The Tennessee Vols (5-5) will be looking to get their offense back on track after their second-half showing against Georgia with the visit of the South Alabama Jaguars (5-5). Here are the three keys to a Tennessee win.
By Steve Wright
1 – The health of Jake Bentley
Most Tennessee fans won’t know a whole lot about South Alabama. It is a young program at the FBS level and one that hasn’t reached a buzzy level yet in its young life. Vols fans may, however, recognize the name of their starting quarterback, South Carolina transfer Jake Bentley. Bentley showed flashes with the Gamecocks before fading so he is capable of testing the Tennessee defense. His status is a question due to a partially torn MCL earlier in the season but given that this is his last year of college football he will do everything to get back here.
2 – Explosive plays
Explosive plays are what set this Tennessee offense apart. South Alabama has the best run D in the Sun Belt and they will look to use that to control the clock against a Vols offense that wants to score quickly. The game against Georgia could have been radically different had Hendon Hooker not missed by inches on a couple of deep shots in the first half, expect to see those plays completed on Saturday.
3 – No turnovers
You keep inferior teams in games by turning the ball over. South Alabama doesn’t have the offense to get close to Tennessee – they were shut out in the second half by Appalachian State last weekend – unless the Vols gives them good field position. Playing smart football and taking shots only when they are open will allow Tennessee to hit the explosive play without any danger of it coming back to bit Hooker and company with an interception. The offensive tempo will win this as long as the turnovers are avoided.