Vanderbilt (3-8) closes out what has been a disappointing – and at times ugly – season with a rivalry matchup at the bowl bound Tennessee Volunteers (6-5).
By Steve Wright
Here are the three keys:
Keep the rhythm going
We all know that Vanderbilt football has been a rough watch this season. The ‘Dores have been outplayed for most of the year, but last week they finally managed to get something going on offense. Yes, it was ETSU, but Vanderbilt gained 418 yards of offense on the way to s shutout win. Riley Neal looked back to something like his best as he was efficient in passing for two touchdowns. Ke’Shawn Vaughn had space for the first time in weeks as he rushed for 139 yards and two scores. This is how the offense should look, carry the momentum over and succeed.
Guard all the WRs
The trio of Jauan Jennings, Josh Palmer, and Marquez Callaway has been effective all season. One Saturday against Mizzou, however, they went off as a trio, becoming the first trio of wide outs to all pass 100 yards receiving in the same game in school history.
This presents a host of matchup issues for the Vandy defense as clearly the Vols passing game is high powered. Doubling one of the three will give another way too much freedom, so it is imperative that the DBs stay on top of their man and that the pass rush gets to whoever is throwing the ball.
Be ready for a motivated Tennessee
The last time that Vanderbilt seniors went all four years without losing to Tennessee was almost a century ago. Vandy has owned Tennessee over the last three years, actually getting a bigger margin of victory each time over their rivals. It feels like a rivalry again and Saturday will be intense.
This Tennessee crop of seniors will not want to be the ones to change that statistic. The Vols will be motivated – perhaps too much so – and Vandy must capitalize on their opponents mental mistakes to win.