Vols Passing Game Vital Against Oklahoma


The Tennessee Vols passing game will be vital against Oklahoma tonight in Norman. Justin Worley and the talented receivers from Wide Receiver U will have to be perfect in order to win this match up against the #4 ranked team in the country.

Tennessee is going to Norman to win, not participate. Butch Jones and Mike Bajakian will have an offensive plan of attack against the best defense Tennessee will probably see all year long. The best I remember the Samurai had an offensive plan in the movie The Last Samurai. That didn’t turn out to well.

If you told me a year ago that I would have to pin my hopes on Justin Worley’s passing to lead the Vols to victory against Oklahoma, I would have laughed and gave you the “good luck with that” response. However, as of this morning, there is something telling me he can have a good game “if” he stays calm, and “if” he stays within himself in the first half. In the second half, if Tennessee is close, he is going to have to throw caution to the wind and take chances downfield in order to win. I don’t mean throwing it 2o yards over the receiver’s heads to “act” like he is throwing it deep, but rather let the receivers battle their defensive backs for the ball. He has to give the receivers a chance late in this game. It is a must!

The first half is key. He can not turn the ball over early to the Oklahoma defense.  A punt is not terrible in the first half, unless it comes after multiple three and outs. Let’s face the facts. We have not been able to run against Utah State nor against Arkansas State. It is more than likely not going to happen against Oklahoma either. So Tennessee will have to throw to set up the run.

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  • The run game must be a bunch of misdirection and inside traps with Tennessee’s smaller line going up against a superior defensive line. Hurd and Lane will have to be patient to set up a block, and be happy with a three yard run. Worley will have to keep at least 6 times for the read option to be effective. If he doesn’t pull it down and run, Tennessee will not have more than 75 yards total rushing. Mark it.

    Oklahoma is most vulnerable in the secondary, although they are great there as well. Outstanding cornerback Zack Sanchez of Oklahoma was hurt last weekend. He has recovered from a shoulder injury sufficient enough to remain in the lineup today. Tennessee will test him with a physical Marquez North and Jason Croom. If Sanchez can not go or re-injures his shoulder, the Sooners will have to go to freshman corner Jordan Thomas. That is what Tennessee needs to be in business. I think freshman Josh Malone will step up big today. It is his time to have the ball thrown his way.

    Oklahoma will try to get a big push on Tennessee’s offensive line and disrupt Worley. They will be successful doing so. Tennessee will have to counter by screening (which they do not do well) and by throwing short underneath routes to Josh Smith and Pig Howard. If there is ever a game for Tennessee to install the shuffle pass from Worley to Hurd this is it. I have never seen it before in Bajakian’s offense though.

    This is a tough task for a young Tennessee offense. They are outmatched physically on the line of scrimmage, and they are playing in a hostile environment for the first time this season, and in most cases ever.

    So the strategy offensively should be establish the short passing game early and run enough to keep the defense honest. Misdirection will be key, and getting Hurd and Lane on the edges of the Sooner defense by throwing to them short will be a must. In the second half I say let it all hang out. Go for the win. Go for it on fourth downs, throw the ball up to your best receivers and give them a chance to compete, onside kick when not expected. Play unconventionally in the second half. A loss is a loss whether it is by 1 or by 40. Play to win.