Jeremy Pruitt is in danger of falling below .500 for the first time in his short head coaching career, as his Tennessee Vols are set to take on the Georgia Bulldogs in Athens on Saturday.
The Vols are coming off a horrible home loss to the Florida Gators. Tennessee, who looked completely out of sorts last week, turned the ball over six times against the Gators.
Tennessee’s players have been putting in extra work, on their own accord, all week leading up to a matchup with a stout Georgia team that’s ranked No. 2 in the nation.
While a win against the Bulldogs seems unlikely for the Volunteers (college football is wild, so we can’t 100 percent rule it out), there are still several specific areas where we need to see improvement from UT.
Taking care of the football
I think this one is pretty obvious. Through the first three games of the year, Tennessee did a good job of not giving their opponent the ball. But that went all to hell against Florida. Turnovers are going to happen. Sometimes the other team just makes a good play on the ball. But that’s not what happened against the Gators. The Vols were just careless with the football. They have to do a much better job against Georgia. Obviously the Bulldogs present a much tougher challenge on defense, but that doesn’t change the fact that Tennessee can play much smarter than they did against Florida.
Offensive line needs to hold its own
I’m not looking for Tennessee’s offensive line to suddenly be a strength this week. Especially against Georgia. But we do to need to see some improvement in that area. I, and many others, lamented Tyson Helton’s decision to continually run the ball between the tackles against Florida. But there’s a reason he made that choice. Tennessee has to effectively run the ball up the middle to make their offense work. It’s tough to win in the SEC without a power run game. The offensive line, however, is going to have to do their part to make the run game work.
Find Marquez Callaway and Jauan Jennings
Good things happen when Marquez Callaway and Jauan Jennings get the ball. Yet I still feel like they don’t get the ball nearly enough. The Vols need to take a few more 50/50 shots down the field to Callaway (he can make the catch over most defensive backs). They also need to get the ball to Jennings in space more often. Jennings has an innate ability to break tackles and make plays in the open field. In a third and long situation, I’m looking to Jennings if I’m Jarrett Guarantano.
Generate Pressure on the quarterback
Tennessee’s pass rush has been non-existent this year. I don’t imagine it will suddenly be a force against a Sam Pittman led offensive line, but we still need to see improvement. The best way to get better is to play against the best. UT’s pass rushers have to elevate their game against Georgia and find a way to get pressure on Jake Fromm. If the Vols give Fromm all day in the pocket to make throws, then it’s going to be a very long afternoon for Tennessee.
Featured image via USA Today