Vols Capable Of Winning Big Today


The Vols are capable of running Vanderbilt out of Neyland Stadium today despite everyone predicting a close game.

Tennessee got a dose of what it would be like facing Vanderbilt last weekend when they traveled to Missouri to play the Tigers. Very good defense. Very little offense. It is the same scenario today.

Last week Tennessee played the eighth best defense in the country statistically in Missouri. The Vols ran for over 250 yards. The Commodores have the 14th best defense in the country statistically. I look for more of the same out of Hurd and Kamara today.

This is Vanderbilt’s bowl game. They are 4-6. Tennessee stands at 7-3. The Dores have rebounded from some early season embarrassment to play extremely well down the stretch. They had Florida on the ropes in Gainesville, but just couldn’t close out the deal as Florida actually kicked a late field goal to send the Dores back to the Music City empty handed again. The Gators could manage very little offense against a swarming Vandy defense on that day.

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Vol fans do not want this one to be that close. The key today for the Vols may be a similar plan as last week. It may be a very patient ground attack and kicking game that Coach Butch Jones relies on again. It will be a field possession game in his eyes I am sure.

Vandy’s offense is led by running back Ralph Webb. Webb is dangerous. He is short in stature, but big in effort. He is right behind Jalen Hurd statistically in rushing yards. Webb went over 1,000 yards on the season last week against Texas A&M. The Vols will have to stop him.

Webb is it for Vandy. Nothing more to stop from a Vols standpoint, because the Commodores will stop themselves.

Vandy will be quarterbacked by a true freshman today in Kyle Shurmur. He is the son of long time NFL coach Pat Shurmur. Shurmur shows a lot of promise. He has the size at 6-4 and 220 lbs. He has a live arm. It just doesn’t always throw the ball to the right team.

Expect the Vols to put all kinds of pressure on Shurmur in passing situations. The Commodores will counter with a lot of screen passes to Webb to slow the rush. He is the most dangerous man on the field in a black and gold uniform, or that dirty, dishwater thing they wear from time to time.

Defensively for the Vols the linebackers will need to have big days. Eddie Kirkland, Jr will be challenged with making sure Webb does not get loose. Jalen Reeves-Maybin, who is a walking tackling statistic, will keep the screen under wraps and probably will be matched up on Vandy’s tight end Scheu as well.

The Vanderbilt receivers will not scare any of the Vols defensive backs. They do not have the speed to run away. However, footing could play an issue with the Neyland Stadium turf being so bad. One slip by a defender and the Commodores could celebrate in the checkerboards. That may be the only way it could happen. but that is a real concern.

The Vols offensively will give Vandy a steady dose of Hurd-Kamara. I look for Kamara to get a few more opportunities as speed will play an important role today. Hurd has been the plow horse all season. He ran as well as I have seen him run last week at Missouri in posting over 150 yards rushing for a career high. He is poised to have another big day today. But Vandy will be looking to stop Hurd first and foremost.

Enter Joshua Dobbs and Alvin Kamara. These two could have big days on the ground because of Jalen Hurd. If Hurd can wear this Vanderbilt defense down just a little, Kamara’s speed could add up to a few big “splash” plays for the Vols. Kamara is still relatively fresh and healthy. Vanderbilt’s defense has to be getting tired. They have been on the field since the season started it seems.

Here is where I think it could become a run away. IF Tennessee can find its’ passing game, it could be devastating to the Commodores. The Vols have not thrown the ball well at all over the past three weeks. They were much better in the air earlier in the season.

Yes, they complete passes. Last week the Vols had a less than 5 yard per reception average. Vanderbilt’s safeties are physical. They both love to hit. They will be a huge support in the run defense. The Vols will have to keep these two guys off of Hurd, Dobbs and Kamara.

If Tennessee can get anything out of Josh Malone, Josh Smith, and Johnathon Johnson deep, it will result in a much softer go for the running backs. If that becomes the case, it will be a big day for the Tennessee Vols. If Tennessee can not get any production out of the passing game. it will become a nail biter in the fourth quarter.

The Vols will assuredly go to Von Pearson in the slot over and over in hopes of breaking one. I don’t think that will happen against this Vandy secondary. They are sure tacklers. No, the Vols will have to go over the top some. That is available, if Dobbs can hit the receivers and the receivers can actually hold on to the ball.

I also look for Kamara and Hurd to catch their share of short passes out of the backfield. This could prove deadly today as getting Hurd and Kamara one on one with a linebacker would be a dream come true for those wearing orange today.

The bottom line is that Tennessee will have to put up 24 points today. If the Vols get to 24, I will feel pretty good. I do not think Vanderbilt is capable of putting up more than 24 on any given day. Especially against this Tennessee defense.

I don’t care what the score is as long as Tennessee wins today. The Vols could go to 8-4. That is right where I had them at the start of the season. It would be another sign this team is getting better. It would put Tennessee in decent bowl game against decent competition. Another brick in the process that gets Tennessee back to being relevant in College Football.