The Tennessee Volunteers like receiver matchup’s against the Aggies of Utah State in Sunday night’s opener for both teams. The Vols are going off at 6 point favorites, which tells you this is going to be a closer game than most Vol fans want this game to be.
Tennessee may be able to exploit a really well coached and talented Utah State defense in one area especially. On paper, Tennessee’s receivers will have a huge height and speed advantage over the Aggies smaller secondary. Tennessee will start 6’4 240 lb Marquez North and 6’3″ 202 lb Josh Malone versus corners Daniel Gray and Rashard Stewart. Both Gray, a Tennessee transfer to Utah State, and Stewart are 5’10″.
Add in 6’3″ Von Pearson to the Tennessee starting receivers and it looks like game, set and match to Tennessee in the passing game. Tennessee also will trot out 6’6″ Jason Croom in red zone situations. There could possibly be an equalizer however Sunday night. One the Vols do not want to see.
Rain could be the equalizer. Yes, rain. Right now as it stands there is an 80% chance of rain in Knoxville on Sunday. The Aggies are doing a rain dance in Utah right now, and the Vols are praying it doesn’t. Tennessee will have to go to the ground attack against the strength of the Aggie defense, which is their linebackers, if it is a messy night. Utah State likes to funnel the running backs to it’s top notch linebackers by utilizing a 3 man front. The backers are very active.
There are two schools of thought on the rain. One is that it totally disrupts timing between quarterback and receivers, and that it makes the ball extremely hard to hold onto, and slows the receivers down tremendously. That is the side of thought the Utah State fans will hold onto.
Vol fans will like my theory. I like the fact that the receivers KNOW where they are going and keep their footing better than a defensive back that is trying to react. If Worley can deliver the ball accurately, and Vol receivers can hold onto the ball in the rain, there could be some big plays in the passing game regardless of wet conditions.
This game is going to be a close game that will more than likely come down to the fourth quarter. As the Tennessee maxims say, whoever makes the least amount of mistakes will win. Let’s hope Mother Nature doesn’t help inspire mistakes in Knoxville Sunday. At least not on the Tennessee side.