Tennessee Vols football (0-1, 0-0 SEC) opened its season with a 38-30 loss to Georgia State (1-0, 0-0 Sun Belt), which had not won a game since last September.
Now, Tennessee coach Jeremy Pruitt will rally his players to face Brigham Young University (0-1) on Sep. 7.
Kickoff in Knoxville is scheduled for 7 p.m. EST and can be viewed on ESPN. Continued coverage of Tennessee vs. BYU will be up on TNJN.com shortly following the game.
While ball security and smart throws are important in any game, they will be key in this matchup between the Vols and the Cougars.
BYU is coming off a 30-12 loss to Utah. Cougar quarterback Zach Wilson threw two pick-sixes, and running back Ty’Son Williams fumbled on a key drive early in the fourth quarter. On defense, BYU failed to force a turnover.
Tennessee fumbled four times, though Georgia State was only able to recover two of them, and Vol quarterback Jarett Guarantano threw an interception.
The Vols created just one turnover last week when linebacker Deandre Johnson strip-sacked Georgia State quarterback Dan Ellington.
During Monday’s press conference, Pruitt said that, in addition to improving their turnover margin, his team had to do better in the red zone.
“We were two-for-four in the red area on scoring touchdowns,” Pruitt said. “We’ve gotta be able to score points in the red area, and if you flip it, the other side didn’t make Georgia State kick field goals in the red area.”
The Vols struggled against Georgia State’s mobile quarterback, as Ellington ran for 61 yards on the ground. This week, Tennessee will have to find a way to contain Wilson, who ran for 43 yards against Utah.
“He can run around and extend plays, make all the throws,” Pruitt said on Wilson. “He’s a guy that we gotta find a way to get on the ground.”
BYU’s defense, which allowed an 81% completion percentage against Utah, may be tested against a Tennessee team that threw for 311 yards last week. The Cougars were unable to record a sack last week, but the opportunity to pressure Guarantano should be there after the Tennessee offensive line struggled in week one.
This game is about as important as a non-conference game can be for Tennessee. The Georgia State loss hurt the Vols, but a win against BYU could show that Tennessee merely overlooked Georgia State last week.
BYU will be itching for a win coming off a home opener loss of their own.
Tennessee is favored by just 3.5 points, according to pregame.com, so the game is within reach by either side.
Christian Knox, sports editor— Tennessee: 23, BYU: 17
The Vols under Pruitt have shown an ability to win when it matters the most, and this game against BYU really matters. Tennessee won’t be able to execute in the red zone much, but they’ll dominate the turnover battle and take the game.
Dusty Bryan, assistant sports editor— Tennessee: 28, BYU: 21
Look for Tennessee to come out fighting mad after a humiliating loss to Georgia State. BYU will be tough, but Tennessee will find a way to eke out a win at home.
Edited by Ainsley Kelso and Ciera Noe
Featured image courtesy of Tennessee Football Twitter @Vol_Football