The Tennesse Volunteers (3-6) will complete all 10 games of their 2020 season this weekend as they take on the No. 5 Texas A&M Aggies (7-1). Here are the three keys to a Vol win.
By Steve Wright
Stop the run
Texas A&M has had a weird season with the pandemic causing more cancellations and rearrangements for them than seemingly any other team in the SEC. The result has been a climb to fifth place in the rankings – and a backdoor shot at the CFP without even playing in a title game – without any of the credit that similarly situated schools have attained. Their running game is their bread and butter. Isaiah Spiller is third in the SEC in yards as he is just three short of 900, even though he has many fewer carries than the backs around him. The Aggies rushed for 313 yards last time out against Auburn and they will look to use their veteran offensive line to create more holes here. One thing to note is that Spiller has fumble issues, so Tennessee defenders can focus on the ball late in the tackle motion.
Run the ball
The lack of consistency on offense has been a huge part of the Vols 2020 season. This has been especially true through the air, where a cavalcade of quarterbacks hasn’t produced the desired results. The ground game has, however, been the more stable part of the attack – as long as you take away the -1 yard performance against Georgia. Eric Gray has emerged as a true lead back and the Vols have three games on the year where they have rushed as a team for over 200 yards. The Texas A&M defense is solid and they have kept five of their opponents to under 110 yards.
Don’t make mistakes
Texas A&M wins games because they don’t beat themselves. It is a veteran team, one that is good at controlling tempo/time of possession, that doesn’t commit a ton of penalties, and that won’t turn the ball over easily with their balanced offense. Tennessee has been mistake-prone all season – especially at the quarterback position – and making mistakes here will be amplified as this A&M team just grinds out games.