Tennessee visits Arkansas on Saturday in Fayetteville. Here are your three keys to a Vols victory.
By Steve Wright
The Tennessee Volunteers (2-3) are looking to get their record back to .500 this week against an Arkansas Razorbacks (2-3) squad that has been tougher than most would have expected heading into the season.
Protect the ball
This has to be key No. 1 simply because the Arkansas offense isn’t good enough to beat Tennessee without being given a hand thanks to turnovers. That has ben clear all season, but it became more so on Saturday when the Razorbacks went down 42-31 on the road against Texas A&M in a game that didn’t feel as close as that score suggests. Arkansas had 13 turnovers heading into College Station – something that should worry the Tennessee coaching staff – but they failed to add any to that total as Kellen Mond did what he wanted. Protect the ball. Make Arkansas play with a long field. Win the game.
Be aware of the run
Arkansas might not have much of an offense this season, but their running game suddenly picked up against A&M. A unit that was 12th in the conference before the game in rushing yards rattled off a season-high 222 yards on the ground. We all know what limitations Feliepe Franks has as a quarterback, but if Arkansas can get their running game going then he does become more dangerous. The Tennessee defensive line has to win the battle on the ground and force Arkansas into as many third and long situations as possible.
The offense has to capable
This doesn’t seem like much to ask, but against Georgia, Alabama, and Kentucky, it just wasn’t a thing. The play calling has to put the team in a position to succeed, which means if the running game is going well you stick with it. The QBs can’t throw interceptions – certainly not ones returned for touchdowns – and there cannot be missed assignments or wrongly ran routes that kill promising drives at the worst times. Tennessee doesn’t have to be the Kansas City Chiefs in this one on offense, but there has to be something on this side of the ball for the defense to feel that their efforts are worth it.
Saturday‘s game kicks off at 6:30 PM CT (7:30 PM ET). Watch on the SEC Network.