama player.
Tennessee is set to host Charlotte at 4 p.m. ET on Saturday at Neyland Stadium, and the game will be televised on the SEC Network.
Edited by Jake Nichols.
Featured image courtesy of Jake Nichols.